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Douglas v. Hobart

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 19, 2013

JAMALE DOUGLAS, Plaintiff,
v.
MAJOR HOBART, et, al, Defendants.

MERIT REVIEW OPINION

JAMES E. SHADID, Chief District Judge.

This cause is before the Court for a merit review, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, of Plaintiff Jamale Douglas' claims.

I.

MERIT REVIEW UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 1915(A)

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A, the Court is required to carefully screen a complaint filed by a plaintiff who seeks to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court must dismiss a complaint, or a portion thereof, if the plaintiff has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious, " that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. The test for determining if an action is frivolous or without merit is whether the plaintiff can make a rational argument on the law or facts in support of the claim. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A complaint fails to state a claim for relief if the complaint does not allege "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); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009).

In reviewing the complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true and liberally construes them in plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 651 (7th Cir. 2013). Conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8; Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012) (holding that, in order to determine if a complaint states a plausible claim, the court must take non-conclusory, non-speculative facts as true, draw all reasonable inferences in the pleader's favor, and isolate and ignore statements that simply rehash claim elements or offer only legal labels and conclusions). Instead, sufficient facts must be provided to "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Alexander v. United States, 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013) (internal quotation omitted).

II.

ANALYSIS

A. Douglas' factual allegations must be liberally construed.

Douglas has filed the instant suit asserting four causes of action against Defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Illinois state law.[1] Douglas is an inmate within the Illinois Department of Corrections who is housed at the Pontiac Correctional Center in Pontiac, Illinois.

Douglas claims that on August 21, 2012, he was "rapping" and bagging on his cell door in order to keep rhythm for his rap. A few minutes later, Defendant Correctional Officer Newhall directed him to stop beating on the cell door. Douglas claims that he stopped hitting the cell door approximately 20 seconds after being directed to do so by Officer Newhall.

Nevertheless, Defendant Lt. Rosenberg instructed Douglas again to stop beating on his cell door. Shortly thereafter, Defendant Major Hobart arrived at Douglas' cell in a rage and ordered Douglas to turn on his cell's lights. When Douglas questioned the reason for Major Hobart's anger and instructions, Major Hobart directed Douglas to come to the cell door so that he could handcuff Douglas and informed Douglas that, if Douglas did not comply, he would spray Douglas with mace to make him comply. Even though he was not resisting, Douglas claims that Major Hobart sprayed mace in his face and that the mace caused burning in his eyes and throat. Douglas also claims that he placed a sheet in front of his face to block the mace and that Major Hobart used Douglas' actions as a justification for spraying mace in his face a second time under the false pretense that Douglas was attempting to commit suicide by placing the sheet around his neck.

After the mace had taken effect, Major Blackard was able to handcuff Douglas and transported Douglas to the "bullpen" where Major Blackard further secured Douglas' handcuffs to a bolt attached to the wall. Despite Douglas being handcuffed, Major Blackard began screaming in Douglas' face. Douglas, in return, stood up from the bench upon which he had been sitting and began screaming at Major Blackard, and Major Blackard retaliated by pushing Douglas down to the bench upon which Douglas had been sitting.

Sometime thereafter, Defendant Alton Angus, a psychologist at the Pontiac Correctional Center, approached Douglas and asked Douglas what had happened. According to Douglas, Angus knew what had happened because Angus was present and had heard everything that had transpired. Angus then asked Douglas if he were suicidal, and Douglas responded: "No." Nevertheless, Angus-in concert with ...


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