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Stanton J. Thompson v. Lee Ryker

January 14, 2011

STANTON J. THOMPSON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
LEE RYKER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

#N-03882,

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate in the Pontiac 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, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

Facts:

Plaintiff's complaint consists of a paragraph in which he alleges that Defendant Purdue*fn1 came to Plaintiff's cell, kissed him, and asked him to have sexual intercourse. Defendant Purdue then forced Plaintiff to have intercourse two times a week for six months. Plaintiff's complaint then becomes a list of named Defendants along with very brief statements of alleged claims. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Melvin, Germain, Ryker, Stafford, Meeks, Williams, Moran, Hardy, Kuntz, Messerly, Mathy, Blackwell, Boyd, Randle, Pierce, and Casburn were aware of corruption and abuse occurring in the prison, but failed to do anything. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Clevy, Duncan, Small made false statements about Plaintiff. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants Lingle and Tinsley refused to call witnesses at Plaintiff's various administrative hearings. Plaintiff finally claims that Defendant Brian refused to provide Plaintiff with medical attention. The claim alleged against Defendant Hastings is unintelligible in the complaint, and Plaintiff does not raise a claim against Defendant Quinn.

Discussion:

To facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(f) and 10(b), the Court finds it appropriate to break the claims in Plaintiff's pro se complaint and other pleadings into numbered counts, as shown below. 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: Eighth Amendment

Plaintiff alleges that for 6 months Defendant Purdue forced Plaintiff to have intercourse with him, twice a week. The Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment is applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. It has been a means of improving prison conditions that were constitutionally unacceptable. See, e.g., Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660, 666 (1962); Sellers v. Henman, 41 F.3d 1100, 1102 (7th Cir. 1994). As the Supreme Court noted in Rhodes v. Chapmann, 452 U.S. 337, 346 (1981), the amendment reaches beyond barbarous physical punishment to prohibit the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain and punishment grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime .Id., (quoting Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976)). The Constitution also prohibits punishment that is totally without penological justification. Gregg, 428 U.S. at 183. Forced sexual assault is not a recognized means of punishment in the prison system, and the use thereof by a correctional officer would amount to a claim for cruel and unusual punishment. Whether or not Defendant Purdue engaged in the actions alleged by Plaintiff is a question of fact to be determined at a later time. It is sufficient at this stage that Plaintiff has alleged actions that, if found to be true, could amount to an Eighth Amendment claim. For this reason, this count against Defendant Purdue cannot be dismissed at this time.

Count 2: Failure to Protect

Plaintiff next alleges that Defendants Melvin, Germain, Ryker, Stafford, Meeks, Williams, Moran, Hardy, Kuntz, Messerly, Mathy, Blackwell, Boyd, Randle, Pierce, and Casburn were aware of various abuses and corruptions at the prison, but failed to intervene. In order for 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 above named 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. Shafer, 86 F.3d 90, 92 (7th Cir. 1996). In other words, Defendants had to know that there was a substantial risk that those who abused Plaintiff would do so, yet failed to take any action. Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 733-34 (7th Cir. 2001). Plaintiff does not identify the abusive or corrupt practices for which the named Defendants were supposed to be responsible. Plaintiff does not state whether the abuses he has suffered were at the hands of prison officials or inmates, and does not say how these Defendants were supposed to be aware ...


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