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Jumper v. Rice

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 11, 2013

SHERMAN JUMPER, Plaintiff,
v.
RICK WATSON, and THOMAST RICE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Sherman Jumper, a pretrial detainee at St. Clair County Jail ("Jail"), brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-2680 (Doc. 1). Plaintiff sues three St. Clair County Sheriff's Department officials, including Rick Watson (sheriff), Major McLaurin (superintendent), and Thomas Trice (captain), for claims arising from the conditions of his confinement at the Jail (Doc. 1, pp. 5-8). He seeks compensatory and punitive damages (Doc. 1, p. 8).

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). This statute applies with equal force to complaints filed by pretrial detainees. Id. Under § 1915A(b), the Court is required to dismiss any portion of the 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. After fully considering the allegations in the complaint, the Court concludes that it fails to state any cognizable claim and shall be dismissed.

The Complaint

According to the complaint, Plaintiff was exposed to unconstitutional conditions of confinement during his pretrial detention at the Jail from March 15th-June 4th, 2012, and from June 25th - August 6th, 2013 (Doc. 1, p. 5). For two months, he was forced to sleep on the Jail's gymnasium floor with forty other detainees. There, they endured unsanitary conditions, excessive heat, and excessive noise levels. A single toilet served forty detainees. They had problems sleeping because of mice and bugs, persistent noise, and no air conditioning. As temperatures soared above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, five pretrial detainees passed out. Plaintiff complained about these conditions. However, "the defendant's [sic] failed to do anything" about the conditions. Plaintiff requested placement in a cell block, but his request was denied.

On or around July 20, 2013, Plaintiff was assigned to work in the Jail's kitchen (Doc. 1, p. 6). There, he observed mold on the kitchen's ceiling and walls. He observed mice and roaches running on and around food as it was being prepared. He also observed standing water containing dead roaches and mice droppings on the kitchen floor. Plaintiff complained directly to Defendants McLaurin and Trice about the conditions in the kitchen, but Defendants failed to correct the problems.

Soon after complaining about these conditions, Plaintiff was summoned to the gymnasium's stairwell (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). There, four unknown correctional officers beat Plaintiff (Doc. 1, p. 6). They pushed his head into a brick wall five times. They punched him in the ribs and stomach. In the process, one officer pointed a taser gun in Plaintiff's face and threatened to use it if Plaintiff spoke or moved. The officers then threatened to beat Plaintiff again, if he complained about the conditions. Plaintiff did not name any of these unknown officers as defendants in this action.

Plaintiff now sues Defendants Watson, McLaurin, and Trice in their official capacities under § 1983 and the FTCA (Doc. 1). He seeks monetary damages (Doc. 1, p. 8).

DISCUSSION

The Court finds it convenient to divide the complaint 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.

Count 1: FTCA claim against Defendants Watson, McLaurin, and Trice.

Count 2: Conditions of confinement claim against Defendants Watson, McLaurin, and Trice.

Count 3: Excessive force claim against unknown ...


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