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McClanahan v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 5, 2016

CHASE LEE McCLANAHAN, # B-89851, Plaintiff,


          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His claims arose while he was briefly confined at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). Plaintiff is serving a 39-year sentence for a sex offense. Plaintiff claims that several prison guards, whose identities he does not know, used excessive force against him soon after his arrival at Menard. The Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Under § 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must 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).

         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. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff’s claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Applying these standards, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s claim survives threshold review under § 1915A.

         The Complaint

         On April 22, 2015, Plaintiff was convicted of a felony in Perry County, Illinois. The following day, he was transferred from the county jail to Menard. When Plaintiff entered the guard shack at Menard, Defendant Officer #1 asked him what charge he was convicted of, and the age of the victim (Doc. 1, p. 5). When Plaintiff answered, Defendant #1 called him a “sick bastard.” Id. Defendant #1 then instructed Plaintiff to follow him inside the guard shack, where he ordered Plaintiff to “drown himself” in a filthy toilet (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff dunked his head in the toilet water while Defendant #1 laughed and mocked him.

         A group of inmates entered the area, and Defendant #1 told them about Plaintiff’s conviction. Defendant #1 then ordered Plaintiff to follow him outside, where Defendant Officer #2 came on the scene and was informed of the nature of Plaintiff’s offense by Defendant #1.

         Defendant #2 picked Plaintiff up off the ground, slammed him against a chain-link fence, and screamed obscenities at him. Defendant #2 patted Plaintiff down for contraband and purposely struck Plaintiff in the genitals (Doc. 1, p. 7). He then “man-handled” Plaintiff into a cell house in front of several other officers, including a Lieutenant. None of these officers did anything to stop Defendant #2’s rough handling of Plaintiff. Id.

         Defendant #2 informed the group of officers about Plaintiff’s sex offense conviction. The Lieutenant (who shall be referred to herein as Defendant #3) then took Plaintiff into a small room, where a “large African American inmate” was waiting. Defendant #3 told the inmate about Plaintiff’s conviction charge, then left the room and closed the door. The inmate severely beat Plaintiff, injuring his left eye, jaw, and ribcage. After he finished beating Plaintiff, the inmate opened the door and let Defendant #3 back into the room. Defendant #3 had Plaintiff follow him back outside the cell house, where a group of officers were laughing as if they knew Plaintiff had just received a beating.

         Another officer (Kelly Dale or Dare) took Plaintiff to the clothing warehouse. On the way, she told him that he should hang himself with a sheet to do everybody a favor (Doc. 1, p. 8). She later took him to the health care unit, where a nurse noticed that Plaintiff had marks under his left eye and on his neck. The nurse called Internal Affairs (“IA”), and Plaintiff reported the attack to them. Plaintiff said he was feeling suicidal, which led to him being placed on a crisis watch.

         Later in the afternoon, Plaintiff was interviewed by two IA officers. Another official asked Plaintiff if he would feel safer if he were moved North to Pontiac or Stateville, and Plaintiff agreed that he would. At around 4:00pm that day (the same day of the beating), Plaintiff was transferred away from Menard.

         Plaintiff now seeks damages and a transfer to a medium-security prison or to protective custody in Pontiac Correctional Center (Doc. 1, p. 14).

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 ...

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