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Jellis v. Shearing

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 8, 2015

JERRY JELLIS, Plaintiff,



Plaintiff Jerry Jellis is currently incarcerated at the Lawrence Correctional Center in Sumner, Illinois, but he was previously incarcerated at the Menard Correctional Center in Menard, Illinois. (Doc. 1 at 1.) Proceeding pro se, Jellis has filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against several prison officials at Menard. ( Id. ) Jellis alleges that numerous officers were involved in an attack against him, that a prison investigator attempted to cover up the attack, that officers wrote a false disciplinary ticket against him concerning the events preceding the attack, that he was not afforded the process due to him related to the ticket and the punishments flowing from it, that grievance officers violated his rights when they failed to process his grievances related to these events, and that medical staff at the prison failed to adequately treat the injuries Jellis incurred due to the attack. ( Id. at 7-16.) Jellis seeks declaratory relief, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. ( Id. at 17.)

This matter is now before the Court for a preliminary review of Jellis's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court shall review a "complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a government entity." During this preliminary review under § 1915A, the court "shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, " if the complaint "is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted" or if it "seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief."


According to the complaint and the exhibits attached to it, on August 27, 2013, Jellis was sitting at a table in the prison cafeteria at Menard when "the gun tower in the chow hall... shot the gun off." (Doc. 1-2 at 2.) Jellis remained seated at his table as several officers and Warden Harrington entered the cafeteria; the Warden and the officers directed the inmates to get on the ground. ( Id. at 2-4.) Jellis says he abided by the order, but did not do so quickly enough-Jellis saw Harrington say something to Tourville, prompting Tourville to order two guards to take Jellis to segregation for disrespecting Harrington. (Doc. 1 at 7; Doc. 1-2 at 3.) The other officers-Hale and Lindenberg-handcuffed Jellis and took him to segregation. (Doc. 1 at 8-9.) As they walked Jellis to the segregation unit, Hale and Lindenberg asked Jellis if he liked "to disrespect the Warden, " and when Jellis asked how he disrespected Harrington, Hale hit Jellis on the back of the neck with his fist and told him to "shut the fuck up." ( Id. ) Both officers then told Jellis that they were going to teach Jellis "not to be disrespectful to the Warden." ( Id. )

Jellis was taken to a holding cage near the N-2 segregation unit visiting room. ( Id. ) There, Hale allegedly put Jellis in a head lock and rammed his head into the cage. ( Id. ) Hale then stood on one side of Jellis with Lindenberg on the other and both took turns striking Jellis: Hale punched Jellis four times and kicked him in the left knee, while Lindenberg punched Jellis three times and then kicked him in the stomach. ( Id. ) The two then unlocked the first holding cage and threw Jellis face down onto the floor of the cage. ( Id. ) Lindenberg lifted up Jellis's arms and put his knee into Jellis's lower back with all of his weight, telling Jellis that he would now "think twice" about "disrespecting" Warden Harrington. ( Id. ) Lindenberg then started to take the handcuffs off of Jellis, but Hale told him to wait. ( Id. ) Hale then lifted Jellis's left arm into the air and then stomped hard onto his lower back. ( Id. ) As Hale kicked Jellis, he allegedly told Jellis not to "ever disrespect the Warden again." ( Id. ) Hale then took the handcuffs off of Jellis, slammed the cage door shut, and told Jellis he could get up. ( Id. )

After the attack ended, Jellis was held in segregation at the prison. ( Id. at 14-16.) During the first week of September 2013, Jellis sent several requests to Lang, a medical technician in the segregation unit, concerning his injuries. ( Id. ) During one visit with Lang, Jellis told her that the officers beat him, that he was concerned about back injuries from the attack, and that he wanted to see a doctor for possible x-rays and diagnosis. ( Id. ) Lang gave Jellis ibuprofen and acetaminophen for the pain and told him that he would need to file a request through sick call to see the doctor. ( Id. ) Lang ran out of the medication three days later and put in more call slips in mid-September. ( Id. ) Lang saw Jellis eight days later, again telling Jellis to put in a request to see a doctor and pay a co-pay. ( Id. ) Jellis agreed to do so and put in another request, but Jellis was not slated to see Dr. Shearing until September 20. ( Id. ) Jellis was still not seen on September 20, and then was moved to Stateville Correctional Center for a court writ from late September to mid-October. ( Id. ) When he returned to Menard on October 9, 2013, Jellis sent more requests to Lang and Shearing asking to be seen, but was allegedly ignored. ( See id. )

Several other events happened after the attack. For one, Jellis wrote a letter about the attack to Larry Beck at the Illinois Department of Corrections. ( Id. at 10-11.) That led Brad Thomas, an "investigator" with "internal affairs" at Menard, to become involved. ( Id. ) Jellis says that Thomas had no interest in uncovering the truth about the attack, but instead desired to "cover the beating up." ( Id. ) Thomas allegedly told Jellis that he was a liar, that officers at Menard do not beat inmates, and that Jellis needed to stop lying or Thomas would make sure he stayed in segregation for a long time. ( Id. ) Thomas asked Jellis about his witnesses and Jellis conceded he had none, but Jellis asked for a lie detector-a request that Thomas rebuffed. ( Id. ) Thomas also called Harrington, and Harrington admitted that he had Jellis "walked" to segregation for "disrespecting him." ( Id. ) Thomas relayed that discussion to Jellis, telling Jellis that he was "lucky"-that if Thomas was in the tower that day, he would have shot Jellis. ( Id. ) Jellis also claims that Thomas added material to the final report after Jellis signed it. ( Id. )

In addition, following the attack, Jellis was written up on a disciplinary ticket by Officer Davis for refusing the officers' order to sit on the ground in the cafeteria on August 27, 2013. ( Id. at 11-12.) The ticket led to discipline imposed by Harrington, Veath, and Hart; Jellis was punished with three months of segregation, three months in "C grade, " three months of yard restriction, and three months in commissary denial. ( Id. ) Jellis says the ticket was false-Davis was not present that day-and that the punishment was imposed without a fair hearing and without a final report. ( Id. ) Jellis also claims that the hearing was unfair because Veath could not be impartial, as Jellis had a pending lawsuit against Veath in federal court. ( Id. )

Throughout October 2013, Jellis wrote grievances concerning the attack to several officials at Menard, but those were allegedly ignored. ( Id. at 12-13.) Sometime on or before October 2014, Jellis was transferred from Menard to Lawrence, where he says he was able to get medical attention for his injuries. ( Id. at 16.) He filed additional grievances with the Illinois Department of Corrections after his transfer. ( Id. at 6.) Unsatisfied with the Department's response to all of his grievances, Jellis filed a complaint in this Court on June 8, 2015. ( Id. at 1.)


Jellis divides his complaint into nine claims linked to the attack, but some of the labels for those counts could be read to narrowly construe his claims. Because the Court has a duty to interpret a pro se complaint broadly, the Court finds it appropriate to re-divide the claims in Jellis's pro se complaint into the following counts, as shown below. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by the Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

COUNT 1: Harrington ordered the attack on Jellis or conspired to facilitate the attack, in violation of Jellis's Eighth Amendment rights.
COUNT 2: Tourville carried out Harrington's orders to attack Jellis or conspired to facilitate the attack, in violation of ...

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