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Rankin v. Wanack

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 15, 2015

ANDRE RANKIN, # N12514, Plaintiff,
v.
DONALD J. WANACK, VIPIN SHAH, THOMAS SPILLER, DONALD GAETZ, and B. LITTLE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

STACI M. YANDLE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Andre Rankin, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights at Pinckneyville in 2013-14. In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was severely beaten by his cellmate on May 22, 2013, after he notified Pinckneyville officials that his cellmate had already stabbed him. Plaintiff was denied adequate medical treatment for his injuries, and his grievances about the assault and lack of medical care were delayed, ignored, and ultimately denied. Prison officials allegedly retaliated against Plaintiff by placing him in segregation for an undisclosed period of time more than a year later, while ignoring his grievances challenging this decision.

Plaintiff now sues Donald Wanack (correctional officer), B. Little (nurse), Vipin Shah (doctor), Donald Gaetz (former warden), and Thomas Spiller (current warden) for violating his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.[1] He seeks declaratory judgment, monetary damages, and injunctive relief.

Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

The complaint is now subject to preliminary 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 survives preliminary review under this standard.

The Complaint

On May 22, 2013, [2] Plaintiff informed C/O Wanack that his cellmate, Robert Biggs, attempted to stab him several times with a ballpoint pin (Doc. 1, p. 3). He asked C/O Wanack to move him from the cell. C/O Wanack advised Plaintiff that he would first be required to formally refuse his housing assignment before he could be relocated, and this would result in his placement in segregation.

Plaintiff agreed to follow this procedure. He refused his housing assignment, and he was taken out of the cell. The janitor began packing his property. C/O Wanack completed an incident report and notified Lieutenant Conway, who is not named as a defendant in this action, of Plaintiff's decision. Lieutenant Conway informed Plaintiff that no cell in the segregation unit was available due to overcrowding. Plaintiff asked Lieutenant Conway if an alternative arrangement was available, such as placement in a different cell. Lieutenant Conway said that he would discuss this option with the placement office.

When C/O Wanack learned of these discussions, he became angry. Instead of moving Plaintiff, he ordered Plaintiff to return to his original cell. As Plaintiff walked into his cell, Inmate Biggs said, "I am going to f*ck you up b*tch" (Doc. 1, p. 4). Inmate Biggs then struck Plaintiff over his right eye with an ink pen, causing his head to bleed. He punched Plaintiff in the face repeatedly until Plaintiff lost consciousness. Plaintiff later learned that Inmate Biggs also bit him on the shoulder.

When Plaintiff regained consciousness, C/O Wanack was screaming at him to get off of the floor. Plaintiff could not stand. He was dizzy, and his neck hurt. C/O Wanack handcuffed Plaintiff tightly behind his back and again ordered him to stand. When Plaintiff explained that he was unable to do so, C/O Wanack grabbed one of Plaintiff's legs and dragged him into the dayroom, as Plaintiff's pants fell down below his hips. Eventually, another officer helped Plaintiff stand so that he could walk off of the wing.

C/O Wanack told Lieutenant Conway that Plaintiff "beat himself up" (Doc. 1, p. 4). The correctional officer escorted Plaintiff to the health care unit ("HCU"), and a nurse cleaned Plaintiff's head injury. No other treatment was provided.

During the next six weeks, Plaintiff regularly requested medical care for his injuries, particularly a swollen finger that he could not move and the bite mark he discovered on his shoulder after the assault (Doc. 1, p. 5). Time and again, Plaintiff was provided with inadequate medical care. Instead of treating these injuries, a nurse placed him on suicide watch on May 23rd. When he asked a mental health care provider for medical care on May 25th, he was instead interviewed by an internal affairs officer who accused him of "biting himself" and then threatened him with disciplinary charges. When Plaintiff met with Nurse Little on June 13th after submitting sick call requests on May 28th, June 2nd, and June 9th, she refused to refer him to a doctor and erroneously noted in his medical chart that he was seen for dental problems (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). And when Plaintiff finally met with Doctor Shah on July 2nd, the doctor would only speak with him about right hip pain and no other injuries without another round of referrals. Further requests for these referrals resulted in the suspension of Plaintiff's prescription pain relievers on September 16th (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff's related grievances were delayed, ignored, and ultimately denied by prison officials, including Warden Gaetz.

On July 15, 2014, C/O Wanack placed Plaintiff in segregation for an undisclosed period of time. No disciplinary ticket, investigation, or hearing coincided with Plaintiff's move. Plaintiff maintains that C/O Wanack transferred him to segregation in order to harass, intimidate, and humiliate Plaintiff. When he filed a grievance to challenge ...


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