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Weeks v. Eovaldi

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 19, 2015

ROBERT WEEKS, No. N22850, Plaintiff,



Plaintiff Robert Weeks is an inmate currently housed in Pontiac Correctional Center. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights with respect to the conditions of his confinement and treatment while he was housed at Menard Correctional Center in October 2013.

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

According to the complaint, Plaintiff Weeks arrived at Menard in the late afternoon on October 4, 2013. Minutes after his arrival, C/O Slavens escorted Plaintiff to the healthcare unit. Plaintiff was interviewed by a nurse, with Sgt. Frank Eovaldi present. The nurse explained that Planitiff’s psychiatric medications would commence the next day; nevertheless, Plaintiff asked the nurse if he could speak with a mental health professional. The nurse told Plaintiff that he would be seen by a mental health professional the next day. The nurse then left and Sgt. Eovaldi summoned C/O Slavens.

Before C/O Slavens arrived back in the health care unit, Eovaldi told Plaintiff that he was going to make Plaintiff’s time at Menard “miserable as hell.” Eovaldi and Slavens subsequently undressed Plaintiff-at times holding Plaintiff down on the ground by placing a knee on his back as his arms were uncuffed and his jumpsuit was removed. Plaintiff, naked, was then walked back to his cell by Eovaldi, Slaven and C/O Easton. Plaintiff’s cuffed hands were held up high, and Eovaldi told Plaintiff to hold his head down so he would not be recognized. Plaintiff describes feeling dehumanized, humiliated, terrified, embarrassed and degraded, as he walked naked down the cellhouse gallery.

Upon arrival at Plaintiff’s cell, Sgt. Eovaldi ordered C/O Easton to remove the mattress, after which Plaintiff was placed in the cell. Although Plaintiff was not offering any resistance, Eovaldi “aggressively” jerked Plaintiffs arms through the door slot as the cuffs were being removed. Sgt. Eovaldi then stated that Plaintiff was being placed on a “crisis watch, ” which entails noting Plaintiff’s activity every 15 minutes. Plaintiff objected, noting that he had not said he was suicidal. Plaintiff also contends that his cell was not one of the cells specially designated as a crisis watch cell, so Sgt. Eovaldi was violating prison policies and procedures. It is also asserted that Sgt. Eovaldi, Sgt. Heiman, C/O Slavens, C/O Spiller and C/O Easton all knew his cell was not a crisis watch cell, and Heiman, Slavens, Spiller and Easton also knew what Eovaldi was doing, as they had previously aided and abetted Eovaldi in his “evil behavior” toward other prisoners. Plaintiff contends that Sgt. Eovaldi was retaliating against him for asking to see a mental health professional.

On October 6, Plaintiff wrote to various prison officials seeking relief, all to no avail. The next day, Plaintiff spoke to Sgt. Heiman and C/O Spiller, explaining what Sgt. Eovaldi had done, and asked them to check to see if he was actually on crisis watch. They checked and reported that Plaintiff was not on crisis watch. Since he was not on crisis watch, Plaintiff requested a mattress, bedding, underwear, a jumpsuit, shoes, towels and hygiene items. Heiman and Spiller walked away, but they returned later and escorted Plaintiff to the clothing supply room. Plaintiff takes issue with having to walk without shoes.

Plaintiff returned to his cell with the clothing and towels, but C/O Spiller only allowed him to take a jumpsuit and boots inside the cell, hanging the other items in a bag outside the cell. He was also still without a mattress. Later that evening, Plaintiff wrote to Lt. Cartwright, explaining what had happened. The next day, on October 8, had a mattress given to Plaintiff, and allowed Plaintiff to have his bag of clothes and towels.

Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment, compensatory and punitive damages, release from segregation and restoration to A-grade status.

Based on the allegations in the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following 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. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

Count 1: Defendants Eovaldi, Spiller and Easton unnecessarily paraded Plaintiff naked, in violation of the Eighth Amendment;
Count 2: Defendants Eovaldi, Spiller and Easton used excessive force against Plaintiff, in violation of the Eighth Amendment;
Count 3: In retaliation for Plaintiff asking to see mental health staff, Defendant Eovaldi had Plaintiff held under unwarranted “crisis watch” conditions, in violation of the First Amendment, Eighth Amendment, and prison policy and procedures;
Count 4: Defendants Heiman, Slavens, Spiller and Easton all either aided and abetted, or conspired with Defendant Eovaldi relative to ...

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