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West v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 29, 2016

KENTES WEST, # K-82893 Plaintiff,
KIMBERLY BUTLER, et al., Defendants.


          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is serving sentences for murder, armed robbery and aggravated battery. In his Complaint, Plaintiff names 29 individual defendants and includes two more unknown defendants. He raises a number of claims, including being subjected to unconstitutional cell conditions, attacks on him by prison guards and by other inmates at the instigation of prison officials, denial of medical care following the attacks, deprivation of his legal materials, destruction of his property and harassment by prison staff. The claims arise out of several distinct incidents which involve different defendants. Additionally, some of the listed defendants are not associated with a specific claim.

         The Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the Court to screen prisoner complaints, and to 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. Initially, however, the Court shall consider whether the various claims against different defendants may appropriately proceed together in the same case. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007) (unrelated claims against different defendants belong in separate lawsuits).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff was first confined at Menard in October 2011. As background to his current claims, he describes having filed grievances over witnessing the beating of another inmate by prison guards, which resulted in Plaintiff's “aggression” classification being increased for no reason (Doc. 1, pp. 21-22). He later was subjected to cell shakedowns, fabricated disciplinary charges, placement in segregation and a beating by prison guards, after Plaintiff wrote other grievances and asked for protective custody. He notes that those incidents “led up to the events which brought about this new complaint of Plaintiff being assaulted by staff member and inmates” (Doc. 1, p. 24). The Complaint then describes a number of alleged violations of Plaintiff's rights, starting in approximately June 2015. He attaches 90 pages of exhibits to his pleading (Docs. 1-1 and 1-2).

         Plaintiff alleges that he has been threatened by staff members, had meals withheld and has received meal trays that contained trash or tobacco spit (Doc. 1, p. 24). On June 17, 2015, “they” began to throw Plaintiff's laundry away (Doc. 1, p. 25).

         On July 2, 2015, Plaintiff was denied a meal tray. His request to speak with an officer was denied, so he flooded his cell to get attention. Defendant Sgt. Bebout and Defendant Best responded by threatening Plaintiff and issuing him a disciplinary ticket. These defendants then had the water and toilet in Plaintiff's cell turned off “for longer than they [were] supposed to” (Doc. 1, p. 25; Doc. 1-2, pp. 2-3).

         On July 5, 2015, Plaintiff was still in a cell with no working toilet or running water and received a food tray with trash on it. In response, Plaintiff threw spoiled food and feces on the worker (presumably the inmate who gave him the tainted tray) in an attempt to be moved. Defendant Sgt. Bebout and Defendant Mayer told Plaintiff to cuff up so they could let the other inmate (Linzy) beat him, but Plaintiff refused to submit to being handcuffed. Another officer intervened and Plaintiff was not beaten (Doc. 1, p. 26).

         On July 10, 2015, Plaintiff complained to Defendant Counselor Nippe that his grievances were not being answered. He wanted to lay the groundwork for going to court, but more importantly, wanted to obtain a transfer. She responded that answering grievances was up to the discretion of Menard officials. Plaintiff had his sister contact Defendant Warden Butler regarding his grievances being discarded or ignored (Doc. 1, pp. 26-27).

         On the morning of July 17, 2015, the inmate whose cell was directly above Plaintiff's flooded Plaintiff's cell with urine and feces by repeatedly flushing the toilet in the upstairs cell. Plaintiff had to remain in his contaminated cell until 11:00 a.m. before he was finally allowed out for workers to clean the cell (Doc. 1, pp. 27-28). Plaintiff does not identify which officers were involved in this incident.

         On July 20, 2015, Plaintiff went out to the yard for the first time in months and was attacked by two inmates whom he did not know. He thought the attack was instigated by another inmate, but now believes that a prison official (whom he does not identify) was behind it. Unnamed staff had previously threatened Plaintiff about going out to yard, which led him to stop going outside. Plaintiff was issued a disciplinary report which he claims was factually incorrect; he characterizes the altercation as a “three on two fight.” Defendant Brookman chaired the disciplinary committee and punished Plaintiff with six months in segregation for his involvement (Doc. 1, pp. 28-29; Doc. 1-2, pp. 9-12).

         After this incident, a fellow inmate (White) told Defendant Rakers that the July 20th fight was racially motivated and that Plaintiff had started it, causing Defendant Rakers to target Plaintiff. On July 29, 2015, inmate White threw feces in front of Plaintiff's cell and told Defendant Rakers that Plaintiff did it. Defendant Rakers sent Defendant Slavens to Plaintiff's cell to threaten him (Doc. 1, pp. 29-30).

         On July 30, 2015, Defendant Rakers tried to give Plaintiff an empty food tray. Plaintiff reported the empty tray to Defendant Harris who told Plaintiff to talk to his gallery officer, but failed to summon another officer for Plaintiff or get him another tray. Plaintiff responded by again flooding his cell to get the attention of officers. Defendants Eoavaldi and Paige came on the scene and told Plaintiff he was “going to get it today” (Doc. 1, p. 31). Plaintiff refused to cuff up on their orders, fearing a beating. Defendants Eoavaldi and Paige issued Plaintiff a disciplinary report, then sent Orange Crush officers to deal with Plaintiff. Plaintiff tried to comply with the Orange Crush officers, but they threw him to the ground, put his face in toilet water, pulled out his hair, sprayed him with a chemical substance and “rubbed agent orange pepper spray” on his genital area. Id. Plaintiff's clothes and Nike shoes were thrown in the trash and he was placed into a cell with no water, no working toilet, no mattress and no clothing, “for longer than is required.” Id. Plaintiff apparently remained in that cell until he was transferred out on August 5, 2015, at which time he still had no mattress, sheets or running water.

