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Miller v. Atchison

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

August 22, 2013

SHAWN MILLER, No. B46552, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL P. ATCHISON, LUCAS T. MAUE, C/O STEWART, and MAJOR BROWN, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Shawn Miller, an inmate in Menard 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.

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). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross "the line between possibility and plausibility. Id. at 557. 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, 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).

The Complaint

According to the complaint, in July 2009 Defendant C/O Maue issued Plaintiff a disciplinary ticket that ultimately resulted in Plaintiff being placed in segregation for three months being demoted to C grade and losing commissary privileges. At that time, Maue threatened that after Plaintiff was released from segregation, he, Maue, would send Plaintiff to the hospital. Plaintiff did not run into Maue again until May 11, 2012. Maue attacked Plaintiff without cause, and Defendant C/O Stewart joined in beating Plaintiff. Neither Maue nor Stewart secured Plaintiff medical care for his injuries. Furthermore, when Stewart asked Maue what to put in his report regarding why force had been used against Plaintiff, Maue had no answer, so the two officers fabricated a false disciplinary report indicating that Plaintiff had refused an order and spat at Maue.

Plaintiff was subsequently escorted to segregation by Defendants Major Brown and C/O Stewart, but neither official responded to Plaintiff's request for medical care for his painful injuries, which included a visibly damaged eye, and a possible concussion. Plaintiff was later found guilty of the false disciplinary infractions and was sent to segregation for four months; Plaintiff also was demoted to C grade and lost commissary and visitation privileges.

Plaintiff filed multiple grievances regarding these incidents, but they were all lost, denied or ignored. Plaintiff sent a copy of a grievance regarding Maue to Warden Atchison, but Atchison never responded. A letter to Atchison did result in an Internal Affairs investigation, to no avail.

Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment, compensatory and punitive damages, and a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction directing Maue and Stewart to "keep their hands off" Plaintiff.

Based on the allegations of the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into five 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 designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

Count 1: Defendants Maue and Stewart assaulted Plaintiff on May 11, 2012, without cause in violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment;
Count 2: After assaulting Plaintiff on May 11, 2012, Defendants Maue and Stewart did not secure Plaintiff medical care for his injuries, in violation of the Eighth Amendment;
Count 3: Defendants Maue and Stewart violated Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment right to due process of law when they fabricated a false disciplinary report to cover-up their assault on Plaintiff;
Count 4: While escorting Plaintiff to segregation, Defendants Stewart and Brown did not secure Plaintiff medical care for his injuries, in ...

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