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Harris v. Harrington

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 2, 2013

DECARLO D. HARRIS, # R08615, Plaintiff,


G. PATRICK MURPHY, District Judge.

Plaintiff DeCarlo D. Harris, an inmate in Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on the conditions of his confinement and incidents that occurred while Plaintiff was housed at Menard Correctional Center.

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).

Upon careful review of the complaint, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under Section 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

The Complaint

Plaintiff was involved in an assault upon staff in the Menard chapel on February 5, 2013. According to Plaintiff, a warning shot was fired and a group of inmates, including Plaintiff, were cuffed, beaten, and then dragged to the health care unit. Defendant Warden Harrington then appeared and inquired whether the inmates were "the gang-banging fucks who assaulted [his] staff." Harrington then stated, "Teach them a lesson, boys." The inmates were then brought into a nearby room one by one. Plaintiff heard loud noises, shouting, crying, inmates begging, and even a threat that one inmate was going to be killed by a guard. Plaintiff saw inmates exit the room beaten and bleeding. After every inmate in the group-except for Plaintiff-had been beaten, the whole group was strip searched and taken to segregation.

Plaintiff was subsequently interviewed by Defendant Major Hasemeyer, who threatened to destroy Plaintiff's legal papers and personal property, and to make Plaintiff's time in segregation "hell." Plaintiff was then placed in a segregation cell with no toilet paper, no water and food, and no sheets or blanket-all for two days.

On February 7, 2013, Plaintiff and seven other inmates were transferred to various other institutions. Plaintiff went to Lawrence Correctional Center, where he remains. When Plaintiff finally received his personal property at Lawrence, things were missing and destroyed. His television was broken, and he has never received his box of legal materials. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Based on the allegations of the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into four 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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