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Titus v. Hulick

July 24, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge


Plaintiff Richard G. Titus, an inmate at the Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). A complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. ___, 2009 WL 1361536, *13 (May 18, 2009).


Titus alleges that on December 23, 2006, Defendant Davis made threatening and belittling remarks to him. Then Defendants Swalls and Carter (who Titus had previously filed a grievance against) came to Titus's cell. Titus alleges that he tried to explain the situation to Swalls and Carter, but they ignored Titus and told him to "cuff up." Titus refused. Defendants Swalls and Carter left and, then, returned with Lieutenant Rees. The Defendants then explained to Titus that the tactical team (referred to in the complaint as "Orange Crush") would be called if he did not "cuff up." Titus still refused to be handcuffed. Titus then alleges that Swalls threw coffee on him. Next the tactical team (which Defendant Carter is a member of) came and detained Titus. Titus alleges that the tactical team used excessive force and even assaulted him. Titus alleges that he suffered numerous injuries which he showed to nurses and medical technicians, but they refused to write all of them on the report. He also alleges that he was denied proper medical care for his injuries. Titus alleges the injuries resulted in purple scars. Titus also claims he repeatedly asked for Internal Affairs to come, but no one would listen to him.

As a result of this incident, Plaintiff received multiple disciplinary tickets. In disciplinary tickets 200602855/1 and 200602855/2, Plaintiff was charged with violating rule 304 (insolence); rule 206 (intimidation or threats); rule 403 (disobeying a direct order); and rule 404 (violation of rules - orientation manual pg. 93). Plaintiff was found guilty of these violations and received the following punishment: 6 months on "C-Grade"; 6 months segregation; 6 months commissary restriction; and 3 months yard restriction.

In disciplinary tickets 200602856/1, 200602856/2, and 200602856/3, Plaintiff was charged with violating rule 206 (intimidation or threats); rule 102 (assaulting staff by throwing a liquid); rule 304 (insolence); rule 403 (disobeying a direct order); rule 601 (attempt to violate rule 102 (assault) by swinging a sock loaded with soap bars at staff); and rule 104 (dangerous contraband - sock containing bars of soap). Plaintiff was found guilty of these violations and received the following punishment: 1 year "C-Grade"; 1 year segregation; revoke 1 year good conduct credit; confiscation of property; 6 months restricted contact visits; 1 year commissary restriction; and 3 months yard restriction.

Titus claims that the disciplinary reports relating to the above incident are false. He also alleges that during the disciplinary hearings, Defendant Mitchell refused to consider his mental health status which resulted in a denial of his right to due process. Titus also alleges that Mitchell and Defendant Fernandez refused to allow him to call witnesses in reference to the incident and charges. Titus claims that the false disciplinary report along with the denial of witnesses and mental health information as evidence resulted in him being found guilty of all charges. Titus claims that he filed a grievance against the false disciplinary reports but received no response from the grievance office.

Titus alleges that Defendant Maue went to the law library and forged his name and number and filed unspecified legal documents in his name with an appellate court. Titus claims he filed a grievance on this matter. When he heard back from the grievance he was asked to interview with Internal Affairs. Defendant Murry asked Titus if he had filed a grievance against Maue and Titus answered yes and showed Murry the grievance papers. The grievance was denied and Titus appealed to the director.

Titus claims that the lights in his cell were left on 24 hours every day and that he could not turn them off. Titus claims that later the light bulbs in his cell burned out and the lights could not be turned on. Titus claims he informed Defendants Priddy and Harris about the light bulbs being burned out, but they did nothing. Titus claims that because he was unable to turn on the lights in his cell, he was denied a shower for two weeks.

Later, Titus was moved to a different cell. At one point Titus claims his toilet was overflowing and he tapped on his cell door to get an officer's attention. He alleges that Priddy and Defendant Campbell were aware of the situation but ignored him. Titus then alleges that Priddy and Campbell turned off the toilet and turned the water pressure up so high that water shot out of the sink and soaked his bedding. Titus claims he repeatedly notified different guards, including Defendant Mezo, about his wet mattress but nothing was done until two days later when he received a dry mattress. Titus filed a grievance on this matter.

Finally, exhibits attached to the complaint indicate that Defendant Robinson issued Plaintiff a disciplinary ticket (No. 200701194/1) on or about May 28, 2007, for violating rule 206 (intimidation or threats), rule 304 (insolence), and rule 403 (disobeying a direct order). Plaintiff was found not guilty of violating rule 206, but was found guilty of violating rules 304 and 403. Plaintiff received the following punishment: 3 months on "C-Grade"; 3 months segregation; and 3 months commissary restriction. With regard to this disciplinary action, the complaint alleges only that the disciplinary ticket was not properly served on him.

Based on the allegations of the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide Titus's complaint into eight counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

COUNT 1: Against Defendant Davis for verbally harassing him in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

COUNT 2: Against Defendants Swalls, Carter, and Unknown Tactical Team Members*fn1 for using excessive force against him in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights.

COUNT 3: Against Defendants Braun and Miget for denying Plaintiff adequate medical care for his injuries in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

COUNT 4: Against unspecified defendants for failing to ...

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