United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE United States District Judge
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.
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
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).
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.).
Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
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).
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.
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.
has filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis (Doc. 4), which will be addressed in a separate
Order of this Court.
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.
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 ...