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Donnie D. White, #B-31317 v. Illinois Department of Corrections

June 21, 2012


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


Plaintiff Donnie D. White, an inmate in Tamms Correctional Center ("Tamms"), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is serving a three year sentence for arson, along with three years for a drug offense, six years for possession of contraband in a penal institution, and a total of nine years for three convictions for aggravated battery of a peace officer. 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). 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, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), 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

Plaintiff names a total of ninety-one (91) Defendants*fn1 in his complaint, in addition to the Unknown Party Defendants. He asserts claims of deliberate indifference to his mental health needs, discrimination against him in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"), violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and retaliation. He also has attached approximately 200 pages of exhibits, including mental health treatment records, grievances, news articles, and his own writings (Docs. 7-1 through 7-10).

Plaintiff claims to be suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and suicidal thoughts, ideation and gestures (Doc. 7, p. 12). He asserts that instead of receiving appropriate treatment for his serious mental disorders, he has been placed in a restraint chair, restrained in a bed for three to four days at a time in cold conditions without clothing or food, placed in a concrete "strip cell" for weeks at a time, fed "meal loaf" after engaging in self-mutilation, denied contact with family and friends, and subjected to other unspecified "oppressive treatment" when having a psychological crisis (Doc. 7, p. 11). Further, he claims that during his stay at Tamms, Defendants have falsified his medical and mental health records to state that nothing is wrong with him. They have refused to accommodate his need for mental health treatment by failing to either place him in the psychiatric unit at Tamms or transfer him out of Tamms to another facility where he can receive mental health services (Doc. 7, pp. 12-13). He claims he has not received adequate mental health treatment while at Tamms.

Finally, Plaintiff claims that ten of the named Defendants retaliated against him for writing a complaint to the Office of Inmate Issues in Springfield, Illinois, and for pursuing a lawsuit in the Central District of Illinois against several Tamms officials (Doc. 7, pp. 14-16). This retaliation included placing and keeping Plaintiff on suicide watch, withholding medical treatment, and refusing to provide him with finger foods while he was on suicide crisis watch.

Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages. Discussion

Based on the allegations of the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into four (4) counts, corresponding to those in Plaintiff's complaint. 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 - Deliberate Indifference to Mental Health Needs

Plaintiff alleges that he is "one of numerous mentally ill inmates" incarcerated at Tamms (Doc. 7, p. 11). He asserts that the "extremely restrictive measures and conditions" at Tamms "exacerbate his serious mental illness," and the mental health treatment given to him is "more akin to punishment." Id. Although he lists several conditions and/or consequences to which he has been subjected, nowhere does he state which of the ninety-one Defendants imposed any of these conditions on him. Nor does he indicate the dates of occurrence or even a general time frame for any of the incidents.

The Supreme Court has recognized that "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners" may constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994); see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). Additionally, the Seventh Circuit has found that "the need for a mental illness to be treated could certainly be considered a serious medical need." Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 734 (7th Cir. 2001). Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 734 (7th Cir. 2001); Wellman v. Faulkner, 715 F.2d 269 (7th Cir. 1983). Deliberate indifference encompasses a broader range of conduct than intentional denial of necessary medical ...

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