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Abuharba v. Watson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 14, 2014

MOHAMMED ABUHARBA, No. 445413, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD WATSON, THOMAS TRICE, STEVEN STRUBBERG, and NANCY SUTHERLIN, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Mohammed Abuharba, a pretrial detainee in the St. Clair County Jail, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on the conditions of his confinement and a related act of retaliation.

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 complaint, Plaintiff Abuharba has been housed in the St. Clair County Jail since February 10, 2014. He complains of unsafe and unhealthy conditions of confinement, including but not limited to mold in his cell and in the shower area, insects, paint chips landing in his food, toilets that only flush on a timer, and overflowing toilets that flood his cell.

After Plaintiff lodged a grievance about his living conditions, Lt. Nancy Sutherlin forced him to move to the dayroom, where he slept on the floor for months. When he filed a grievance about sleeping on the floor, Cpt. Thomas Trice and Sgt. Steven Stubberg appeared on Plaintiff's cellblock and "screamed and cussed, " threatening to house the prisoners in the maximum security unit if they continued to file grievances. Trice and Strubberg then actually ordered that Plaintiff be moved to the maximum security unit, where he remains. The complaint suggests that the conditions of confinement in the maximum security unit are more harsh and/or restrictive than the unit where Plaintiff had been housed.

Plaintiff sues Sheriff Richard Watson, Cpt. Trice, Sgt. Strubberg and Lt. Sutherlin. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages against each Defendant in his or her individual and official capacities.

Based on the allegations in the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into two counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

Count 1: All Defendants subjected Plaintiff to conditions of confinement that amounted to punishment, in violation ...


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