United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.
Plaintiff Robert Gilbert, a prisoner who is currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center ("Pontiac"), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1). In the complaint, Plaintiff claims that he was wrongfully transferred to Lawrence Correctional Center ("Lawrence"), where he had known enemies. When he complained by filing grievances and a lawsuit, Lawrence officials retaliated against him by assaulting him, issuing him a false disciplinary ticket, and placing him in segregation. Plaintiff now sues twenty-four officials for depriving him of his rights under the First, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. He seeks monetary damages, release from prison, release from segregation, a prison transfer, enrollment in auto body and barbering courses, corrective spinal surgery, a pair of white Air Jordan shoes, a pair of Koss CL 20 headphones, a Walkman, and the right to order cassette tapes (Doc. 1, p. 17). Plaintiff has also filed two related motions for emergency injunctive relief (Docs. 2, 7).
Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
The 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. Although some of Plaintiff's claims are subject to dismissal, the complaint survives preliminary review under Section 1915A.
According to the complaint, Plaintiff was wrongfully transferred to Lawrence Correctional Center ("Lawrence") after notifying several Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") officials that he had known enemies there (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 7). These IDOC officials included Defendants Patterson, Funk, and Stevenson.
After his transfer, Plaintiff was subjected to the following retaliatory acts, among others that are discussed in more detail below: (1) Defendant Dallas placed him in an "ice cold" cell in the health care unit for a month because Plaintiff is litigious (Doc. 1, p. 7); (2) Defendant Molenhour did not allow Plaintiff into the prison's school (Doc. 1, p. 7); and (3) Plaintiff was placed near Defendant Berry, who was known to target litigious inmates for assaults and false disciplinary tickets (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8).
Plaintiff notified Defendants Hodge, Lovell, Molenhour, and Jane/John Does ##1 and 2 that he was in imminent danger (Doc. 1, p. 7). He requested an investigation of his enemies. Defendant Berry was allegedly assigned to the investigation.
On January 12, 2015, Defendant Berry approached Plaintiff, saying, "You are the law suit guy everyone is talking about" (Doc. 1, p. 8). When Plaintiff asked to speak with a lieutenant, Defendant Berry placed Plaintiff in handcuffs so tightly that it caused permanent nerve damage in his left hand, as well as deep cuts and gashes. Defendant Berry then took Plaintiff to the shower. Once there, he "grabbed" Plaintiff. When Plaintiff pulled away, Defendant Berry called a false "Code 1" for a staff assault.
Defendants Dallas, Freeman, and Stiebler responded. These defendants allegedly "gave Plaintiff to officers [John Does ##3, 4, 5, and 6, ] stating hes a suer (sic)" (Doc. 1, p. 8). Defendants John Does ##3, 4, 5, and 6 grabbed Plaintiff by his hands and feet to carry him to segregation. As they carried him, Defendant John Doe #3 "kneed [Plaintiff] in the face approximately eight times." Defendants John Does ##4, 5, 6, and 7 threw Plaintiff down onto his back (Doc. 1, p. 8). They neglected to remove his handcuffs for nearly twenty minutes after he arrived in segregation. As a result of this incident, Plaintiff suffered from excessive facial swelling, loose teeth, a black eye, dizziness, blurred vision, migraines, nerve damage in his left hand, cuts to both wrists, and a broken vertebra (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9).
Plaintiff was issued a false disciplinary ticket for a staff assault based on an incident report that Defendant Berry wrote, after Plaintiff reported him for assault (Doc. 1, p. 8). Defendants Molenhour, Wheeler, and/or Freeman failed to properly investigate the matter and obtained a coerced statement from Plaintiff, after withholding medical treatment for his injuries until they were "satisfied with what they want[ed] to hear" (Doc. 1, p. 9). Even after obtaining a coerced statement from him, they denied him medical care. Plaintiff had to direct his request for treatment to another officer.
