United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.
Plaintiff David Bentz, 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). He is serving a life sentence for murder. In the complaint, Plaintiff claims that several Menard prison officials assaulted him without provocation on May 11, 2014 (Doc. 1, p. 2). The assault resulted from an alleged conspiracy by Menard officials to retaliate against Plaintiff for filing lawsuits. Plaintiff now sues six Menard officials (Defendants Sergeant Qualles, Lieutenant Samuels, Lieutenant Brookman, C/O Moue, C/O Snucker, and C/O Sandler) and several unknown prison officials (Unknown Defendants) for the role they each played in the assault and its aftermath. Plaintiff asserts claims against Defendants under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as Illinois state law. He seeks declaratory judgment, monetary damages, and "immediate" injunctive relief.
The events giving rise to this action occurred in Menard's North-1 cell house on May 11, 2014 (Doc. 1, p. 3). As Plaintiff exited Eight Gallery on his way to lunch, Defendant Moue threatened to slap Plaintiff across his "mother fu**ing face" the next time Plaintiff passed by him (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4). Several Unknown Defendants stood by and did nothing. When Plaintiff reported the incident to Defendant Brookman, he said he "didn't care" (Doc. 1, p. 4).
After Plaintiff returned from lunch, Defendant Moue approached Plaintiff and pretended to slap him several times, saying, "I know you are a pinciel (sic) pusher and that you file lawsuits...." (Doc. 1, p. 4). Defendants Moue and Qualles then ordered Plaintiff to report to Six Gallery. He complied with the order. As Plaintiff entered Six Gallery, Defendants Qualles, Snucker, and an Unknown Defendant assaulted him. They punched him, grabbed him in the back of the neck, and shoved his face into a wall. All the while, Defendants Moue, Sandler, and several Unknown Defendants stood by without intervening.
Defendant Moue later grabbed Plaintiff by the back of his shirt, twisting it until Plaintiff could not breathe. In this manner, he dragged Plaintiff from Six Gallery to Five Gallery. Defendant Moue then picked Plaintiff up by the neck and repeatedly slammed his head into the wall saying, "I am going to kill you!" (Doc. 1, p. 4). Defendants Snucker and Qualles joined Defendant Moue, while several Unknown Defendants watched (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff eventually passed out. When he regained consciousness, Defendants Moue, Snucker, and Qualles continued to assault him and threaten his life.
Following the assault, Plaintiff was allowed to return to his cell. There, he asked Defendant Sandler and an Unknown Defendant for medical treatment. In response, the Unknown Defendant threatened to beat Plaintiff if he reported the assault (Doc. 1, p. 5).
Plaintiff reported the assault to Defendant Samuels in the prison yard that afternoon (Doc. 1, p. 5). He requested medical care and a meeting with internal affairs. He pleaded for a transfer to another cell house. He even contacted a friend from the prison yard phone and asked her to notify the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") that Plaintiff's life was in danger. Although Defendant Samuels promised to assist Plaintiff twice, he took no action. Instead, he threatened Plaintiff with a disciplinary ticket if he did not return to his cell. Defendant Samuels told another officer that Plaintiff was "full of sh**" (Doc. 1, p. 6).
Plaintiff later reported the incident to an Unknown Defendant-Lieutenant, who worked the 3:00-11:00 p.m. shift. Plaintiff complained of jaw and neck pain. He asked for medical care. The Unknown Defendant-Lieutenant agreed to assist Plaintiff, on condition that he "not make a case" about the incident. When Plaintiff agreed, he was escorted to see Unknown Defendant-Nurse around 8:45 p.m. that night. Unknown Defendant-Nurse failed to properly treat Plaintiff, refusing Plaintiff's request for pain medication, x-rays, and other diagnostic tests. Plaintiff's subsequent requests for treatment were ignored. During the appointment, an Unknown Defendant stood in the doorway to prevent Plaintiff from reporting the assault. The same Unknown Defendant refused to contact internal affairs on behalf of Plaintiff because he did not want to "go over Samuels (sic) head" (Doc. 1, p. 6).
Plaintiff's subsequent attempts to obtain medical treatment and report the incident were fruitless. He filed an emergency grievance with the warden, a written request for a meeting with internal affairs, and numerous requests for medical care with correctional officers (Doc. 1, p. 7). Defendant Brookman told Plaintiff that his five requests for medical care were "forwarded to the trash can" (Doc. 1, p. 7).
Plaintiff now claims that Defendants conspired to deprive Plaintiff of his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments in retaliation for filing lawsuits. He asserts Illinois assault, battery, and negligence claims against Defendants. Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment and monetary damages. In addition, he requests an "immediate" injunction ordering the IDOC to treat his suspected broken jaw and swollen neck and to arrange a court conference to address his safety concerns (Doc. 1, p. 10).
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).
Accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, the Court finds that Plaintiff has articulated the following colorable federal claims, as well as the below-listed state law claims which are subject to further consideration under this Court's supplemental jurisdiction ( see 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a)):
Count 1: Civil conspiracy claim against all defendants, except Unknown Defendant-Nurse, for their group participation in the assault on May ...