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Gardner v. Parties

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 14, 2014

GABRIEL A. GARDNER, No. M33236, Plaintiff,
v.
IDOC, WARDEN MARTIN, ERIC MIRANDA, and UNKNOWN PARTIES, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Gabriel A. Gardner, an inmate in Vienna Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on events that occurred while he was housed at Shawnee Correctional Center. More specifically, it is alleged that Plaintiff's cellmate repeatedly abused, beat and raped him during a two-month period in 2013.

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening. - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal. - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 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). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that "no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit." Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). 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. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the 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 relatively succinct complaint, during May and June of 2013, Plaintiff's cellmate at Shawnee Correctional Center, Eric Miranda, escalated from slapping Plaintiff around to preventing him from receiving his meals, to more severe beatings, to forced oral sex, and eventually to rape-often involving Plaintiff being tied up. According to the complaint, "[t]he segregation staff had a gross disregard for what was being done to [Plaintiff]." (Doc. 1, p. 6). That quoted assertion is the sole mention of the involvement of prison personnel in the events at issue.

Attached to the complaint is a letter from the Johnson County State's Attorney indicating that inmate Miranda had pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and was sentenced to a ten-year term of imprisonment, to run consecutively to his current sentence (Doc. 1, p. 13). Three pages of recent mental health progress notes are also appended to the complaint (Doc. 1, pp. 10-12).

Suit is brought against three named parties and numerous unidentified correctional officers and nurses at Shawnee. The named defendants are: Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"), Warden Martin, and inmate Miranda. Compensatory and punitive damages are sought.

Discussion

The allegations in the complaint are certainly fodder for a claim that prison officials failed to protect Plaintiff from harm at the hands of inmate Miranda, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. There may also be other possible claims under the Eighth Amendment for deliberate indifference, but the scant factual narrative does not allow for more than mere speculation. In any event, the complaint must be dismissed for the reasons set forth below. Dismissal will be without prejudice, ...


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