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Rayford v. C/O Childers

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 11, 2014

JAMIL M. RAYFORD, No. R66299, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Jamil M. Rayford, an inmate in Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on a series of assaults and retaliatory actions that began when he was assaulted by a Lawrence Correctional Center officer at a transfer stop, and continued after he was subsequently transferred to Lawrence.

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, on September 3, 2014, Plaintiff was at a transfer stop at Lincoln Correctional Center when C/O Childers, who works out of Lawrence Correctional Center, assaulted Plaintiff, purportedly using excessive force when he placed Plaintiff in a chokehold and threw him to the ground for apparently no better reason than Childers was "having a bad day." Childers then issued Plaintiff a disciplinary ticket for assault, when it was Childers who had assaulted Plaintiff. During a September 9, 2014, disciplinary hearing, Plaintiff pleaded not guilty and explained that Childers was the aggressor. The Adjustment Committee believed Childer's version of events, found Plaintiff guilty, and punished with, among other things, a disciplinary transfer ( see Doc. 1-1, p. 20).

Plaintiff was subsequently transferred to Lawrence Correctional Center. Upon his arrival on September 17, 2014, he was called numerous racial epithets, and eight correctional officers took him into a hallway where there were no surveillance cameras and beat and kicked him. Plaintiff was then moved to the shower area, where he was again assaulted. Plaintiff, who was injured and in extreme pain, was denied medical care by the eight officers. The officers are identified as: C/O Dean; C/O Hudley; C/O C. Cale; C/O Winka; C/O Selby; C/O Brant; C/O Adams; and Sgt. Kidwell.

Plaintiff reported the September 17 beatings, only to be subjected to additional retaliation. Meals were withheld, and Plaintiff's mail (including grievances) was intercepted. More specifically, C/O Johnson (the shorter of two officers named Johnson) and other unspecified officers, including C/O Adamson, did not feed Plaintiff during a six-day period (how many meals were missed is unclear). Plaintiff was told that he was being retaliated against because he had assaulted C/O Childers, and because he had been trying to report the September 17 assault. Johnson called Plaintiff racial epithets and threatened that as long as Plaintiff filed grievances he would not be fed. C/O Winka, C/O Adamson and C/O Selby further threatened that, if Plaintiff continued to try to report the September 17 incident to the State Police, he would be beaten more severely than before.

Plaintiff spoke to Lt. Dallas about the disciplinary issue. Dallas's comment that Plaintiff had been "f____'d over" suggested to Plaintiff that Dallas knew that Plaintiff had not assaulted C/O Childers. Dallas also acknowledged that none of Plaintiff's grievances regarding the September 17 assault would proceed because officers would intercept them. C/O Ray, Plaintiff's counselor, would not accept his grievances and even offered to expedite a transfer if Plaintiff would stop filing grievances.

Plaintiff, who is black, observes that those who beat him and used racial slurs against him-Childers, Dean, Hudley, Cale, Kidwell, Brant, ...

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