         On August 4, 2015, Defendant Rakers intentionally slammed Plaintiff's hand in the metal food slot to his cell, causing bleeding and the later loss of two fingernails (Doc. 1, p. 32). Defendant Rakers then refused to get medical attention for Plaintiff. Plaintiff showed the wounds to Defendant Nurse Misty, who refused to help him. The next day (August 5, 2015), a medical technician (Stephanie, who is not a named Defendant) told Plaintiff to clean the dried blood, but Plaintiff could not do so because his water was still off. She then told him to get it addressed after he was transferred to Stateville Correctional Center.

         Unidentified staff members have kept Plaintiff's legal material from him, forcing him to go to court without his papers on July 9, 2015 and August 5, 2015 (Doc. 1, pp. 24-25).

         On August 26, 2015, Plaintiff was returned to Menard from Stateville and placed on Four Gallery. He complained about this placement in a letter to Defendant Butler because he was being harassed by staff and by inmate worker Linzy in that location (Doc. 1, p. 33). He was placed in a cell (# 419) where the sink and toilet did not work properly. He learned that his TV, headphones and lamp had been damaged in his absence. Staff took $125.00 from Plaintiff, apparently to repair the items (Doc. 1, pp. 33-34). Defendant I.A. Officer S. Bebout (Internal Affairs Officer) gave false information about the condition of Plaintiff's property.

         Plaintiff wrote to the U.S. Department of Justice in September and October 2015, asking them to investigate Menard officials (Doc. 1, p. 34; Doc. 1-1, p. 29). On October 7, 2015, Plaintiff went on suicide watch in an attempt to get staff to respond to a grievance (Doc. 1, p. 35).

         On November 10, 2015, Plaintiff was again attacked, this time by three other inmates (Doc. 1, pp. 35-36). During the assault, Defendant Swisher sprayed Plaintiff with mace. Plaintiff was repeatedly kicked in the head and after the assault, Defendant Chad and others would not give Plaintiff any pain medication. Based on information provided to Plaintiff by Defendant Bump (of Internal Affairs), Plaintiff claims that this attack on him was set up by Defendant Sgt. Bebout.

         On an unspecified date, Plaintiff had a call pass to go for psychological health care and to the clothing room, but Defendant Migneron would not allow him to go out on these call passes (Doc. 1, p. 36). A mental health worker (Meyers, who is not a Defendant) came to Plaintiff's cell.

         On December 1, 2015, Plaintiff went on suicide watch again in an attempt to get a response to a grievance. On December 13, 2015, Plaintiff filed another grievance over the November 10, 2015 attack, after Defendant Hill said she did not receive his earlier one.

         On December 24, 2015, Plaintiff met with Defendant Internal Affairs Officer S. Bebout (the wife of Defendant Sgt. Bebout), who told Plaintiff that both she and her husband disliked him because he had gone on a hunger strike and suicide watch. At some point, Plaintiff told Defendant I.A. Officer S. Bebout that he had conflicts with inmate White. On January 5, 2016, [1]Plaintiff was moved to a cell right next door to inmate White (Doc. 1, p. 37). Plaintiff states that he has a constant fear of being harmed and no longer leaves his cell at all.

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages (Doc. 1, p. 37).


         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following 19 counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice.

Count 1: Eighth and/or Fourteenth Amendment claim against Unknown Defendants who threw away Plaintiff's laundry on June 17, 2015;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim against Unknown Defendants who denied Plaintiff a meal on July 2, 2015, and put trash in Plaintiff's food on July 5, 2015;
Count 3: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Sgt. Bebout and Best for shutting off the water and toilet in Plaintiff's cell on July 2, 2015, and keeping him confined in the cell without water or a working toilet until at least July 5, 2015;
Count 4: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Sgt. Bebout and Mayer for attempting to have another inmate beat Plaintiff on July 5, 2015;
Count 5: Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claim against Defendants Nippe, Butler, and Hill for failing to answer Plaintiff's grievances;
Count 6: Eighth Amendment claim against Unknown Defendants who kept Plaintiff in his cell for several hours after it was flooded with urine and feces on July 17, 2015;
Count 7: Eighth Amendment claim against Unknown Defendant(s) who incited other inmates to attack Plaintiff in the yard on July 20, 2015, and against Defendant Brookman for imposing disciplinary segregation on Plaintiff as punishment for fighting back after he was attacked;
Count 8: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Rakers and Slavens for threatening Plaintiff on July 29, 2015, after another inmate blamed Plaintiff for throwing feces;
Count 9: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Rakers and Harris, for failing to feed Plaintiff a meal on July 30, 2015;
Count 10: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Eoavaldi and Paige, for sending the Orange Crush team to remove Plaintiff from his cell on July 30, 2015, and against the Unknown Orange Crush Officers, for subjecting Plaintiff to excessive force on that date;
Count 11: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Eoavaldi and Paige, for having Plaintiff placed in a cell with no water, no working toilet, no mattress, and no clothing, from July 30 until approximately August 5, 2015;
Count 12: Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against Defendant Rakers for slamming Plaintiff's hand in the food slot on August 4, 2015; and deliberate indifference claims against Defendants Rakers and Misty for refusing Plaintiff medical attention for his resulting injuries;
Count 13: Claims against Unknown Defendants for hindering Plaintiff's access to the courts, by failing to give him his legal documents needed for court ...

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