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Winkfield v. Warden, Sgt. Folsom

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 19, 2014

LARRY WINKFIELD, #R-74765, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN, SGT. FOLSOM, C/O DEEN, LT. QUIGLEY, and UNKOWN PARTY, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Larry Winkfield, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center ("Pontiac"), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1) for constitutional deprivations that arose from his assault by two officials at Shawnee Correctional Center ("Shawnee") on August 20, 2013. Plaintiff now sues the two officials, Sergeant Folsom and C/O Deen, for their use of excessive force against him and for his subsequent denial of access to medical care. He also sues three other officials, including Shawnee's warden, Lieutenant Quigley, and Internal Affairs Officer Doe, in conjunction with this incident. Plaintiff seeks monetary relief (Doc. 1, p. 9).

The Complaint

According to the complaint, Plaintiff was assaulted by Defendants Folsom and Deen on August 20, 2013 (Doc. 1, pp. 5-8). On that date, Defendant Folsom asked Plaintiff to identify the owner of a bottle of body wash in Plaintiff's cell. Plaintiff identified the body wash as his own. When Defendant Folsom asked Plaintiff to explain why it was in his cell, Plaintiff responded, "... to wash up and to clean my cell[.] [W]hy do you think people got bodywash in there cell for? [T]hat was a crazy a** question you ask me why do you got soap at home for sir[']?(sic)" (Doc. 1, p. 6).

In response to Plaintiff's comments, Defendant Folsom allegedly "threw" Plaintiff's head into the wall and punched him in the left eye, causing Plaintiff to become dizzy and suffer from blurred vision (Doc. 1, p. 6). Defendant Deen entered the cell and used his body to pin Plaintiff against the wall, as Plaintiff and Defendant Folsom "had a few more words" (Doc. 1, p. 6). Defendant Folsom tossed Plaintiff's fan onto the floor, destroying it. Both Defendants then pulled Plaintiff's arm through the chuckhole to take off his handcuffs and cut Plaintiff's arm in the process, causing bad bleeding.

Plaintiff informed the "major, warden, and lieutenant" about the assault (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). In response, they placed him in handcuffs and moved him to a different cell "out of spite" (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff wrote a grievance and a letter to internal affairs, but he received no response.

Plaintiff also told Defendant Quigley about his injuries during an adjustment committee hearing that followed (Doc. 1, p. 7). Defendant Quigley agreed to talk to internal affairs about the incident and to have photos taken of Plaintiff's swollen eye, but nothing was ever done. Plaintiff also provided Defendant Quigley with the names of potential witnesses, but none were ever contacted.

Plaintiff received no medical treatment for his injuries until the day after the incident. At some point, a doctor gave him Prednisolone[1] for his eye and recommended treatment at a hospital (Doc. 1, p. 8). However, as of the date he filed this action approximately nine months later, Plaintiff had not been to a hospital and continues to suffer from blurry vision and a runny eye.

Plaintiff now sues Defendants Shawnee's warden, Folsom, Deen, Quigley, and Doe for unspecified constitutional violations that allegedly resulted from the incident on August 20, 2013. He seeks monetary damages (Doc. 1, p. 9).

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). After carefully considering the allegations, the Court finds that Plaintiff's complaint survives preliminary review under § 1915A.

Discussion

Plaintiff brings this suit against five state officials for constitutional violations that arose from his alleged assault on August 20, 2013. In the absence of any reference to specific constitutional violations, the Court finds it convenient to divide the complaint into four counts for the purpose of this discussion. The parties and the Court will use these designations ...


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