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Aguado v. Godinez

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

March 24, 2014

RICHARD AGUADO Plaintiff,
v.
DIRECTOR GODINEZ, WARDEN TARRY WILLIAMS, JOHN DOE 1, and JOHN DOE 2, Defendants.

MERIT REVIEW OPINION

SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court for a merit review, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, of Plaintiff Richard Aguado's claims and for consideration of his motion for appointment of counsel and for status.

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. July 3, 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

Aguado is an inmate within the Illinois Department of Corrections. Aguado was housed at the Western Illinois Correctional Center at all relevant times.

Aguado alleges that, in September 2012, a fellow inmate, Billy Miles, was placed in his cell to be his new cellmate. Aguado asserts that Miles was placed in his cell even though Miles is Black and he is White, even though Miles expressed a dislike of being housed with white inmates, even though Miles was moved from his previous cell based upon Miles' threats to his former cellmate, and even though Miles threatened to assault Aguado.

On October 14, 2012, Miles physically assaulted Aguado. Aguado suffered head injuries as a result of the attack and was hospitalized for his injuries. Aguado was unable to eat or to drink for four days as a result of the attack. Accordingly, Aguado names as a party Defendant the placement officer John Doe 1 who was responsible for placing Miles in Aguado's cell despite knowing of Miles' past violence and threats against Aguado.

Aguado also names Correctional Officer John Doe 2 and Warden Tarry Williams as party Defendants. Aguado claims that, after being released from the hospital, correctional officer John Doe 2 and Warden Williams housed and placed Aguado in the same area of the Western Illinois Correctional Center. Aguado alleges that these Defendants' actions caused him fear and anxiety that Miles would attack him again.

Finally, Aguado names S.A. Godinez, the director of the IDOC as a party Defendant. Aguado claims that he wrote to Godinez regarding his situation, and Godinez failed to take any action to protect him. In fact, Aguado alleges that Godinez simply responded: "[I]t is possible these particular officers were not aware of the listing." Accordingly, Aguado has filed this suit alleging that these Defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to protect him from Miles' attack.

The Court finds that Aguado's Complaint states a cause of action upon which relief can be granted breaching their duty to protect him from known risks under the Eighth Amendment. "The Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment requires that prison officials take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.' Therefore, those charged with the high responsibility of running prisons are required, as a matter of constitutionally imposed duty, to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners.'" Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749, 758 (7th Cir. 2010)(quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994)).

However, prison officials only have a duty to protect inmates from known dangers. Butera v. Cottey, 285 F.3d 601, 605 (7th Cir. 2002). "[T]he duty is violated only by deliberate indifference to a known substantial risk. Prison and jail officials' [are] not... required to guarantee the detainee's safety. The existence or possibility of other better policies which might have been used does not necessarily mean that the defendant was being deliberately indifferent." Smith v. Sangamon ...


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