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Reynolds v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 24, 2015




Plaintiff Kenyon Reynolds brings this action against the Federal Bureau of Prisons pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-80. According to his complaint, Plaintiff was viciously attacked and beaten by another inmate at the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois (USP-Marion), on September 4, 2013 (Doc. 1, p. 2). No guards were present at the time. Plaintiff claims that he was targeted because he is a convicted sex offender and that the assault should be considered a "hate crime." He now sues the Federal Bureau of Prisons for failing to protect him from the assault and for failing to provide him with adequate medical care following the assault. He seeks monetary damages and immediate release from prison, among other things.

Plaintiff commenced this action on March 9, 2015 (Doc. 1). The same day, he filed a motion to stay all proceedings (Doc. 2), pending his transfer from USP-Marion in April. The Court granted Plaintiff's request and stayed this matter for sixty days (i.e., until May 11, 2015) (Doc. 5). When his transfer was delayed, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking an extension of the stay (Doc. 6). The Court granted a thirty-day extension (i.e., until June 10, 2015), but indicated that no further requests to stay proceedings would be granted prior to the Court's threshold review of the complaint (Doc. 7). The stay is hereby lifted, and the complaint is now subject to preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

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 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). The complaint does not survive preliminary review under this standard.

The Complaint

Plaintiff alleges that he was viciously attacked by another inmate at USP-Marion on September 4, 2013 (Doc. 1, p. 2). At the time, Plaintiff was taking a break from his job in the prison cafeteria. He sat down to study the Bible. Shortly thereafter, Inmate Delaney "sucker punched" Plaintiff. The blow caused Plaintiff to fall to the floor, hit his head, and lose consciousness. Inmate Delaney "repeatedly kicked" and "severely beat" Plaintiff in the head. Witnesses begged Inmate Delaney to stop beating Plaintiff, but he ignored their pleas (Doc. 1, p. 2). Plaintiff lay bleeding from his eyes, ears, and head.

Plaintiff blames the attack on the negligence and deliberate indifference of numerous prison officials (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). He claims that these officials failed to supervise the area where he was attacked. No guards were physically present. Control officers failed to observe video monitors, and this delayed their response.

By the time prison officials arrived in the cafeteria, they found Plaintiff in serious condition. He was airlifted to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, where he was treated in the intensive care unit. He was diagnosed with injuries that include, but are not limited to, a subarachnoid hemorrhage, multiple facial fractures, difficulty hearing, severe pain, and headaches (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff's left jawbone was surgically reconstructed using a metal plate. He now suffers from permanent injuries that include frequent headaches, extreme vertigo, and mental anguish (Doc. 1, p. 6).

Plaintiff asks the Court to treat his attack as a hate crime. According to the complaint, prison officials at USP-Marion have created a divisive atmosphere between sex offenders and their "haters." At least one prison official has been fired for making derogatory comments about "Cho Mos, " a term used to refer to child molesters. During Plaintiff's attack, numerous witnesses overheard prison officials say, "Too bad we didn't wait longer as the Cho Mo' would have died" (Doc. 1, p. 4). His attacker, Inmate Delaney, was also overheard stating that he would "go all out" if he ever assaulted a sex offender because it would likely be considered a hate crime that would result in an increased prison sentence.

Plaintiff sues the Bureau of Prisons under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-80. He maintains that USP-Marion officials were negligent and deliberately indifferent when they failed to protect him from the assault and failed to secure adequate medical care for him. He seeks monetary damages, a compassionate release from prison, and a medical benefits and injury pension (Doc. 1, p. 6).

The pro se complaint asserts a single claim, as follows:

Count 1: Defendant, by and through the negligence or deliberate indifference of USP-Marion officials, is liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for Plaintiff's assault on September 4, 2013, and his resulting injuries.

The parties and the Court will use this designation in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation ...

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