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Burris v. Doe #1

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 28, 2014

CEASAR M. BURRIS, Jr., #M80496, Plaintiff,
JOHN DOE #1, JOHN DOE #2, JOHN DOE #3, and JOHN DOE #4, Defendants.


STACI M. YANDLE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ceasar Burris, Jr., an inmate who is incarcerated at Vienna Correctional Center ("Vienna"), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for unspecified constitutional deprivations (Doc. 1). He is currently serving a four-year sentence for burglary. In the complaint, Plaintiff claims that he was denied adequate medical care for a leg and foot injury that he sustained during his arrest in Cahokia, Illinois, on January 29, 2013 (Doc. 1, pp. 3-6). Plaintiff now sues four unidentified police officers in connection with these injuries, including John Doe #1, #3, and #4 (Cahokia police officers) and John Doe #2 (Dupo police officer).[1] He seeks monetary damages and corrective surgery (Doc. 1, p. 6).

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). The complaint survives preliminary review under § 1915A.

The Complaint

In the early hours of January 29, 2013, Plaintiff and a friend sought shelter from the rain in an abandoned house in Cahokia, Illinois (Doc. 1, p. 3). The two were trespassing at the time. As they smoked a cigarette in the back room, two unidentified police officers, Defendants Doe #1 (Cahokia officer) and Doe #2 (Dupo officer), entered the room and screamed, "[G]et down and don[']t move, n**gers" (Doc. 1, p. 4). In response, Plaintiff and his companion threw their hands up in the air and turned around. As Defendant Doe #1 arrested Plaintiff's friend, Defendant Doe #2 turned his attention to Plaintiff, yelling, "[N]**ger[, ] didn[']t I just tell you to get the f**k down?" (Doc. 1, p. 4). Defendant Doe #2 then pushed Plaintiff through the back window of the house, causing glass from the window to break and become embedded in his leg. As Plaintiff lay on the ground, he was handcuffed.

Plaintiff allegedly screamed, "[M]y leg, something has happen[ed] to my leg!" A third defendant, John Doe #3 (Cahokia officer), walked toward Plaintiff, saying "I hate you cott[o]n-picking a*s n**gers." He then kicked Plaintiff twice in the back and once in the left side of his face. Defendant Doe #2 attempted to pull Plaintiff to his feet, but Plaintiff was unable to stand. He again told the officers that something was wrong with his leg, and he could no longer feel it.

Plaintiff was taken to the Cahokia Police Department, where he continued to complain of a leg injury during booking. In response, Defendant Doe #3 told Plaintiff that there "would be hell to pay" if he did not stop complaining (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff asked to be taken to the hospital, and the booking officer, Defendant Doe #4, told Plaintiff and paramedics that no hospital visit was required to treat his "scratch." At that point, Plaintiff was allowed to see the wound. The complaint describes a cut so deep that it exposed Plaintiff's "shin bone, with flesh hanging out [of] the cut, [and] blood in [his] jeans [and] shoes" (Doc. 1, p. 5). No medical care was provided. Plaintiff was taken to a cell and forced to sleep on the floor for two days. At the end of this two-day period, Plaintiff again asked Defendant Doe #4 to take him to the hospital, and his request was denied.

He was instead transferred to the jail in St. Clair County, Illinois. During intake, a nurse examined his leg and notified the sheriff that Plaintiff needed immediate medical attention. The Cahokia Police Department was contacted and instructed to take Plaintiff to the hospital. A detective transported Plaintiff to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville, Illinois, where he was given antibiotics, shots, and x-rays. It was then that Plaintiff learned how close he came to losing his leg. The glass severed muscle tissue and nerves, and it remained embedded in his leg.

Plaintiff was taken to Barnes-Jewish Hospital for observation (Doc. 1, p. 6). There, he was given medication and told to follow up with professional care to determine whether feeling and strength could be restored. His medical providers indicated that Plaintiff would continue to feel the sensation of pins and needles in his leg and foot, and he would not be able to apply direct pressure to either area.

Plaintiff has since received virtually no treatment for these injuries, even during his release on bond. Medical professionals at Memorial Hospital in Belleville, Illinois, recommended surgery and follow-up care. To date, Plaintiff has received neither and continues to suffer from pain and other unspecified problems with his leg and foot (Doc. 1, p. 6).

He now sues Defendants Doe #1-#4 for $600, 000 in monetary damages, corrective leg surgery, and "physical and ...

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