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Gully v. Watson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 28, 2015

RONNIE GULLY, JR., Plaintiff,


MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff Ronnie Gully, Jr., is a detainee[1] currently housed in the St. Clair County Jail. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights with respect to several incidents involving his physical safety and medical care.

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

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 "complaint" is a multipart document including a "Statement of Claims" (Doc. 1-3, pp. 9-10), and a separate compendium for each of the two enumerated claims, each containing a list of the defendants Plaintiff associates with each claim, a memorandum of law, documentary exhibits and a witness list.[2] Each claim will be laid out in turn, but the Court will designate the claims as "counts."

Count 1

According to the complaint (Doc. 1-3, p. 9), in March 2014 a nurse, accompanied by a guard, delivered medication to Plaintiff. After Plaintiff took the medicine, the guard, C/O Anthony Lefloore, physically assaulted Plaintiff without provocation, hitting him in the face and head. Officers Shane Collins and John Miller arrived and Collins joined Lefloore in beating Plaintiff. Lefloore also struck Plaintiff's head with a flashlight. Plaintiff, his head bleeding, was then handcuffed and beaten some more by the guards. Lefloore, Collins and Miller later escorted Plaintiff to the healthcare unit for treatment.

Plaintiff was later returned to his cell-by whom is unknown. He was placed on suicide watch, although he was not suicidal. As a result, Plaintiff's property was removed from his cell and he was left to sleep without a mattress, wearing only a "suicide gown." After 30 or 40 minutes, Plaintiff was found lying unconscious on the floor in a pool of urine and saliva.

Listed as defendants to Count 1 are: Jail Assistant Superintendent/Captain Thomas Trice; Sheriff Richard Watson, who is described as the "owner" of the Jail; Jail Superintendent Phillip McLaurin; C/O Shane Collins; C/O Anthony Lefloore; C/O John Miller; and Shift Superintendent Karl Pannier.

Plaintiff requests injunctive relief (the installation of video cameras), as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

The Court summarizes these allegations in the following overarching claim:

Count 1: Defendants Trice, Watson, McLaurin, Collins, Lefloore, Miller and Pannier submitted Plaintiff to excessive force and harsh conditions of confinement, all in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Count 2

In August 2014, Plaintiff was in a dispute with another detainee, Dominic Hood, who threatened to throw urine on him. Plaintiff told C/O Terry Owens about the threat, but Owens still granted Hood's subsequent request to go to the recreation area, which would entail passing by Plaintiff. Hood was handcuffed, but allowed to carry a cup filled with Magic Shave, powdered bleach, urine and a cleaning solution. As Hood passed Plaintiff, he threw the concoction in Plaintiff's face. Plaintiff screamed as the mixture burned his eyes and skin.

Captain Thomas Trice, Supervisor Nancy Sutherlin and Sergeant Steven Strubberg all arrived on the scene. Plaintiff asked to see a nurse, but was sent back to his cell. Plaintiff developed a rash on his face and neck. Adding insult to injury, guards laughed and mocked him.

Named as defendants to Count 2 are: Sheriff and "owner" of the Jail, Richard Watson; Jail Superintendent Phillip McLauren; Assistant Superintendent/Captain Thomas Trice; Supervisor Nancy Sutherlin; C/O Timothy Owens; and Sergeant Steven Strubberg. Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment; injunctive relief (installation of cameras, and ...

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