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Israel Munoz-Gallardo, # K-61513 v. Jefferson County

July 9, 2012

ISRAEL MUNOZ-GALLARDO, # K-61513, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JEFFERSON COUNTY, SHERIFF MULCH, CPT. POLLARD, LT. MOUNT, C/O JEFFERSON, C/O EDWARDS, C/O WIDGET, C/O GRAY, C/O HANES, C/O PESCA, UNKNOWN SHERIFF'S DEPUTY, AND UNKNOWN THIRD SHIFT SUPERVISOR, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

A. Introduction

Plaintiff Israel Munoz-Gallardo, an inmate in Stateville Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on incidents that occurred while he was a pretrial detainee at Jefferson County Jail ("Jefferson"). Plaintiff is serving a five year sentence for possession of contraband in a penal institution. 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.

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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (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, 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.

B. Overview of Complaint Allegations

Plaintiff alleges the following.

On May 9, 2009, two Jefferson inmates deliberately caused their cell toilet to overflow, inundating Plaintiff's cell block with contaminated water. The next day (May 10, 2009), guards released inmates from their cells for an hour per cell to help clean the cell block. At approximately 6:00 p.m., staff allowed Plaintiff and his cellmate, Detainee Ojeda ("Ojeda"), their hour to clean. Plaintiff alleges that forty minutes had passed when Defendant Gray informed them that they would have to return to their cell. Plaintiff disagreed with Defendant Gray on how much time was left on their hour and asked to speak with Defendant Mount. Plaintiff then informed Defendant Mount that he and Ojeda were still in the process of cleaning, but Mount would not listen.

A few minutes after speaking with Defendant Mount via intercom, Defendants Widget, Jefferson, Edwards, Mount, and Unknown Sheriff's Deputy entered the cell block. Defendants Jefferson and Edwards each had a shotgun loaded with "bean bag rounds," and the other officers each had Tasers (Doc. 1, p. 8). After the officers entered the cell block, Ojeda continued cleaning while Plaintiff spoke with Defendant Mount. Plaintiff and Defendant Mount exchanged words until Defendant Mount ordered the guards to fire at Plaintiff. At this point, Defendants Jefferson and Edwards shot Plaintiff approximately five times in his legs, while Defendant Mount yelled, "shoot Munoz" (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff claims that Defendant Jefferson also shot Ojeda once in the abdomen.

Plaintiff's legs were "extremely swollen, bruised, and bleeding," and he attempted to clean his wounds with soap and water (Doc. 1, p. 9). Over the next few hours, Plaintiff requested pain pills and medical attention from Defendants Hanes, Gray, Jefferson, Mount, and Pesca, all of whom denied Plaintiff's requests. Plaintiff eventually laid down and went to sleep. The next morning (May 11, 2009), a staff nurse and correctional officers woke Plaintiff, at which point he had to "unstick" himself from his sheets because his blood had dried on his bed sheets (Doc. 1, p. 10). Staff took Plaintiff to the nurse's station, where Defendant Pollard looked him over and ordered staff to take pictures of Plaintiff's wounds. Plaintiff recounted the details of the previous day's events to Defendant Pollard, who responded, "maybe next time you'll lock-up when ordered to" (Doc. 1, p. 11). Three correctional officers then took Plaintiff to St. Mary's Hospital in Mt. Vernon, Illinois where medical staff treated his injuries.

Plaintiff requests a jury trial and compensatory damages for violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights.

C. Analysis

Based on the allegations of the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into three counts. The parties should use these designations in all future pleadings, 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 -- Excessive Force

Plaintiff claims that Defendants Mount, Jefferson, Edwards, Widget, and Unknown Sheriff's Deputy subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment on May 10, 2009. Although claims brought pursuant to ยง 1983, when involving detainees, arise under the Fourteenth Amendment and not the Eighth Amendment, see Weiss v. Cooley, 230 F.3d 1027, 1032 (7th Cir. 2000), the Seventh Circuit has "found it convenient and entirely appropriate to apply the same standard to claims arising under the Fourteenth Amendment (detainees) and Eighth Amendment (convicted prisoners) 'without differentiation.'" Board v. Farnham, 394 ...


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