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Bible v. Brown

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 7, 2014

THOMAS A. BIBLE, #B83198, Plaintiff,


J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1). In the complaint, Plaintiff claims that he was attacked by nine inmates in 2013, during his incarceration at Jackson County Jail (Doc. 1, p. 2). Plaintiff now sues three Jackson County officials, including the sheriff (Defendant Burns), the central control officer (Defendant Harju), and a corporal (Defendant Stratton), for failing to protect him from the assault (Doc. 1, pp. 2-3). Plaintiff also sues his attackers. He asserts claims against all defendants under the Eighth Amendment and Illinois law (Doc. 1, p. 1). Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment, monetary damages, and injunctive relief.

Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

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). 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

According to the complaint, Plaintiff was the victim of a racially motivated attack at Jackson County Jail ("Jail") on February 3, 2013 (Doc. 1, p. 3). On that date, Plaintiff and two fellow inmates learned that they were being targeted for an assault by several other inmates. Plaintiff wrote a "kite" advising Jail officials of the impending attack and requesting the officials' immediate intervention.

Around four o'clock, Plaintiff handed the note to Defendant Stratton. As he did so, Plaintiff told Defendant Stratton that it was very important to "read the kite and act swiftly due to the threats of great bodily harm against Plaintiff" and other inmates. Defendant Stratton took no action to prevent an attack.

At approximately five o'clock the same day, nine inmates attacked Plaintiff and several others (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff was punched, kicked, and slammed onto the concrete floor. He suffered "lacerations, ... contusions and abrasions." Just before losing consciousness, Plaintiff engaged the panic button. This should have alerted Jail officials to the attack and prompted a response from Defendants Harju and/or Stratton. Neither Defendant responded.

As a result of the assault, Plaintiff sustained physical injuries, which required treatment at a local hospital. He received one staple in his head. Plaintiff now suffers from severe migraine headaches, abdominal pain, breathing difficulties, and psychological trauma (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5).

The nine perpetrators received thirty days in lockdown and a loss of privileges (Doc. 1, p. 6). However, one week after the attack, two of the perpetrators returned to "G" Block, where Plaintiff and several other victims were housed. Jail officials took no action to prevent another assault, beyond observing the inmates briefly.

Plaintiff now sues Defendants Stratton, Harju, and Burns for violating his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff also sues Defendants Stratton, Harju, and Burns under Illinois law for negligence, assault, battery, and emotional distress. Finally, Plaintiff sues his nine inmate attackers for battery and hate crimes under Illinois law and for violating his Eighth Amendment rights (Doc. 1, p. 6).


Count 1: Eighth ...

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