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Miller v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 4, 2014

DAVID L. MILLER, #B-89191, Plaintiff,


J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff David Miller, 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 five Menard officials subjected him to inhumane conditions of confinement and inadequate medical care between August 27th and 30th, 2014 (Doc. 1, p. 2). Plaintiff now sues Tom Mezo (corrections officer), Bill Westfall (security major), Roger Pelker (corrections sergeant), Dr. Trost (medical doctor), and Danella Kim Butler (warden) for these alleged violations of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment, monetary damages, and injunctive relief, including a preliminary injunction. Plaintiff filed his complaint without paying a filing fee for this action or filing a motion to proceed in forma pauperis.

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).

The Complaint

All of the events described in the complaint occurred between August 27th and 30th, 2014 (Doc. 1, pp. 5-8). On August 27th, Defendant Mezo locked Plaintiff in the shower, while Plaintiff's cell was searched (Doc. 1, p. 5). When Plaintiff returned to his cell at 8:00 a.m., the lights no longer worked. Plaintiff is housed in Menard's segregation unit; his cell has a steel door that allows very little light to enter the room (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance about the lighting issue with Defendant Butler around 11:00 a.m. the same day (Doc. 1, p. 5), but he received no response prior to filing this action.

Around the same time, Defendant Mezo transferred Michael Widmer, an inmate who is well-known to this Court, into Plaintiff's cell. Defendant Mezo stated, "Widmer, you can sue me again now" (Doc. 1, p. 5). At 3:00 p.m., Plaintiff's new cellmate advised C/O Fitzgerald[1] that the cell light was broken. C/O Fitzgerald indicated that he would submit a work order and notify his sergeant.

Hours later, at 1:00 a.m. on August 28th, Plaintiff lost his footing as he climbed down from the top bunk in total darkness (Doc. 1, p. 6). He fell to the concrete floor "splitting his face [and] head open and injuring his ribs, back and wrist" (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff believes that he broke bones and sustained other possible internal injuries. He reported the incident to C/O Harris[2] at 2:30 a.m. Twenty minutes later, nine Menard officials, including medical staff, arrived at Plaintiff's cell to assist him. By this time, Plaintiff's bed, mattress, and linens and his cellmate's mattress were covered in blood[3] (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff was treated for cuts and returned to the blood-soaked cell.

Plaintiff's bleeding did not stop, and he continued to suffer from pain. When Plaintiff asked Defendant Mezo to please call medical staff to address his bleeding and pain, Defendant Mezo refused, stating, "F*** you, you crazy old bastard" (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff also asked Defendant Mezo to place him in a clean cell with a working light, or at least provide him with clean linens and a clean mattress. Defendant Mezo denied both requests. Plaintiff wrote directly to Defendants Trost, Butler, Pelker, and Westfall the same day, on August 28th, explaining that he was injured while housed in a dark cell, where he remained surrounded by contaminated linens and no lighting. He asked for medical treatment and a transfer to a cell with properly functioning lighting. Defendants denied these requests.

On August 29th, Defendant Mezo told Plaintiff that he "could just f***ing die for all he cared" (Doc. 1, p. 8). He left the cell without calling medical staff to help Plaintiff.

On August 30th, Plaintiff was seen by medical staff (Doc. 1, p. 7). A medical staff member told Plaintiff that he needed immediate x-rays and an examination by a doctor. Instead, Plaintiff was returned to his cell. Plaintiff alleges that he has "multiple broken bones, " is suffering from "extreme" pain, and has been denied basic medical care, including a low bunk permit (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8). He also claims that he has been subjected to inhumane conditions of confinement in a blood-soaked cell that has no lighting.

Plaintiff now sues Defendants Mezo, Westfall, Pelker, Trost, and Butler, seeking declaratory judgment, monetary damages, and injunctive relief. He has also filed a motion for injunctive relief, in which he requests a hearing "ASAP" to address his need for medical attention and a clean cell with lighting (Doc. 2).


Accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, the Court finds that Plaintiff has articulated the ...

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