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Hoskins v. Bowles

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 13, 2015

ROBERT HOSKINS, #B-02683, Plaintiff,
v.
DUSTIN BOWLES, MAJOR ADAMS, G. JAMES, SCOTT A. HILL, MARK L. HARTMAN, and BART A. LIND, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

STACI M. YANDLE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Robert Hoskins, a prisoner who is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his constitutional rights at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"). In the complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff claims that Pinckneyville officials used excessive force against him and denied him medical treatment on June 19, 2014 (Doc. 1, p. 4). When Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance to report the staff misconduct, Pinckneyville officials conspired to retaliate against Plaintiff by issuing him four false disciplinary tickets that resulted in his transfer to Menard, his placement in segregation, and his loss of good conduct credit, among other things (Doc. 1, pp. 4-6). Plaintiff now sues six Pinckneyville officials, including G. James (correctional officer), Dustin Bowles (correctional officer), Scott Hill (correctional officer), Mark Hartman (correctional officer), Bart Lind (correctional officer), and Major Adams (shift supervisor), for violating his rights under the First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments and Illinois state law. He seeks monetary damages (Doc. 1, p. 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. The complaint survives preliminary review under Section 1915A.

The Complaint

According to the complaint, Plaintiff was involved in a fight at Pinckneyville on June 19, 2014 (Doc. 1, p. 4). Officer James handcuffed Plaintiff and escorted him to the health care unit, where he refused medical treatment. While escorting Plaintiff from the health care unit to segregation, Major Adams stopped Plaintiff and asked, "[W]hats (sic) his f*cking problem and what gang is he with?" (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff did not respond. Major Adams and Officer James then beat Plaintiff in the head and body with their fists, until he fell to the ground. Major Adams instructed Officer James to "get this little b*tch out of my face before I kill him'" (Doc. 1, p. 4). Officer James informed Plaintiff that he was being placed under investigation and threatened to "make sure he pa[id] in a bad way, " if Plaintiff disclosed any details about the incident.

The following day, Plaintiff filed an emergency grievance regarding the use of excessive force and the subsequent denial of medical care. Officer Hartman reported to Plaintiff's cell and confirmed his receipt of the grievance. But he warned Plaintiff not to file any more grievances against Pinckneyville staff.

Officer Bowles also went to Plaintiff's cell later the same day. He told Plaintiff that the grievance was a "game changer" (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). He assured Plaintiff that it would make his life worse. Officer Bowles then issued Plaintiff a false disciplinary ticket in retaliation for filing the emergency grievance.

On June 23, 2014, Officer Hill approached Plaintiff's cell door. He asked, "[W]hat's up with this grievance I'm hearing about [that] you wrote?" (Doc. 1, p. 5). When Plaintiff did not answer, Officer Hill issued him a second false disciplinary ticket in retaliation for filing the emergency grievance. Officers Bowles and Lind then falsified several additional disciplinary reports that included major charges, in an effort to have Plaintiff transferred from Pinckneyville to Menard. He was, in fact, transferred on June 23, 2014.

On July 9, 2014, Plaintiff received four adjustment committee hearing summaries, which were allegedly prepared by Officers Bowles and Lind. The summaries incorrectly indicated that Plaintiff attended a disciplinary hearing at Pinckneyville on June 23, 2014, the day he transferred to Menard. He did not. Plaintiff received the following punishment on the false disciplinary charges: placement in segregation (a total of twenty-three months); loss of good conduct credits (a total of eighteen months); demotion to C-grade status (a total of twenty-three months); no contact visits (a total of six months); and a security classification upgrade (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6).

He now sues Major Adams and Officer James for the unlawful use of excessive force and denial of medical treatment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and the denial of due process and equal protection of the law, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (Doc. 1, p. 6). He sues Officers Bowles, Lind, Hill, and Hartman for conspiracy, retaliation, denial of due process, and denial of equal protection under the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments; he also sues them for malicious prosecution (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

Discussion

A. Summary of Claims

The Court finds it convenient to organize the discussion of the complaint into seven (7) 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: Defendants James and Adams used excessive force against Plaintiff on June 19, 2014, in violation of the Eighth Amendment (Doc. 1, p. 7);
COUNT 2: Defendants James and Adams denied Plaintiff medical care for the injuries they inflicted on June 19, 2014, in violation of the Eighth Amendment (Doc. 1, p. 7);
COUNT 3: Defendants James, Adams, Bowles, Hill, Hartman and Lind denied Plaintiff due process of the law by issuing him four false disciplinary tickets, finding him guilty in absentia, and punishing him for the rule violations with segregation and revocation of good conduct credit, among other things, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7);
COUNT 4: Defendants James, Adams, Bowles, Hill, Hartman and Lind deprived Plaintiff of equal protection of the law in connection with the June 2014 disciplinary actions taken against him, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7);
COUNT 5: Defendants Bowles, Hill, Hartman and Lind conspired to deprive Plaintiff of his constitutional rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7);
COUNT 6: Defendants Bowles, Hill, Hartman and Lind retaliated against Plaintiff for grieving staff misconduct, by issuing him four false disciplinary tickets, finding him guilty in absentia, and punishing him for the rule violations (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7);
COUNT 7: Defendants Bowles, Hill, Hartman and Lind maliciously prosecuted Plaintiff, in violation of Illinois state law (Doc. 1, p. 7).

The designation of these claims into separate counts should not be construed as an ...


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