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Johnson v. Collman

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 23, 2015




Plaintiff Lennil Johnson, a pre-trial detainee incarcerated at the Madison County Jail, brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Johnson claims that Defendants, who are all employees or contractors of the Madison County Jail, failed to provide him with proper medical care, retaliated against him for seeking medical care, and failed to provide him with access to courts, all in violation of his constitutional rights. He seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief, and he has also filed a motion seeking emergency injunctive relief.

This matter is now before the Court for a preliminary review of Johnson's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court shall review a "complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a government entity." During this preliminary review, the court "shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, " if the complaint "is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted" or if it "seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief."

The Complaint

Johnson alleges that he was placed in the Madison County Jail on January 31, 2015, and that he remains there today. (Doc. 3 at 8.) On his first day of incarceration, Johnson claims he informed Deputy Matt Miller that he had sustained "serious medical injuries in relation to multiple dog bites and open flesh wounds." ( Id. ) Miller reported these injuries to medical staff at the jail, but instead of placing Johnson in an infirmary for observation, Johnson alleges that he was immediately placed in the jail's housing unit. ( Id. at 8-9.) Two days later, on February 2, 2015, Johnson was seen by Dr. Blankenship in the jail's infirmary. ( Id. at 9.) Dr. Blankenship reviewed Johnson's emergency room records and provided him with lower dosages of the pain and antibiotic medications recommended by the emergency room physicians. ( Id. at 9-10.)

From February 2 through February 6, 2015, Johnson claims that several different officers at the jail dispensed medication to him and that this conduct itself was deliberately indifferent, as health care workers - instead of non-medical jail officers - should be handing out medication. ( Id. at 12-14.) He also claims that, during this time period, Dr. Blankenship, Dover, Ryan, Collman, and Walker provided him with a "psychotropic, mood altering medication, " and did not provide pain relievers or antibiotics or otherwise treat the injuries related to his wounds. ( Id. ) On February 6, 2015, Johnson complained to Lakin, Bost, and Dr. Blankenship in writing and verbally concerning his lack of antibiotics, but he was not provided with those medications. ( Id. at 14.) That same day, Johnson claims that he was "terminated" from receiving "medications initially prescribed by" Dr. Blankenship. ( Id. at 15.) That termination continues today. ( Id. )

On March 12, 2015, Johnson claims that Spurdon attempted to hand out medications to the individuals in Johnson's cell area. ( Id. at 16.) Johnson alleges that Spurdon refused to provide him with a multivitamin that Johnson requested, and otherwise refused to provide him with his prescription medication. ( See id. ) On the same day, Johnson and Spurdon had a verbal altercation, and Spurdon allegedly slammed the housing unit door in Johnson's face. ( Id. ) Johnson claims that Spurdon engaged in this behavior to retaliate against him for attempting to obtain his prescription medications. ( Id. ) Johnson does not allege that he was injured during this altercation, but claims he is fearful of Spurdon due to Spurdon's conduct. ( Id. at 17.)

Johnson also alleges that, from January 31 to the day of his complaint, he was denied access to state and federal courts, and was otherwise deprived of "legal materials, [a] law library, law books, supplies, ink pens, paper, [a] notary public, update[d] legal books, legal envelopes, legal photocopies, " and legal postage stamps. ( Id. ) He claims that Lakin and Bost also have failed to provide access to courts and failed to provide access to a grievance procedure to detainees. ( Id. at 18-20.) Johnson seeks damages and declaratory relief in his complaint; he also filed a separate motion for emergency injunctive relief on March 18, 2015, and an amended motion for emergency injunctive relief on March 23, 2015. ( Id. at 23-25; Doc. 1; Doc. 6.)


The Court begins with an administrative matter related to Johnson's initial motion for emergency injunctive relief. (Doc. 1.) Johnson filed his complaint and the separate motion on the same day, but sent them in different envelopes. The complaint names Johnson as the sole plaintiff and was signed by him alone. The motion similarly names Johnson as the sole plaintiff in the caption and provides specifics only on Johnson's events at the jail, which echo the allegations in his complaint. However, the motion was signed by Johnson and twelve others. The captions on the two filings are identical, so it is unclear as to whether the motion is truly brought jointly by multiple plaintiffs. But to the extent the group of signatories intended to bring the motion together, merely signing the accompanying filing is an insufficient method of bringing a multi-plaintiff action for at least two reasons. For one, it violates Rule 10, as the extra prisoners are not named as parties in the caption. See Myles v. United States, 416 F.3d 551, 551-52 (7th Cir. 2005) (for an individual to be properly considered a party under Rule 10 he must be "specif[ied] in the caption"). In addition, it violates Rule 8, as there was no multi-plaintiff complaint paired with the motion, let alone any developed factual allegations concerning the other twelve prisoners' circumstances at the jail, such that a defendant could respond to the allegations. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 n.10 (2007) (holding that conclusory, undeveloped allegations in a complaint are insufficient, as a defendant "seeking to respond... would have little idea where to begin"). Given the similarity between the motion and the complaint, the Court will construe the motion as being raised in the context of Johnson's complaint and by Johnson alone. No other plaintiffs will be considered parties to the case.[1]

Left with Johnson, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se complaint into three 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.

COUNT 1: Fourteenth Amendment claim against Lakin, Bost, Spurdon, Blankenship, Dover, Ryan, Walker, and Collman for deliberate indifference to Johnson's serious medical needs during his pre-trial confinement.
COUNT 2: First Amendment claim against Spurdon for retaliation.
COUNT 3: Fourteenth Amendment claim against Bost and Lakin for denying Johnson access to courts, to legal resources, ...

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