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Jones v. Ford

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 19, 2014



PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Qwanell Jones, a pretrial detainee in the Madison County Jail, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Jones contends Alton police officers violated his constitutional rights during his arrest and prior to his being transferred to the Madison County Jail. Plaintiff also takes issue with the medical care offered by medical staff at the Madison County Jail.

Because Plaintiff is a prisoner, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint. Section § 1915A provides:

(a) Screening.- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal.- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint- (1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that "no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit." Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "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). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross "the line between possibility and plausibility. Id. at 557. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

The Complaint

Plaintiff Jones contends that on December 3, 2013, he was arrested by four to six Alton police officers, including Officer Ford. During the course of the arrest, Plaintiff was allegedly forcefully taken to the ground, and then beaten and kicked, although he had not been aggressive and was trying to be compliant. Plaintiff sustained multiple injuries, principally to his left testicle, back and ankle. When Plaintiff requested medical care, the officers only threatened to inflict more harm (by Officer Ford in particular). The officers then took $600.00 from Plaintiff and commented that only half would get turned in at the police station. Although Plaintiff had not been read the Miranda warnings, he requested an attorney, but Officer Ford continued to question him. While being booked at the Alton Police Department, Plaintiff again asked for medical care, to no avail. He also requested an attorney, but the questioning continued. Plaintiff was in pain for three days, until he was transferred to the Madison County Jail.

Plaintiff was given any medical attention upon his arrival at the Madison County Jail, but there is no indication he requested care, or that his injuries were such that his need for medical care was obvious. After one day, Plaintiff submitted a sick call slip to see a nurse. The nurse questioned Plaintiff and said he would be seen by a doctor, but no pain medication was issued. Plaintiff was subsequently seen by a doctor, who indicated that a specialist would have to examine Plaintiff's swollen testicle. Medication for an infection was prescribed, but no pain medication or sleeping pills were issued. Plaintiff rejected ice for his swollen testicle, not wanting to appear weak and injured in front of other inmates. Plaintiff has never received satisfactory medical attention.

Plaintiff is also served fish every Friday, even though he told the nurse and doctor who saw him that he is allergic to fish. Consequently, he goes hungry on Fridays.

Based on the allegations in the complaint and attached narrative of his claims, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action 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. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

Count 1: Officer Ford and Unknown Officers of the Alton Police Department used excessive force in arresting Plaintiff, in ...

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