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Suggs v. Watson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 4, 2014

DEANDRE SUGGS, # 449749, Plaintiff,
v.
RICK WATSON, THOMAS TRICE, PHIL MCLAURIN, and CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SABO, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Deandre Suggs, currently incarcerated at the St. Clair County Jail, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Federal Tort Claims Act, ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-2680.

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which 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. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the 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 claims that in December 2013 he was strip searched in a public, humiliating fashion by Correctional Officer Sabo. He subsequently told Major Phil McLaurin and Captain Thomas Trice, but they did nothing-which Plaintiff characterizes as "deliberate indifference." Plaintiff further alleges that Sheriff Rick Watson, in his official capacity, was "deliberately indifferent" and "negligent, " in failing to properly train Jail staff regarding strip search procedures and failing to respond to complaints of constitutional violations by his staff. Plaintiff also complains about the conditions of his confinement. He was confined in a cold cell for four and a half days with no mattress or blanket. When Plaintiff complained to Correctional Officer Sabo, Sabo did nothing but threaten Plaintiff about complaining.

Based on the allegations in the complaint, 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: Correctional Officer Sabo strip searched Plaintiff in a fashion that violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments;
Count 2: Major Phil McLaurin and Captain Thomas Trice were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's complaints about the strip search itself and the strip search policy, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments;
Count 3: Sheriff Rick Watson, in his official capacity, was negligent and deliberately indifferent by failing to properly train Jail employees regarding strip searches, and by failing to act in response to complaints of constitutional ...

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