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Roman v. Godinez

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 20, 2015

LUIS ROMAN, No. M12962, Plaintiff,
v.
S.A. GODINEZ, et al. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Luis Roman, an inmate in Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights, based on events that occurred while he was housed at Lawrence Correctional Center in 2014. Supplemental claims based on the Illinois constitution and criminal statutes are also presented in keeping with 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

Roman's second amended complaint (Doc. 18), and 80 pages of supporting documentation), is now before the Court for preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Plaintiff also has filed a motion to "supplement" the second amended complaint to add additional supporting documentation (Doc. 19). The motion (Doc. 19) is GRANTED, and the supplemental documentation will be considered as part of the second amended complaint.

On preliminary review, the Court is required to dismiss any portion of the second 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. 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 Second Amended Complaint

Plaintiff Roman, an inmate housed in the segregation unit at Lawrence Correctional Center, was involved in a verbal and physical altercation with C/O Johnson on October 29, 2014. C/O Johnson was attempting to handcuff Plaintiff through the cell door; in the process, he twisted Plaintiff's arm, and broke his right wrist and two fingers. The assault was reported to C/O Rush and an unidentified nurse, but Plaintiff did not receive medical care. Documentation attached to the complaint indicates that Plaintiff perceives that Rush was retaliating against Plaintiff for filing a grievance the day before ( see Doc. 18, pp. 49, 51).

In an effort to get medical attention, Plaintiff "was forced to take the chuckhole hostage" and covering the cell window with his jumpsuit (Doc. 18, pp. 10, 41). Not only did Plaintiff not receive medical care, C/O Rush issued him disciplinary tickets. As a result, Plaintiff was demoted to C Grade and placed in segregation for an additional three months (Doc. 18, p. 40).

Plaintiff's cell was subsequently searched by C/O Brown and C/O Winka. They confiscated two trays - C/O Johnson's name had been written on one tray, and "Ha Ha Bitch I f***ed with your tray" was written on the other (Doc. 18, p. 11). During the search, Plaintiff, who was handcuffed, was pushed as Brown and Winka entered the cell, causing Plaintiff to trip over the bunk and bump his head on the toilet, resulting in Plaintiff coming into contact with urine and feces. Plaintiff reported this incident and, consequently, he received a false disciplinary ticket from Internal Affairs officer C/O Molenhour (Doc. 18, pp. 37-39; see also p. 63). At his disciplinary hearing, Plaintiff contended that the disciplinary report was issued in retaliation for having lodged complaints against correctional officers (Doc. 18, p. 34). He also asserts that Molenhour was attempting to protect his colleagues and high school friends ( see Doc. 18, p. 53). Plaintiff was convicted of the offense, demoted to C Grade, placed in segregation for a year, and he lost one year of good time credit (Doc. 18, pp. 35-36).

C/O Perkins also issued Plaintiff a fabricated disciplinary ticket for "trading and trafficking, " in retaliation for Plaintiff reporting him to internal affairs (Doc. 18, pp. 33, 55). Perkins purportedly explained to Plaintiff that because he, Perkins, was part of the Emergency Extraction Team, he would not be disciplined. Perkins also offered a veiled threat about how he would be feeding Plaintiff that evening. Ultimately, Plaintiff was again demoted to C Grade and placed in segregation for 1 month ( see Doc. 18, p. 31).

The harassment and retaliation continued when C/O Weavier stated that he had a "surprise" for Plaintiff. A half hour later, Weavier, along with Lt. Ray, C/O Downie, C/O Ochs, Lt. McCarthy, C/O Brooks, an unidentified "B of I Sgt, " and other unidentified guards, assaulted Plaintiff ( see Doc. 18, p. 62). Plaintiff was afraid to report this third assault to Lt. Molenhour - presumably due to fear of additional retaliation.

Plaintiff brings suit against 20 named defendants. He seeks nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages. In addition, he wants his prison disciplinary record expunged and lost good time credits restored.

Discussion

"[Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 8(a) requires parties to make their pleadings straightforward, so that judges and adverse parties need not try to fish a gold coin from a bucket of mud." United States ex rel. Garst v. Lockheed-Martin Corp., 328 F.3d 374, 378 (7th Cir. 2003). The second amended complaint represents an improvement over the original complaint - the statement of facts (summarized above) is relatively clear and easily understood. Nevertheless, many of the claims asserted involve individuals and events not discussed in the statement of facts, or require multiple cross-references to alternate narratives contained in grievances, letters, reports and other documents. ( Compare, e.g., Doc. 1, pp. 7-9, with Doc. 1, pp. 10-12). Although pro se pleadings are construed liberally, the Court (and the defendants) cannot be left to guess what claims Plaintiff intended to assert against which defendants, or to fashion a factual and legal thread to tie the claims together. Consequently, the second amended complaint (Doc. 18) will be dismissed without prejudice.

If Plaintiff elects to file an amended Section 1983 complaint, he should keep in mind that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief...." As emphasized by the Supreme Court, a complaint must 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). As a practical matter, that means setting forth in a ...


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