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Castro v. USA

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 5, 2015

ANTHONY CASTRO, No. 02614-029, Plaintiff,
USA, et al. Defendants.


STACI M. YANDLE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Anthony Castro, an inmate in the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York, brings this action for various incidents that occurred while he was housed at the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, which is within this judicial district.

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

As a preliminary matter, the Court grants Plaintiff's motion to correct the typographical error on page 2 of the complaint, where Defendant C/O Humphrey is incorrectly referred to as "Murphrey" (Doc. 6).

According to the complaint, on April 26, 2014, Plaintiff, who is handicapped and uses a wheelchair and walker, was "brutally assaulted" by another inmate without any provocation. Plaintiff fell to the ground and could not defend himself. By coincidence, a correctional officer from another unit interrupted the attack, which was lucky for Plaintiff, because his assailant had a "shank." Plaintiff attributes the attack to the fact that the unit officer, C/O Humphrey, was not in the unit. The failure to protect Plaintiff from harm is also characterized as "cruel and unusual punishment."

Brooks, the officer who stopped the assault, called for assistance, but "in the heat of the moment, " Brooks summoned help to the wrong unit. Brooks corrected his mistake and "within seconds" officers arrived. Plaintiff was then taken to the medical unit. Nurses cleaned blood from Plaintiff's head, eyes, neck and torso, but offered no other care. The nature of Plaintiff's injuries is not disclosed in the complaint, but an attached exhibit indicates that Plaintiff had cuts, bruises and abrasions and his eye was swollen ( see doc. 1-1, p. 4). Plaintiff claims "there was negligence by health services."

Lt. Butler and Lt. Malcomb took pictures of Plaintiff and then took him to the SHU- segregation. While in the SHU, Plaintiff was deprived of his wheelchair and walker, so he could not go to the showers or go outside for recreation. The SHU is also not handicapped accessible. In addition, when SHU officers transported Plaintiff, they pushed his wheelchair too fast- "play[ing] race car driver." The officers also rolled over "potholes" and cracks on purpose, exacerbating Plaintiff's back pain.

Named as defendants are: the USA, C/O Humphrey; Warden J.S. Walton; Health Services Administrator Winklemeier; Nurse Patrick Trovillion; Nurse Richardson; Counselor Eric Edmister; Physician's Assistant Leslee D. Brooks; C/O Tolbert; C/O Walters; C/O Mowery; C/O Lenon; C/O Quartmous; C/O Hampton; C/O Cook; C/O Hicks; and C/O Morris. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

The complaint does not specify whether Plaintiff is asserting constitutional claims pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), or negligence claims pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-2680, or claims under the American with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 12101 et seq. Because Plaintiff is pro se, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 only requires "notice" pleading, the Court must surmise what claims Plaintiff is attempting to pursue.

Based on the allegations in the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following 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: C/O Humphrey, in his individual capacity and acting with deliberate indifference, failed to protect Plaintiff from assault, in ...

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