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Mitchell v. Foster

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 9, 2016

DANNEL MAURICE MITCHELL, # R-07374, Plaintiff,
v.
CRAIG FOSTER, COUNSELOR FATHEREE, COUNSELOR HARTER, and COUNSELOR PIERCE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge United States District Court.

         This matter is before the Court to review Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint (Doc. 17), filed on May 16, 2016, at the direction of the Court. Plaintiff also filed several documents as exhibits to the complaint (Doc. 19). Since this action was filed, Plaintiff was transferred from Vandalia Correctional Center (“Vandalia”) to Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”).

         In a sealed order dated May 2, 2016, the Court dismissed a number of Plaintiff’s claims, and severed others into four separate cases (Doc. 16).[1] The dismissed claims included Count 1 against Defendants Foster, Harter, and Pierce, for mishandling and denying Plaintiff’s grievances; and Count 2 against Defendant Foster for refusing to place Plaintiff in a drug treatment program. Both Count 1 and Count 2 were dismissed from this action with prejudice, and Defendants Harter and Pierce (who were included as parties only with reference to Counts 1 and 2) were also dismissed from the action with prejudice. The only claim remaining in this action is Count 3 against Defendant Foster, which was described in the original threshold order as follows:

         Count 3:

Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Foster for failing to mitigate the spider infestation in the prison.

         Plaintiff was ordered to submit an amended complaint if he wished to further pursue Count 3 against Defendant Foster. His amended pleading (Doc. 17) was timely filed.

         The First Amended Complaint is now subject to preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         The First Amended Complaint (Doc. 17)

         Plaintiff states that while he was incarcerated at Vandalia, from August 15 through November 5, 2015, he submitted grievances (including emergency grievances) to Defendants Foster and Fatheree, as well as to dismissed Defendants Harter and Pierce, about the conditions in his cell. Plaintiff had observed spider webs above his bunk, and in the corners of the area surrounding his bunk. He saw spiders crawling on the walls and on his bed. He informed the individual Defendants both verbally and in writing about these conditions. However, they failed to implement a plan to exterminate the spider infestation (Doc. 17, p. 6).

         During the time he was lodging these complaints, Plaintiff was bitten by a brown recluse spider. His exhibits show that he was treated by medical staff for the bite on October 25, 2015 (Doc. 19, pp. 1-2). He was treated for MRSA, and suffered pain as a result of the bite. He also suffered psychological harm from the infestation conditions. He seeks monetary damages.

         As noted above, Count 3 as delineated in the original complaint was against only Defendant Foster, the Vandalia warden. In the amended complaint, Plaintiff adds a new Defendant, Counselor Fatheree. The amended pleading also adds new allegations against previously dismissed Defendants Counselor Harter and Counselor Pierce, stating specifically that they received his complaints about the spider infestation but took no action to remedy the problem.

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         Section 1915A requires the Court 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).

         Based on the allegations in the First Amended Complaint, the Court shall recharacterize ...


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