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Williams v. Walker

July 27, 2009


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


Plaintiff Demetrius Williams, a pretrial detainee at the St. Clair County Jail (S.C.C.J.), 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). Upon careful review of the complaint and the supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.


At some point between May and June 2008, Williams lived in the infirmary at the S.C.C.J. where he was treated for an arm condition and for an abdominal hernia. Williams alleges that he suffers from a pre-existing medical condition that causes him pain in his arms and causes his arms to easily dislocate. Williams requested to remain in the infirmary because of the pain from his arms and hernia.*fn1

Williams alleges he submitted both oral and written complaints to Defendant McLaurin (Superintendant/Major at S.C.C.J.) and Defendant Rude-Little (Administrator of the medical unit)*fn2 informing Defendants of his medical condition and indicating that he did not wish to be in general population for fear that, as a result of his arm condition, he would be unable to defend himself.*fn3 Williams further alleges he advised the medical staff, Defendant Walker (Nurse) and, presumably, Defendant Rude-Little of his medical condition and that he asked Defendant Walker to allow him to remain in the infirmary. Williams alleges he asked Defendant Cole (Shift Commander) not to take him to general population because he was in pain and because he was in fear of being attacked by fellow inmates who were his "enemies".

Despite Williams's requests, Defendant Cole escorted him to general population. While there, Williams verbally complained to Defendant Browder (Corrections Officer) that he was in immediate danger and needed to be taken out of general population. At some point, Williams pressed the panic button. Thereafter, he was attacked by fellow inmates. Williams alleges that officers responded to the panic alert five or six minutes after he pressed the button and some time after the fellow inmates had attacked him. The attack resulted in swelling of his eye and the back of his head, and swelling and redness in his arm.

While Williams mentions Defendant Justus (Sheriff at S.C.C.J.) in his complaint, he makes no specific factual allegations against him.


In Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994), the Supreme Court held that "prison officials have a duty... to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners." Id. at 833 (internal citations omitted); see also Luttrell v. Nickel, 129 F.3d 933, 935 (7th Cir. 1997). However, not every harm caused by another inmate translates into constitutional liability for the corrections officers responsible for the prisoner's safety. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. In order for a plaintiff to succeed on a claim for failure to protect, he must show that he is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm, and that the defendants acted with "deliberate indifference" to that danger. Id.; Reed v. McBride, 178 F.3d 849, 852 (7th Cir. 1999). A plaintiff also must prove that prison officials were aware of a specific, impending, and substantial threat to his safety, often by showing that he complained to prison officials about a specific threat to his safety. Pope v. ...

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