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N-30985 v. Godinez

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 22, 2013

JIMMIE SMITH, # N-30985, Plaintiff,
v.
RICK HARRINGTON, CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS, BETSY SPILLER, COWAN, INTERNAL AFFAIRS, TERRI ANDERSON, and S.A. GODINEZ, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

This matter is now before the Court for review of Plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 14), filed on October 7, 2013. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), where he is serving a life sentence for murder. Initially, Plaintiff had filed only a motion for preliminary injunction (Doc. 1), followed by several motions seeking emergency injunctive relief, some of which are still pending (Docs. 8, 11, & 16). The Court instructed Plaintiff that he must file a complaint in order for the Court to have jurisdiction to consider his motions for injunctive relief (Docs. 4, 6, 10, & 12). Plaintiff has now complied.

The Complaint

Plaintiff claims that Defendants have denied his requests to be placed in protective custody. At some point in the past, unnamed Internal Affairs officials had used him as an informant to "snitch" on other inmates (Doc. 14, p. 5). Apparently this activity became known, thus placing him in danger of attack by fellow prisoners. He filed an emergency grievance on March 10, 2013, asking to sign in to protective custody ("PC"). He was moved to "intake" for protective custody on March 21, 2013. Plaintiff wrote to Defendants Cowan (caseworker) and Spiller (supervisor) about his PC request. Defendant Anderson (Administrative Review Board Chairperson) conducted a videoconference hearing with Plaintiff to consider his request. However, Defendant Godinez (Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections) denied Plaintiff's PC request on June 13, 2013.

On September 27, 2013, Plaintiff was assaulted by two other inmates while on the West Yard (Doc. 14, p. 5).[1] After the attack, Plaintiff tried to sign in to PC, but Defendants Cowan and Spiller denied his PC request. Furthermore, unnamed prison officials denied Plaintiff medical treatment after this incident.

In addition to injunctive relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages (Doc. 14, p. 6).

Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

Under § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint, and to dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from an immune defendant. Accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, the Court finds that Plaintiff has articulated a colorable federal cause of action against Defendants Cowan, Spiller, Anderson, and Godinez for failure to protect him from the danger of attack by fellow inmates (Count 1). This claim will receive prompt consideration by the magistrate judge, as will Plaintiff's pending motions for injunctive relief. Further, Defendant Warden Harrington shall remain in the action for the purpose of implementing any injunctive relief to which Plaintiff may ultimately be entitled if he should prevail. See Gonzalez v. Feinerman, 663 F.3d 311, 315 (7th Cir. 2011) (proper defendant in a claim for injunctive relief is the government official responsible for ensuring any injunctive relief is carried out).

However, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for deliberate indifference to his need for medical care following the September 27, 2013, attack (Count 2). He has not connected this claim to any named Defendant, or to any other individual who allegedly denied his request for medical care. Nor has he described his condition, thus, the Court is unable to determine whether he had a serious medical need for treatment after the attack. Count 2 shall therefore be dismissed without prejudice. If Plaintiff wishes to further pursue this claim, he may submit an amended complaint, within such timeline as the magistrate judge may impose.

Defendants Chief Administrative Officers and Office of Internal Affairs

Plaintiff does not make any allegations against any "Chief Administrative Officers" in his complaint. Plaintiffs are required to associate specific defendants with specific claims, so that defendants are put on notice of the claims brought against them and so they can properly answer the complaint. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). Where a plaintiff has not included a defendant in his statement of the claim, the defendant cannot be said to be adequately put on notice of which claims in the complaint, if any, are directed against him.

Further, Plaintiff does not identify any individuals associated with Internal Affairs who have placed him in danger. The "Office of Internal Affairs" is not an entity that may be sued in a civil rights action, because it is an administrative division within the prison. Only "persons" are subject to suit for causing a violation of a prisoner's civil rights under color of law. The Supreme Court has held that "neither a State nor its officials acting in their official capacities are persons' under § 1983." Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). See also Wynn v. Southward, 251 F.3d 588, 592 (7th Cir. 2001) (Eleventh Amendment bars suits against states in federal court for money damages); Billman v. Ind. Dep't of Corr., 56 F.3d 785, 788 (7th Cir. 1995) (state Department of Corrections is immune from suit by virtue of Eleventh Amendment); Hughes v. Joliet Corr. Ctr., 931 F.2d 425, 427 (7th Cir. 1991) (same); Santiago v. Lane, 894 F.2d 219, 220 n. 3 (7th Cir. 1990) (same). Likewise, neither the Menard Correctional Center nor any of its internal divisions/offices, being part of the Illinois Department of Corrections, can be considered a "person" within the meaning of the Civil Rights Act. See Will, 491 U.S. at 71.

For these reasons, Defendant Chief Administrative Officers and Defendant Internal Affairs Office shall be dismissed ...


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