Defendants Cooper and Wheeler found Plaintiff guilty of the staff assault, following an unfair disciplinary hearing. Prior to the hearing, Defendant Cooper approached Plaintiff in his cell and said, "I don't like inmates who assault my co-workers[, ] so Im (sic) going to nail you on that staff assault ticket" (Doc. 1, p. 9). Defendant Cooper then issued him a separate disciplinary ticket for an undisclosed rule violation and failed to provide Plaintiff with proper notice of the staff assault ticket. Defendants Wheeler and Cooper denied Plaintiff's request to cross-examine his accusers (i.e., Defendants Berry and Neumuller). Plaintiff was found guilty of the rule violation based on his coerced statement and the statement of Defendant Neumuller (Doc. 1, p. 9). He was sentenced to the maximum term in segregation as punishment (Doc. 1). The complaint does not describe the conditions Plaintiff faced in segregation.
However, Plaintiff does allege that Defendants Moore and Duncan have a custom, policy, or practice of allowing low ranking officers to escort inmates to segregation. This allegedly results in torture. The only concrete example provided in support of this allegation is that Defendants John Does ##3 and 4 have a practice of exerting pressure on an inmate's head as he walks to segregation, causing him to suffer weakness in his legs and faint.
Finally, Plaintiff names Defendant Baylor and the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 ("AFSCME Council 31") for violating Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights because they know that certain policies and practices at Lawrence cause physical harm to inmates (Doc. 1, p. 9).
A. Summary of Claims
The pro se complaint lists seventeen counts against twenty-four defendants. Many of these counts include multiple claims that are not easily addressed together, while other counts can be consolidated for purposes of this discussion. Therefore, the Court finds it convenient to organize the discussion of the complaint into twelve counts, which are generally consistent with Plaintiff's designation of these claims in the complaint. 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: Defendants Patterson, Funk, and Stevenson failed to protect Plaintiff from known enemies when they transferred him to Lawrence, in violation of the Eighth Amendment (Doc. 1, p. 10; see Counts 1 and 2 in the complaint);
COUNT 2: Defendants Hodge, Lovell, Molenhour, and Jane/John Does ##1 and 2 failed to protect Plaintiff from harm when they assigned Defendant Berry the task of investigating Plaintiff's complaints of imminent danger posed by known enemies, in violation of the Eighth Amendment (Doc. 1, pp. 10-11; see Count 3 in the complaint);
COUNT 3: Defendant Molenhour retaliated against Plaintiff by denying his request to attend school, in violation of the First Amendment (Doc. 1, p. 7);
COUNT 4: Defendant Dallas retaliated against Plaintiff for filing lawsuits by placing him in an "ice cold" cell for a month after saying "we have something for suers, " in violation of the First and Eighth Amendments (Doc. 1, pp. 11, 13; see Counts 4 and 9 in the complaint);
COUNT 5: In retaliation for being litigious, Plaintiff was placed in a cell near Defendant Berry, an officer who is known to target such inmates for retaliation, in violation of the First Amendment (Doc. 1, p. 7);
COUNT 6: Defendant Berry retaliated against Plaintiff for being litigious by handcuffing him too tightly, grabbing him, calling a false "Code 1, " and preparing a false incident report in support of a disciplinary ticket for staff assault, in violation of the First and Eighth Amendments (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9, 11, 14; see Counts 5 and 11 in the complaint);
COUNT 7: Defendants Stiebler, Dallas, and Freeman retaliated against Plaintiff and failed to protect him when they responded to the "Code 1" by handing him over to prison officials who assaulted Plaintiff, in violation of the First and Eighth Amendments (Doc. 1, p. 12; see Count 6 in the complaint);
COUNT 8: Defendants John Does ##3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 used excessive force against Plaintiff or failed to protect him, by kneeing him in the face eight times, holding his head down in a manner that caused muscle weakness and/or fainting, dragging him on his knees, throwing him onto his back, and failing to remove his handcuffs in the process of transporting him to segregation, in violation of the Eighth Amendment (Doc. 1, p. 12; see Count 7 in the complaint);
COUNT 9: Defendants Moore and Duncan have a custom, policy, or practice of allowing low ranking officers to walk inmates to segregation (Doc. 1, ...