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Dow v. Benton

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 29, 2015

ARTIS DOW, # R00705, Plaintiff,


STACI M. YANDLE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Artis Dow, currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), brings this pro se civil rights action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

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.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

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

The following facts are relevant to the Court's threshold review: On April 13, 2014, Plaintiff, who was seated eating dinner in the dining hall at Pinckneyville, was assaulted by another inmate, identified as Owens. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Owens came up behind Plaintiff, and hit Plaintiff with a closed fist in the facial area. Id. at 5.

Moments before this incident, a fight broke out just outside the dining hall between two inmates: one identified as a member of the Gangster Disciple organization and the other a member of the Black P. Stones organization. Id. at 3. Plaintiff alleges that in retaliation, inmate Owens, a Gangster Disciple, led other Gangster Disciples in an assault on members of the Black P. Stones. Id. at 4. A brawl ensued involving several inmates from both organizations. Guards ordered the inmates to cease fighting, but the altercation continued until pepper spray was used to regain order. Id. at 5. The incident inside the dining hall, which led to a lockdown at Pinckneyville, was captured on a surveillance camera.

Following the incident, Defendant Furlow, an officer with internal affairs, interviewed Plaintiff. Plaintiff admitted that he was affiliated with the Stones, but denied any involvement in the fight. Id. at 6-7. At that time, Plaintiff and Furlow viewed the surveillance tape together. Plaintiff maintains that the tape shows he did not fight back or join in any assault. Id. Nonetheless, Furlow wrote a disciplinary report against Plaintiff, which charged that Plaintiff had committed the following offenses in violation of IDOC regulations: dangerous disturbances (504.105); gang or unauthorized organizational activity (504.205); fighting (504.301); and disobeying a direct order (504.403). Id. at 22.

On April 17, 2014, Plaintiff appeared before Defendants Jeffrey Hoch and Marcus Myers, member of the adjustment committee. Id. A summary report from the proceedings indicates that Plaintiff pled not guilty to the charges and stated, "I am a Stone. I didn't swing back." Id. Plaintiff maintains that during the hearing he requested that he be given an opportunity to call witnesses. Id. He also claims that he asked Defendants Hoch and Myers to review the surveillance video before making their determination. Id. While Plaintiff was present, Hoch and Myers did not review the video. Instead, "on the spot" they found Plaintiff guilty of each of the charged offenses. Id. at 9 and 22. The written report from the adjustment committee ...

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