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Brian C. Lacey, B-10329 v. Chet Shaffer

October 14, 2011


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


Plaintiff Brian C. Lacey, a former pre-trial detainee in the Franklin County Jail, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff served approximately two years of his four year sentence for aggravated battery and retail theft, and is now on mandatory supervised release. This case is 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). Conversely, 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, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

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.

The Complaint

The following summary of facts is taken from Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. 10). On March 25, 2010, while Plaintiff was housed in the Franklin County Jail, he was assaulted by another detainee, Walter Sanders. Sanders was a federal detainee, while Plaintiff was being held on state charges. Plaintiff sustained two chipped teeth and injuries to his head, back and neck. Over several days leading up to the attack, Plaintiff heard Sanders tell jail personnel that if they did not move him out of the Franklin County Jail, he was going to physically assault other jail inmates in order to get officials to move him (Doc. 10, p. 3). According to Plaintiff, these threats became more violent as time went on, causing Plaintiff to fear for his safety. Plaintiff made "numerous attempts" to put jail officials on notice of his fears, but was ignored (Doc. 10, p. 3).

On the morning before the attack on Plaintiff, Sanders stated that "blood was going to spill" if he was not moved that day (Doc. 10, p. 3). Sanders packed up all his property and brought it to the dayroom. Defendant Officer Sue noticed this, and asked Sanders why his property was there, to which Sanders responded that he wanted to be moved out of the jail. Defendant Officer Tracy arrived in response to Defendant Sue's call for assistance, and Sanders repeated his request to move and asked to be placed in a holding cell. When Defendant Tracy refused, Sanders stated that if he was not moved immediately, he was going to "start whipping other inmate's ass [sic]" to get moved (Doc. 10, p. 4). Defendant Tracy responded, "'Do what you gotta do,'" then left the housing area along with Defendant Sue. Id.

After approximately thirty minutes, during which Sanders continued his verbal threats, Defendant Lieutenant Shaffer came into the dayroom and asked Sanders what was going on. Plaintiff was sitting on a table in the dayroom, watching television. Sanders asked to be transferred, and repeated his threats that if they did not move him, he would "whip somebody's ass and make them move him." Id. Defendant Shaffer responded, "'Do whatever you gotta do -- you ain't getting moved'" (Doc. 10, p. 5). Hearing this, Sanders became aggressive and upset, then turned to Plaintiff and punched him in the face. Plaintiff was knocked to the floor, landing on his head and back. Defendant Shaffer then used his taser on Sanders.

Defendant Tracy helped Plaintiff off the floor and took him to get medical attention. Plaintiff's mouth was bleeding and he had severe pain in his neck and back. Plaintiff asked for further treatment for his pain and chipped teeth after the assault, but his requests were ignored by jail staff (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff's two injured teeth later had to be pulled.

Plaintiff alleges that the attack on him was a direct result of the policy of housing federal and state detainees together at the Franklin County Jail, as well as of Defendant Shaffer's refusal to remove Sanders from the dayroom after he threatened to attack other detainees (Doc. 1, p. 6). Discussion

Based on the allegations of the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into two (2) 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 ...

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