Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hernandez-Guinac v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 29, 2016

AURELIO HERNANDEZ-GUINAC, #13908-029, Plaintiff


          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Aurelio Hernandez-Guinac, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Greenville Federal Correctional Institution (“FCI-Greenville”), brings this pro se action against the United States of America and the Federal Bureau of Prisons pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671-2680. According to the Complaint, Plaintiff suffered a medical emergency on December 23, 2015, after slipping and falling down five stairs in Unit 4A at FCI-Greenville (Doc. 1, pp. 1-3). He entered the unit during a heavy downpour. The hallway was wet. The gray plastic covering on the stairs was severely worn. The “dimples” that normally prevent the stairs from becoming slippery actually caused hazardous conditions to develop on the stairs (id.). Prison officials were aware of the dangerous conditions but posted no signs in the area to warn prisoners about the situation. As a result, Plaintiff slipped and fell down five steps, sustaining serious injuries.

         When prison officials found him in the common area of Unit 4A, Plaintiff was being propped up into a standing position by three inmates. He was extremely pale in color and “dazed” (id.). Speaking in broken English, Plaintiff attempted to tell the prison officials what happened to him. He complained of lower back and neck pain.

         Plaintiff was immediately strapped to a backboard and placed in a “C-Collar” (id.). After being immobilized, he was taken to the prison's healthcare unit where medical staff determined that he should be sent to Greenville Hospital for emergency evaluation and treatment. He was diagnosed at the hospital with a fractured lumbar vertebra, a herniated disc and a closed spinal cord injury (id. at 3).

         Plaintiff now claims that these injuries could have been avoided. Prison officials allegedly knew that the stair coverings in Unit 4A were worn and required replacement. These officials were also allegedly aware that the hallway and stairs were wet after the rainstorm. Even so, they failed to post “caution” or “wet floor” signs in the area. Plaintiff claims that their conduct amounted to negligence, for which the United States and Federal Bureau of Prisons should be held liable. He seeks $21, 000 in monetary damages against these defendants (id.).

         Merits Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         This matter is before the Court for preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 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 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).

         Accepting the allegations in the Complaint as true, the Court finds that Plaintiff has articulated a colorable claim (Count 1) against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671-2680. Accordingly, Count 1 is subject to further review against the United States.

         However, Plaintiff's FTCA claim shall be dismissed with prejudice against the Federal Bureau of Prisons. An action under the FTCA must be brought against the United States, in its own name, and not in the name of a federal agency, even when that agency has a statutory power to sue and be sued. Hughes v. United States, No. 11-CV-800-WDS, 2013 WL 750057, at *1 (S.D. Ill. Feb. 27, 2013) (citations omitted). The only proper defendant in an FTCA action is the United States. Jackson v. Kotter, 541 F.3d 688, 693 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 681 (7th Cir. 2006) (“[T]he United States . . . would be the proper defendant for tort claims involving acts of the named officials within the scope of their employment.”); Stewart v. United States, 655 F.2d 741, 742 (7th Cir. 1981) (“Plaintiff has no cause of action . . . [under the FTCA] against an employee, her exclusive remedy being an action against the United States.”); 28 U.S.C. § 2679(b)(1)). Accordingly, Count 1 shall be DISMISSED with prejudice against the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

         Pending Motion

         Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 4), which will be addressed in a separate Order of this Court.


         IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that COUNT 1 is DISMISSED with prejudice against Defendant FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, based on Plaintiff's failure to state a claim against this defendant upon which relief may be granted. Further, the Clerk is DIRECTED to TERMINATE Defendant FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS as a party in CM/ECF.

         IT IS ORDERED that COUNT 1 is subject to further review against Defendant UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. With regard to COUNT 1, the Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to complete, on Plaintiff's behalf, a Summons for service of process on Defendant UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The Clerk shall issue the completed summons. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(i), the Clerk shall (1) personally deliver to or send by registered or certified mail addressed to the civil-process clerk at the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois a copy of the Summons, the Complaint (Doc. 1), and this Memorandum and Order; and (2) send ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.