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Venable v. Hulse

March 15, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge


This cause is before the court for consideration of several pending motions including: the defendants motions to dismiss the complaint [d/e 5, 12]; the defendants' motion for a protective order [d/e 18]; the defendants' motion to compel [d/e 20]; the defendants' motion for an extension of time to complete discovery [d/e 21] and plaintiff's counsel's motion to withdraw as attorney [d/e 22].

The plaintiff, Willie Veneable, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.§1983 claiming that his constitutional rights were violated at the Peoria County Jail. The plaintiff has named seven defendants including Jail Officer Michael Hulse, Sergeant Tracy Colvin, Superintendent Steven Smith, Sheriff Michael McCoy, Nurse Patricia Mattus, Advanced Health Care Systems and Peoria County. The plaintiff is represented by counsel. However, the plaintiff has not filed a response to either motion to dismiss. The motions will be considered without input from the plaintiff.


The plaintiff's complaint alleges that the defendants denied him meaningful access to the courts, violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unlawful search and seizures, subjected him to malicious prosecution and false arrest. The allegations in the complaint began with a dispute over the jail lights. The plaintiff says it is common practice to turn out the overhead jail lights in the evening after officers conduct an inmate count. However, on March 28, 2004, the lights were left on and the plaintiff asked Defendant Hulse to turn out the overhead lights in the jail area Defendant Hulse replied that he was going to leave the lights on overnight. The plaintiff asked to speak to command personnel and he says Hulse responded by attacking him. The plaintiff says Defendant Hulse struck him in the forehead and face, knocked him to the floor and held him down. The plaintiff claims the defendant then lied and told other officers that the plaintiff had hit Hulse and Hulse needed to subdue him. Defendant Hulse suffered minor injuries from taking the plaintiff to the floor and from the plaintiff's attempts to defend himself from Defendant Hulse's blows.

Defendant Hulse falsely reported that the plaintiff had struck him to his shift supervisor, Defendant Colvin. The plaintiff was subsequently charged with aggravated assault and battery.

The plaintiff alleges that other jail staff helped cover up the true story that Defendant Hulse had attacked the plaintiff. The plaintiff alleges that Nurse Mattus and other jail staff refused the plaintiff's requests for medical care after the assault. The plaintiff says Defendant Colvin did not direct any investigation into the plaintiff's allegations and did not take photographs on the plaintiff's injuries. Potential witnesses were not interviewed until three days after the incident.

The plaintiff also alleges there was a custom and policy at the Peoria County Jail "which was deliberately indifferent to the existence of destruction of evidence by intentionally refusing to preserve evidence of Jail Officer wrongdoing by not photographing injuries to detainees...and denying them medical treatment to ascertain the extent of the injuries..." (Comp, p. 7)

The plaintiff was arrested on aggravated battery and assault charges. He prevailed at his parole revocation hearing, was acquitted of the aggravated battery charges after a jury trial and the State's Attorney chose to dismiss the aggravated assault charges.

The plaintiff alleges that Defendant Hulse violated the plaintiff's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from false arrest and prosecution. The plaintiff alleges that Superintendent Smith personally or through a subordinate also participated in the deprivation of plaintiff's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Hulse "deprived the plaintiff of his right to bodily integrity awarded by the Fourth Amendment and his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures of the Fourth Amendment and his right to be free from criminal charges on fabricated evidence of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments." (Comp, p. 9-10).

The plaintiff further alleges that the "Jail Officers involved with Officer Hulse .......deprived plaintiff of his right of access to the courts to defend the criminal charge against him on the true facts and to bring a civil action for the deprivation of his Fourth Amendment rights for Officer Hulse's battery" by intentionally covering up key facts. The plaintiff states that Nurse Mattus also deprived the plaintiff of his right to defend himself by refusing to do a medical examination. The plaintiff also alleges the nurse deprived him of his right to "bring his civil actions for it full value without reduction due to the intentional conduct of the state actions guaranteed by Article VI, § 2, the right to petition of the First Amendment, and the procedural and substantial due process guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment." (Comp., p. 10-11)

The plaintiff also alleges state claims. The plaintiff is asking for compensatory and punitive damages for his physical injuries, his loss of income while he was held pending trial on the aggravated battery and assault charges and for mental anguish


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes dismissal of complaints that state no actionable claim. It is well established that pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972), reh'g denied, 405 U.S. 948 (1972). See also Tarkowski v. Robert Bartlett Realty Co., 644 F.2d 1204 (7th Cir. 1980). They can be dismissed for failure to state a claim only if it appears "beyond doubt that the ...

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