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Daugherty v. Godinez

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 25, 2015

KENNETH JAMES DAUGHERTY, #N-61174, Plaintiff,
v.
SALVADOR A. GODINEZ, RICHARD HARRINGTON, MARK GRAPPERHOUSE, TRACY HARRINGTON, BESTY SPILLER, LORI OAKLEY, TIMOTHY VEATH, KEVIN PAGE, and ANTHONY WILLS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court for consideration of Plaintiff Kenneth Daugherty's first amended complaint (Doc. 16), which he filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1]In it, Plaintiff claims that prison officials at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard") conspired to retaliate against him for complaining about the conditions of his confinement. Plaintiff now sues the Illinois Department of Corrections' ("IDOC") director and eight Menard officials[2]for depriving him of his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. He seeks monetary damages (Doc. 16, p. 1).

Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

The first amended complaint is subject to review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Under Section 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 amended 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. The first amended complaint survives preliminary review under Section 1915A.

First Amended Complaint

According to the first amended complaint, Plaintiff was subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement at Menard in 2012 (Doc. 16, pp. 1-2, 10-13). While housed in the North-1 Cell House in May 2012, Plaintiff was forced to live with another inmate in a one-person cell.[3] Plaintiff was unable to move around without injury, and the cell lacked sufficient space for exercising during lockdowns. Merely sitting up in bed caused Plaintiff to hit his head (Doc. 16, p. 10). The cells had no furniture, other than beds. The lighting was so dim that it was difficult to read or write (Doc. 16, p. 11). The air vents were perpetually clogged (Doc. 16, pp. 11, 13). The wash basin often reeked of raw sewerage, and cleaning supplies were allegedly denied (Doc. 16, p. 13). In addition, the showers were infested with bugs[4](Doc. 16, p. 11).

When Plaintiff complained about the conditions to other inmates and in grievances, Kevin Page (lieutenant) threatened him with segregation and disciplinary action if he did not stop complaining. When Lieutenant Page next observed Plaintiff writing a grievance on May 5, 2012, he took Plaintiff's prisoner identification card. Plaintiff's card was returned the same day. Plaintiff then filed a grievance complaining about the conditions with Besty Spiller (head counselor), Tracy Harrington (grievance officer and warden's wife), and Lori Oakley (grievance officer) (Doc. 16, p. 3).

On May 16, 2012, Lieutenant Page pulled Plaintiff from the line and took him to see Richard Harrington (warden), who ordered officers to place Plaintiff in segregation (Doc. 16, p. 3). On May 25, 2012, he was taken to an adjustment committee hearing before Timothy Veath (chairman) and Anthony Wills (correctional officer). There, Plaintiff learned for the first time that he had been charged with two rule violations, including dangerous communications and insolence. These charges stemmed from the following comment that Plaintiff made to fellow inmates: "[T]hem b*tch *ss police just be shootin like dat cause they want to shoot n*gg*rs" (Doc. 16, p. 4). Plaintiff admitted that he made the comment.

At the same time, he pleaded "not guilty" to any rule violations (Doc. 16, p. 5). He pointed out to Chairman Veath and Officer Wills that he had not received the ticket before the hearing. Chairman Veath still had all three copies of it. Plaintiff explained that, as a result, he had no opportunity to prepare a defense or call witnesses. He requested a continuance and a lie detector test, but these requests were denied.

Ultimately, Chairman Veath and Officer Wills dropped the charge for dangerous communications but found Plaintiff guilty of insolence. Plaintiff was punished with one month of segregation, demotion to C-grade status, and commissary restriction. The final hearing summary was not signed by Chairman Veath or Officer Wills (Doc. 16, p. 8).

Plaintiff was placed in segregation in North-2 Cell House, where he was again subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement akin to those previously described. Plaintiff was denied access to cold water for thirteen days, from May 16-29, 2012 (Doc. 16, p. 5). He was deprived of his fan for twelve of these days, as temperatures soared above ninety degrees Fahrenheit (Doc. 16, pp. 6, 8).

While in segregation, Plaintiff resubmitted grievances that he had originally written on May 8, 2012. These grievances addressed Menard's "flawed grievance procedure" and staff misconduct. He addressed the grievances to Besty Spiller, Tracy Harrington, and Lori Oakley. He also submitted a grievance complaining that a Freedom of Information Act request had been ignored (Doc. 16, p. 10).

Upon his release from segregation, Warden Harrington and Lieutenant Page allegedly retaliated against Plaintiff by moving him into Menard's West Cell House, which is reserved for highly aggressive inmates (Doc. 16, pp. 6, 14). Plaintiff wrote a letter directly to Salvador Godinez, the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC"), on July 19, 2012 (Doc. 16, p. 7). He complained of a conspiracy by prison officials to harass him and retaliate against him (Doc. 16, pp. 7, 15). Instead of hearing back from Director Godinez, Plaintiff received a response from another IDOC official on July 31, 2012 (Doc. 16, p. 15).

Plaintiff now sues Salvador Godinez, Richard Harrington, Mark Grapperhouse, Tracy Harrington, Besty Spiller, Lori Oakley, Timothy Veath, Anthony Wills, and Kevin Page for retaliation under the First Amendment (Count 1), denial of due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment (Count 3), exposure to unconstitutional conditions of confinement under the Eighth Amendment (Count 5), and common law conspiracy (Count 6).[5] Plaintiff seeks monetary damages (Doc. 16, p. 1).

Discussion

Claims Subject to Further Review

After carefully considering the allegations in the first amended complaint, the Court finds that colorable claims have been articulated against Richard Harrington and Kevin Page, as follows:

Count 1: Richard Harrington and Kevin Page retaliated against Plaintiff for filing grievances and complaining about the conditions of his ...

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