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Clark v. Cartwright

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 7, 2014

DANIEL CLARK, # K-98637, Plaintiff,


J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center ("Pontiac"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His claim arose while he was confined at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"). Plaintiff is serving a nine-year sentence for a drug offense. He claims that three of the Defendants used excessive force against him after he had attempted suicide.

Plaintiff states that on September 11, 2013, he told Defendant Korando (a correctional officer) that he needed to speak to somebody from mental health (Doc. 1, p. 12). Defendant Korando ignored this request and told Plaintiff to write a grievance. Plaintiff then tied a bed sheet to his cell bars and put the other end around his neck in an attempt to hang himself. When Defendant Korando returned for a cell check, he saw Plaintiff hanging by his neck, but walked on past the cell (Doc. 1, p.13). He returned in a couple of minutes and grabbed the sheet, then tried to strangle Plaintiff while yelling racial insults at him. The shouting woke up Plaintiff's cellmate, who told Defendant Korando to get off Plaintiff and go get him some help. At that point, Defendant Korando called for Defendant Pilker (supervising sergeant) on his radio.

Defendants Korando and Pilker took Plaintiff, in handcuffs, to a room in the health care unit. They told him to bend over, put his chin on the hospital bed, and look straight at the wall (Doc. 1, p. 14). Plaintiff complied, and Defendant Korando squeezed the back of Plaintiff's neck, pushing him down on the mattress while holding his handcuffs. Then Defendant Pilker repeatedly kicked Plaintiff in the buttocks. During this attack, Defendant Pilker commented that they "ain't about to be saving no ni***rs from killing they self [sic]." Id.

Defendant Cartright (supervising lieutenant) arrived some 15 minutes later, and began choking Plaintiff with both hands around his neck, cursing him with racial insults. He shoved Plaintiff, causing him to strike his elbow on the sink, then picked him back up, choked him again, and spit in his face.

Eventually these three Defendants took Plaintiff to mental health. When Defendant Doctor Hillerman arrived, Plaintiff asked to speak with him alone (Doc. 1, p. 15). However, he directed Plaintiff to talk to him in the presence of the three other Defendants or he could return to his cell. Plaintiff told Defendant Hillerman that he was "feeling suicidal and homicidal because the C/O's just jumped on [him] for no reason, " and he was depressed over being unable to contact his family and kids. Id. Defendant Hillerman ended the conversation and told the three Defendant officers that Plaintiff could go back to his cell, or to the cell that they had for him.

Defendants Korando, Pilker, and Cartwright took Plaintiff to a different cell with no working water, no personal property, and no ventilation, and refused his request to get his inhaler (Doc. 1, p. 16). The next day, another doctor (Dr. Whiteside, who is not a Defendant) placed Plaintiff on suicide watch (apparently in a different cell) after he told her he was feeling suicidal and homicidal. At some point, Plaintiff was transferred from Menard to Pontiac.

Plaintiff seeks damages for the violations of his constitutional rights. It also appears that he wishes to assert a claim for "assault and battery, " and for official misconduct in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 14141(Doc. 1, p. 12).

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 Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Korando, Pilker, and Cartwright for the excessive use of force (Count 1). In addition, based on these same facts, he may proceed on a state law battery claim against Defendants Korando, Pilker, and Cartwright (Count 2) pursuant to this Court's supplemental jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

However, Plaintiff cannot maintain a private cause of action for official misconduct under 42 U.S.C. § 14141 (Count 3), nor has he stated a claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement (Count 4). Further, his allegations against Defendant Hillerman fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Counts 3 and 4, and Defendant Hillerman shall be dismissed from the action for the following reasons.

Dismissal of Count 3 - Official Misconduct

The statute cited by Plaintiff, 42 U.S.C. § 14141, provides that the Attorney General may seek equitable and declaratory relief in a civil action, in order to eliminate a pattern or practice of violations of constitutional rights on the part of law enforcement officers. This statute does not authorize a private citizen to bring a suit seeking damages for official misconduct. Instead, Plaintiff's recourse is a suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 over violations of his constitutional rights by officials who have acted under color of ...

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