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Nicholson v. Walker

June 8, 2009

HARRY NICHOLSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROGER WALKER, ET. AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

CASE MANAGEMENT AND MERIT REVIEW ORDER

This cause is before the court for merit review of the plaintiff's complaint. The court is required by 28 U.S.C. §1915A to "screen" the plaintiff's complaint, and through such process to identify and dismiss any legally insufficient claim, or the entire action if warranted. A claim is legally insufficient if it "(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief."

28 U.S.C. §1915A.

The plaintiff, Harry Nicholson, has submitted a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 claiming that his constitutional rights were violated at Hill Correctional Center. The plaintiff has named 18 specific defendants including: Illinois Department of Corrections Director Roger Walker; Administrative Review Board Member Brian Fairchild; Assistant Warden Michelle Pulley; Lieutenants Durham, Price, and Chapin; Investigator Tammy Bennett; Counselors Evelyn Johnson, Gary Pompel and Robert Schisier; Operations Director Gerald Buscher; Clinical Services Supervisor David Rayborn; Medical Director Michael Puisis; Major Knott; Correctional Officers Sanders and Shea, and Assistant Warden Wright. The plaintiff has also named an unspecified number of Jane and John Doe defendants.

The only mention of the "Jane/John Doe Defendant(s)" is in the caption of the plaintiff's complaint. (Comp, p. 1). This is not sufficient and therefore the court will dismiss these individuals from the lawsuit. Collins v. Kibort, et al., 143 F. 3d 331, 334(7th Cir. 1998) ("plaintiff cannot state a claim against a defendant by including the defendant's name in the caption.").

The body of the plaintiff's complaint is 17 pages long, but has approximately 100 pages of exhibits attached. The plaintiff cannot attach dozens of pages of exhibits to his complaint and ask the court and defendants to weed through these documents in hopes of discerning all claims. The Federal Rules of Evidence require that the plaintiff submit "a short and plain statement of his claims showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The Seventh Circuit has consistently noted that "the essential function of a complaint under the civil rules...is to put the defendant on notice of the plaintiff's claim." Ross Brothers Construction Co., Inc, v. International Steel Services, Inc. 2002 WL 413172 at 4 (7th Cir. 2002) quoting Davis v. Ruby Foods, Inc., 269 F.3d 818, 820 (7th Cir. 2001). The court will accept the plaintiff's complaint, but will direct the clerk of the court to strike all exhibits attached to the complaint.

The plaintiff's complaint does not clearly state how each of the 18 defendants is specifically responsible for his allegations, nor does he clearly identify his intended claims. The court has identified the following allegations in the complaint:

1) FAILURE TO PROTECT

The plaintiff says on June 27th and 28th of 2007 he sent a request form to Defendant Durham telling him that he had been threatened by Inmate Jackson and asking to be moved. The plaintiff says he also sent notes to the Warden, the Assistant Wardens and "Internal Affairs." (Comp, p. 10). The plaintiff has identified the Warden as Defendant Acevedo and the Assistant Wardens as Defendants Pulley and Wright. However, the plaintiff does not identify any specific individual that he sent his note to in Internal Affairs, nor does he identify anyone who received or reviewed the note in Internal Affairs.

On June 30, 2007, the plaintiff alleges that Inmate Jackson entered his cell and attacked him. The plaintiff says he was seriously injured and taken to the Health Care Unit. The plaintiff says he was forced to protect himself and the incident would not have happened if defendants had paid attention to his claim and done their jobs. It is possible the plaintiff can demonstrate that the defendants failed to protect him from an inmate attack in violation of his 8th Amendment rights. Although the plaintiff was eventually disciplined for fighting as a result of this incident, the plaintiff maintains his only actions were in self defense.

The plaintiff also alleges that during the assault on June 30, 2007, no one was monitoring security cameras or doing the required security rounds. However, the plaintiff does not identify any specific defendants.

The plaintiff also notes that several employees including the grievance officers failed to show any concern for his safety. However, the plaintiff cannot state a failure to protect claim based on information provided to defendants AFTER the assault took place.

2) DUE PROCESS

The plaintiff received a disciplinary ticket on July 15, 2007 for fighting as a result of the incident. It is not entirely clear, but it appears the ticket was written by Investigator Tammy Bennett. The plaintiff says he was found guilty and received one month in segregation and one month of C-grade status. The plaintiff again states that any physical contact he had with the other inmate was in an effort to defend himself. While that may be true, the Illinois Department of Corrections does not allow any ...


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