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West v. Atchison

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 1, 2014

KENTES WEST, # K-82893, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL P. ATCHISON, CEDRIC A. McDONNOUGH, C. JUDD, A. HOOD, C/O ULEN, HUDSON, C/O BAKER, TIMOTHY VEATH, LINDA WHITESIDE, GROGG, and UNKNOWN PARTY (Health Care Officials), Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Plaintiff is serving sentences for murder and armed robbery. He claims that while he was confined at Menard in 2012, various Defendants failed to protect him from two gang-related attacks perpetrated by other inmates, and he was denied pain medication for his injuries.

More specifically, Plaintiff states that beginning on April 17, 2012, and continuing through late June 2012, he made repeated written and verbal requests to Menard officials for protection from other inmates (Doc. 1, pp. 10-14). He had been threatened by members of the Latin Folks gang, who had ordered a "hit" on him (Doc. 1, p. 18). On April 17, while Plaintiff was housed in Menard's North 2 Unit, he wrote to then-Warden Defendant Atchison and to Defendant Whiteside (Menard Mental Health Director) asking for protection. He received no response from either.

On April 25, 2012, Plaintiff was moved back to the East cell house, where the threat was greater. On May 9, 2012, he explained his concerns to Defendant McDonnough (a correctional officer), and requested to be placed in protective custody (Doc. 1, p. 10). Defendant McDonnough sent Plaintiff downstairs to wait. Defendant McDonnough returned with the cell house sergeant and Defendant Judd. Plaintiff was handcuffed and Defendant Judd took him to North 2 wing. On the way, Plaintiff learned he was being taken to segregation, not protective custody, and the sergeant stated this was because Plaintiff had "refused housing" (Doc. 1, p. 11). Plaintiff protested because he feared he was in greater danger of a "hit" from the problem inmates in segregation. Defendant Judd became angry and tightened Plaintiff's handcuffs to the extent he had pain and numbness for several days. Defendant McDonnough issued Plaintiff a disciplinary ticket for disobeying an order to lock up in his cell (Doc. 1, pp. 2, 29). Plaintiff contends the ticket was fabricated, because he merely requested protective custody and did not disobey any order or refuse housing.

As soon as Plaintiff was placed in segregation, he requested to speak to an Internal Affairs officer about his safety. Over the next several days, Defendants Hood, Baker, and Ulen put off Plaintiff's requests, even though Plaintiff fully explained to them the basis for his fear of an attack.

On May 11, 2012, Plaintiff appeared before Defendant Veath, who chaired the disciplinary committee, for a hearing on the ticket issued by Defendant McDonnough (Doc. 1, pp. 12, 29). Plaintiff stated that he had not refused housing, and explained his safety concerns. Under Defendant Veath's questioning, Plaintiff said that the officers were lying about the incident. Defendant Veath became angry and found Plaintiff guilty of the infraction. He was punished with two months in segregation.

Soon after the hearing, Plaintiff was told by Defendant Ulen that Internal Affairs would be coming to see Plaintiff, but the promised meeting did not happen on May 12. The next day, Plaintiff wrote to Internal Affairs requesting an interview, and sent a second letter to Defendant Atchison.

On May 15, 2012, Plaintiff sent an emergency grievance to Defendant Atchison stating that he was in fear of imminent harm. He saw Defendant Hudson (Internal Affairs officer) in passing, explained his concerns, and asked if he could stay in his single-man cell until his segregation term was over. Defendant Hudson said he would look into the matter. On May 16, Plaintiff personally told Defendant Whiteside of his safety concerns, hoping for assistance and to have those concerns documented (Doc. 1, p. 13).

On May 22, 2012, Plaintiff was moved to a different segregation cell, where he was housed with another inmate (Martinez) whom he suspected of being a Latin Folks gang member. He then found out Martinez was indeed a member of that gang, so Plaintiff lied to him about his name. Plaintiff declined the opportunity to go out of the cell for recreation, to avoid being noticed.

On June 10, 2012, Plaintiff wrote to his counselor (Rowold, who is not a Defendant) to inquire about the emergency grievance he had sent to Defendant Atchison on May 15. On June 20, 2012, Plaintiff wrote to his new counselor (Paine), again inquiring about his grievances, to which he had received no response. On June 22 and 24, 2012, Plaintiff contacted his newest counselor, Defendant Grogg, about his missing grievances (Doc. 1, p. 14). Soon after this, Plaintiff learned that a Latin Folks member known as "Smokey" was housed near him. Plaintiff had specifically mentioned Smokey when he told Defendant Hudson about his fear that he would be harmed.

On July 2, 2012, Martinez (the Latin Folks cellmate) attacked Plaintiff in their cell, hitting him repeatedly with a fan. Plaintiff did not fight back. He was taken to the Health Care Unit with pain in his arm, knee, and shoulder, but the John/Jane Doe who treated him failed to give Plaintiff any pain medication.

On July 4, Plaintiff wrote to Defendant Whiteside asking to move up his appointment with her so he could tell her about the assault. He wrote another emergency grievance to Defendant Atchison on July 12, and sent a copy to Defendant Grogg, informing them of the assault by Martinez. In the grievance, he complained that his pleas for protection had been ignored, and that officials had failed to protect him out of retaliation for an earlier grievance Plaintiff had filed when he first arrived at Menard (Doc. 1, p. 14). Plaintiff does not further describe the nature of that earlier grievance or its date.

On July 17, 2012, while Plaintiff was outside, he was assaulted for a second time by "Smokey" and another Latin Folks member. This time, when no officers intervened to stop the attack, Plaintiff eventually fought back, hitting Smokey while the other inmate was punching Plaintiff on the back of his head.[1] Plaintiff was taken to Health Care with an eye injury, headache, bruises, and minor bleeding. Again, he was not given any pain medication by the unidentified health care worker. The next day (July 18, 2012), Plaintiff was transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center.

In December 2012, Plaintiff had a video hearing before the Administrative Review Board on his protective custody request, which had been denied by Pontiac officials (Doc. 1, p. 15). Plaintiff was eventually approved for protective custody (Doc. 1, p. 9).

Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the Defendants' failure to protect him from the two assaults despite his requests for protection; for denying him access to the court by failing to answer his grievances; and for ...


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