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Clark v. Korondo

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 29, 2015

DANIEL CLARK, # K-98637, Plaintiff,


J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Daniel Clark, who is currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center ("Pontiac"), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for numerous constitutional deprivations that occurred during his incarceration at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"). Plaintiff claims that several Menard officials, including Defendants Korondo, Pelker, and Cartwright, responded to his suicide attempt with excessive force on September 11, 2013. He now seeks declaratory judgment, monetary damages, and injunctive relief.

Plaintiff previously filed a Section 1983 action to address these claims. See also Clark v. Cartwright, et al., Case No. 14-cv-00054-JPG-PMF (S.D. Ill. 2014). His complaint survived threshold review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A ( Id. at Doc. 9). However, the case was dismissed after Plaintiff failed to pay his initial partial filing fee ( Id. at Doc. 47). The dismissal was without prejudice, so Plaintiff is not foreclosed from pursuing his claims in a new action.

This matter is now before the Court for preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Plaintiff filed his original complaint on July 1, 2015 (Doc. 1). Before the Court screened the complaint, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking leave to file an amended complaint on July 14, 2015 (Doc. 7). Along with the motion, he filed a proposed amended complaint. Plaintiff's motion and proposed pleading satisfy the requirements for amended pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), and the motion shall be granted. The Clerk shall be instructed to file the proposed amended pleading as the "First Amended Complaint" in CM/ECF.

The first amended complaint is now ripe for review. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to dismiss any portion of the pleading 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 first amended complaint survives threshold review under this standard.

First Amended Complaint

During his incarceration at Menard on September 11, 2013, Plaintiff asked C/O Korondo if he could speak to a mental health professional. C/O Korondo ignored this request and told Plaintiff to write a grievance instead. Plaintiff then tied one end of a bed sheet around his neck and the other end to his cell bars. He attempted to hang himself.

When C/O Korondo returned for a cell check, he saw Plaintiff hanging by his neck, but continued walking past the cell. He returned a couple minutes later and grabbed the sheet in an attempt to strangle Plaintiff while yelling racial insults at him. The shouting woke up Plaintiff's cellmate, who told C/O Korondo to get off Plaintiff and call for help.

C/O Korondo called for Sergeant Pelker on his radio. He told Sergeant Pelker that Plaintiff tried to hang himself in order to avoid time in disciplinary segregation. C/O Korondo and Sergeant Pelker then handcuffed Plaintiff and escorted him to a room in the health care unit. Once out of view of the surveillance cameras, they ordered Plaintiff to bend over, put his chin on the hospital bed, and look straight at the wall. When Plaintiff did so, C/O Korondo squeezed the back of Plaintiff's neck while holding his handcuffs, forcing him down on the mattress. At the same time, Sergeant Pelker repeatedly kicked Plaintiff in the buttocks, saying that they "aint about to be saving no ni***rs from killing theyself [sic]."

Lieutenant Cartwright arrived fifteen minutes later. He walked up to Plaintiff, used both hands to grab him around the neck, and began choking Plaintiff while screaming racial insults at him. He then shoved Plaintiff, who fell and struck his elbow against the sink. Lieutenant Cartwright picked him back up, choked him again, and spit in his face, while directing additional racial insults toward Plaintiff. Both C/O Korondo and Lieutenant Cartwright told Plaintiff that they "hate ni***rs."

Eventually these three officers took Plaintiff to meet with a mental health professional, Doctor Hillerman, who is not named as a defendant in this action. Plaintiff specifically asked to speak with the doctor alone. Doctor Hillerman denied this request and instructed Plaintiff to speak or go back to his cell. In the presence of all three officers, Plaintiff told Doctor Hillerman that he was "feeling suicidal and homicidal because the C/O's just jumped [him] for no reason." He also indicated that he was depressed because he was unable to contact his family and kids. In response, Doctor Hillerman told Plaintiff to return to his cell or the cell that the three officers chose for him.

C/O Korondo, Sergeant Pelker, and Lieutenant Cartwright took Plaintiff to a different cell in 6 Gallery. The cell had no working water, no personal property, and no ventilation. The officers denied Plaintiff's request for his inhaler.

The following day, Plaintiff met with Doctor Whiteside, who is also not named as a defendant in this action. After speaking with him, the doctor placed Plaintiff on suicide watch in a different cell for fourteen days. He was again placed on suicide watch after cutting his wrists and again attempting suicide following the expiration of the initial suicide watch. Eventually, Plaintiff was transferred from Menard to Pontiac, where he is currently incarcerated.

Plaintiff seeks monetary damages against C/O Korondo, Sergeant Pelker, and Lieutenant Cartwright, for violating his constitutional rights. He also seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction against them, in the form of ...

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