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MacK v. Herrington

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 16, 2014

HENRY L. MACK, # B-53412, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff is an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections. He had been incarcerated at Western Illinois Correctional Center ("Western") until a recent temporary transfer to Dixon Correctional Center (Doc. 6). He brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, complaining of constitutional violations that occurred during his prior incarceration at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), as well as other violations occurring at Western. Plaintiff is serving three ten-year sentences for sexual assault. His Menard claims concern deprivation of legal documents relating to Plaintiff's criminal case as well as a pending civil case. The claims against prison officials at Western assert retaliation and deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition.

Plaintiff has organized the factual allegations of his complaint into three sections, labeled as "Claims I-III." Each set of claims is summarized below.

Claim I

This claim is against Menard Defendants Herrington and Quall. On February 12, 2013, Plaintiff was due to be transferred from Menard on a court writ to Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville") (Doc. 1, p. 4). He was taken to the personal property office at Menard to have his belongings stored until his return, and also to review the "writ property" items (legal documents) which were to be sent along with him to Stateville. Menard was on lockdown at the time, so Plaintiff's hands were cuffed behind his back during this movement.

Defendant Quall was on duty at the property office, and presented Plaintiff with an inventory sheet of the personal property that was going to storage. Plaintiff told him that the inventory was correct, and Defendant Quall told Plaintiff to sign the document. Plaintiff was unable to do so with his hands cuffed, so Defendant Quall signed Plaintiff's name for him. Plaintiff objected, saying, "I don't approve of people signing my name" (Doc. 1 p. 5). This infuriated Defendant Quall, who responded, "F**k it then, your property just won't go with you then." Id.

After arriving at Stateville, Plaintiff discovered that in fact none of his writ property was sent there with him. Moreover, when he returned to Menard on February 27, 2013, and retrieved his other stored property, the writ property was not there (Doc. 1, p. 6). Defendant Quall laughed when Plaintiff asked him about the writ items. None of that writ material has ever been found in the 17 months since the incident. The missing items included "urgent, irreplaceable legal documents" relating to Plaintiff's criminal and civil cases, including witness affidavits Plaintiff needs for his post-conviction case. He asserts those documents are critical because neither witness is now willing to cooperate with him. The property also included copies of "grievances that went missing while in the care of Menard C. C. counselors, which led to [Plaintiff] losing a Pavey hearing" in his previous case now pending in this Court, Mack v. Fahim, Case No. 12-cv-986-MJR-SCW.[1]

Plaintiff filed a grievance over Defendant Quall's conduct, which he also forwarded to Defendant Warden Herrington. He never got a response, and was transferred to Western on March 6, 2013. In addition, Plaintiff complains that Defendant Herrington failed to notify "proper authorities" or initiate a criminal investigation over Defendant Quall's forgery of Plaintiff's signature on the property inventory sheet (Doc. 1, p. 8).

Claim II

The remaining events outlined in the statement of claim all occurred at Western Illinois Correctional Center (Doc. 1, pp. 9-20). First, Defendant Olson (Library Clerk) discarded the response Plaintiff had prepared to the pending motion for summary judgment filed by the defendants in Case No. 12-cv-986-MJR-SCW. Plaintiff then had to re-draft the entire document, without the exhibits he planned to submit, because the first set of papers he mailed to Defendant Olson for filing contained his only originals (Doc. 1, p. 10). She filed the second response for him on April 15, 2013, but refused to include a page on which Plaintiff described her conduct in discarding the original response and exhibits.[2] Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Olson's conduct was in retaliation for his activity of filing suit against her fellow IDOC co-workers.

Claim III

Plaintiff's final claim is against Western Defendants Doctor Baker and Nurse Practitioner Mills, for failing to treat and delaying treatment of a recurring ear infection (Doc. 1, pp. 12-13, 15-16, 18), and failing to treat his diverticulosis and bloody stool (Doc. 1, pp. 14, 17-20). In addition to displaying deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical conditions, he alleges that these Defendants' refusal to address his bloody stool condition was in retaliation for the fact he had sued several Menard employees and health professionals over failing to treat that same medical problem (Doc. 1, pp. 19-20).[3] Plaintiff observed Defendant Baker reading legal documents relating to that earlier lawsuit which were contained in Plaintiff's medical file.

Finally, Plaintiff includes Defendant Williams (Warden at Western) in both Claim II and Claim III, because he failed to intervene after receiving emergency grievances over the lack of medical care, as well as the actions of Defendant Olson.

Severance of Claims Against Western Correctional Center Defendants

At the outset, it is clear from the complaint that Plaintiff has improperly joined two sets of claims that belong in separate lawsuits. In George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007), the Seventh Circuit emphasized that unrelated claims against different defendants belong in separate actions, "not only to prevent the sort of morass" produced by multi-claim, multi-defendant suits "but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees" under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. George, 507 F.3d at 607, (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b), (g)). Plaintiff's complaint contains two distinct sets of claims against different defendants: (1) "Claim I" against Menard Defendants Quall and Herrington regarding the deprivation and destruction of Plaintiff's legal documents (Doc. 1, pp. 4-8); and (2) "Claim II" against Western Defendants Olson and Williams for retaliation (Doc. 1, pp. 9-11) and "Claim III" against Western Defendants Baker, Mills, and Williams for deliberate indifference to medical needs and for retaliation (Doc. 1, pp. 12-20). The events underlying Claim I, which arose in Menard, are factually and legally unrelated to the matters raised in Claims II and III, which arose ...

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