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Davis v. Haynes

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

November 20, 2013

ERIC DAVIS, # R-64180, Plaintiff,
v.
C/O HAYNES, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for leave to file amended complaint (Doc. 15). Plaintiff filed this motion on November 7, 2013, less than one month after filing his original complaint (Doc. 1) and just two days after the Court entered its threshold order (Doc. 8). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1) states that "[a] party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within: (A) 21 days after serving it, or (B) if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading[.]" Plaintiff's motion is timely and complies with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1).

In this District, "[a] proposed amendment to a pleading or amended pleading itself must be submitted at the time the motion to amend is filed." See Local Rule 15.1. Plaintiff's motion includes a proposed amended complaint that appears to be complete and in full compliance with Local Rule 15.1. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion for leave to file amended complaint (Doc. 15) shall be GRANTED.

Turning to the merits of the amended complaint, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints, including amended complaints, to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the amended complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

The Amended Complaint

Besides naming Sergeant Schurtz ("Defendant Schurtz") as a defendant in the action, the amended complaint is virtually identical to the original complaint.[1] According to the amended complaint, Plaintiff was beaten without provocation by three Menard correctional officers on August 28, 2013 (p. 5). These officers included Defendants Haynes, Winters, and Laminack. At the time, Plaintiff was handcuffed and complying with Defendant Haynes' direct order to remove braids from his hair. Even so, Defendant Haynes grabbed Plaintiff by the arm and threw him to the ground, causing Plaintiff's head to "bounce off the ground" (p. 5). Defendants Laminack and Winters jumped on top of Plaintiff, choked him, and twisted his foot and leg "as if trying to break them" (p. 5). While choking Plaintiff, Defendant Winters stated, "I could kill you" (p. 5). Defendant Haynes then escorted Plaintiff to a small room and, without provocation, struck him in the mouth with a closed fist (p. 6). The assault caused injuries to Plaintiff's head, jaw, and leg. He suffered extreme pain and emotional anguish. Plaintiff continues to experience leg pain when walking.

On August 29th, Plaintiff was transferred to a cell that had no cold water for eleven days and no bedding for five days (p. 6). He had to rest on a moldy mattress, which caused him to feel sick to his stomach. Defendant Schurtz was responsible for denying Plaintiff a proper cell. On August 30th, Defendant Goetz refused to feed Plaintiff. Defendant Kemper[2] refused to do the same on August 31st. Plaintiff asked Defendants Goetz and Kemper for bedding and a cell transfer, to no avail.

Plaintiff filed multiple grievances to address his concerns (pp. 6-7). He submitted a written request to Defendant Schurtz[3] for bedding and a cell transfer, as well as a complaint about Defendants Goetz's and Kemper's denial of his food request (p. 6). He submitted three requests to the medical director for treatment of an unspecified condition without receiving any response (p. 7). Plaintiff also filed grievances on September 3rd, September 23rd, and October 2nd to have a false disciplinary report expunged. Finally, on September 3rd, he filed an emergency grievance with Defendant Harrington[4] to address the assault, the cell conditions, and the denial of food; in the emergency grievance, Plaintiff requested a prison transfer because he was in fear for his life (p. 7). As of October 11th, the date he commenced this action, Plaintiff had received no response to his emergency grievance.

Plaintiff now sues Defendants Haynes, Winters, and Laminack in their individual and official capacities for conspiring to use excessive force against him (p. 5). He sues Menard's medical director for ignoring his requests for medical treatment. Plaintiff names Defendants Goetz, Kemper, and Schurtz in the statement of claim for denying his request for food, bedding, and a cell transfer. He names Defendant Harrington for ignoring his emergency grievance regarding the assault, cell conditions, and prison transfer request. Finally, Plaintiff sues Defendant Schurtz for ignoring Plaintiff's grievances.

Discussion

Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment excessive force claim (Count 1) against Defendants Haynes, Winters, and Laminack for allegedly assaulting Plaintiff on August 28th warrants further review. Likewise, Plaintiff's conspiracy claim (Count 2) against Defendants Haynes, Winters, and Laminack for the same incident warrants further consideration. Finally, Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim (Count 3) against Defendants Goetz and Kemper for the deprivation of food, bedding, and sanitary cell conditions shall be given further consideration; Plaintiff shall also be allowed to proceed against Defendant Schurtz on this claim. Defendant Harrington, Menard's warden, shall remain in this action in his official capacity, based on Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief. See Delaney v. DeTella, 256 F.3d 679, 687 (7th Cir. 2001) (warden could be liable for injunctive relief relative to a prison policy imposing an unconstitutional condition of confinement).

Dismissal of Counts 4, 5, and 6

The amended complaint does not revive the Eighth Amendment medical claim (Count 4) against Defendant Unknown Party (i.e., Menard's medical director), the claim for ignoring Plaintiff's grievances (Count 5) against Defendants Schurtz and Harrington, or the claim for issuing and failing to expunge a false disciplinary ticket (Count 6) against Defendants. The Court fully adopts and incorporates by reference its legal analysis in the original threshold order ...


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