United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE United States District Judge
matter is now before the Court for consideration of the
Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 16) filed on behalf of
Plaintiff Dwaine Coleman by his attorney, Michael J. Hickey.
Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional
Center. He brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against four officials at Vienna
Correctional Center ("Vienna") who allegedly
subjected him to the unauthorized use of excessive force,
retaliation and/or the denial of access to the courts during
his incarceration at Vienna in 2014-15 (Doc. 16, pp. 1-12).
These officials include Lieutenant Vinson, Lieutenant
Mitchell, Lieutenant Harrison and C/O Blessing
(id.). In connection with these claims, Plaintiff
seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief (id. at
Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the
Second Amended 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 is required to dismiss any
portion of the Second Amended 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.
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). 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 plaintiffs 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 Rodriguez v.
Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir.
2009). The Second Amended Complaint survives preliminary
review under this standard.
Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he has a
long history of severe back pain (Doc. 16, pp. 3-8). More
recently, he has begun to experience pain in his genitals as
well (id. at 3). During his incarceration at Vienna
in 2014 and 2015, he submitted numerous written requests for
medical treatment for both conditions. He was consistently
told to "eat well and exercise more"
(id.). Occasionally, he was given ibuprofen for
pain. Plaintiff considered this treatment to be inadequate,
so he resorted to other tactics for obtaining medical
November 17, 2014, Plaintiff requested crisis intervention
and threatened to file a grievance when prison officials
allegedly interfered with his ability to take "some
medication" (id. at 4). Lieutenant Mitchell
warned Plaintiff that he would be placed in segregation if he
filed a grievance. Plaintiff ignored this warning and filed
one anyway. He was placed in segregation and his grievance
was ignored. As a result, Plaintiff continued to suffer from
unrelenting and untreated pain in his back and genitals
December 1, 2014, Plaintiff submitted an emergency grievance
to complain of "excruciating pain" in his back and
genitals (id. at 3). He reported being in
"extreme pain for months" (id.). Plaintiff
received no response to this grievance until it was denied
almost three months later (id.).
December 11, 2014, he sent a letter demanding that Lieutenant
Harrison respond to his grievance and his request for medical
care. Plaintiff threatened to file a civil rights action
against the lieutenant if he failed to act in accordance with
Plaintiffs demands (id. at 4-5). In response,
Lieutenant Harrison "wrongfully retaliated" against
Plaintiff and denied him access to the courts by placing
Plaintiff in segregation and charging him with "making a
threat, engaging in intimidation and acting with
insolence" (id. at 5). Plaintiff subsequently
filed a grievance to complain about the incident and it too
was denied (id. at 5, n. 3).
for medical treatment, Plaintiff resorted to more extreme
measures. He flooded his cell on December 31, 2014
(id. at 5). Lieutenant Vinson responded and acted
"viciously and inappropriately" by dumping all of
Plaintiff s personal property on the wet floor, resulting in
the destruction of some of the property and legal paperwork.
Lieutenant Vinson then attempted to assault Plaintiff, but
another officer prevented him from doing so. Instead,
Plaintiff was left handcuffed in the prison shower for at
least two hours before being isolated from other inmates in
same day, Plaintiff expressed suicidal ideations and was
moved to a crisis cell. During the routine physical
assessment that coincided with his placement in the crisis
cell, Lieutenant Vinson again tried to strike Plaintiff
(id. at 6). The lieutenant was prevented from doing
so by another officer, who intervened and told him that
"[i]t isn't worth it" (id.).
Nevertheless, the officer made it clear that "they"
could do anything they wanted to Plaintiff.
January 3, 2015, Plaintiff went on a hunger strike
(id.). He knew that the prison followed
"certain protocols" for inmates who declared a
hunger strike, including a physical assessment by a heath
provider. Defendants Vinson and Blessing escorted Plaintiff
to the location where the physical assessment was to be
performed. Plaintiff alleges that Lieutenant Vinson
"interfer[ed], " during the assessment, but he does
not explain how. Plaintiff told the lieutenant that his
"present role was to provide security"
(id.). Plaintiffs comment angered the nurse, who
refused to complete the assessment, even after Plaintiff
informed the nurse that doing so violated hunger strike
protocol and warranted another grievance (id. at 7).
Vinson became angry when he heard Plaintiffs comments and
dragged Plaintiff back to his cell by his handcuffs
(id.). Once there, the lieutenant "slammed
Plaintiffs face into the doorway of the cell, which chipped
Plaintiffs tooth and caused a head injury"
(id.). Lieutenant Vinson then "reared back to
kick Plaintiff, but another officer stopped Vinson" from
doing so (id.). When the door of the crisis cell
closed, Lieutenant Vinson instructed Plaintiff to back up to
the "chuck hold" so that he could remove Plaintiffs
handcuffs. Plaintiff did so, and Lieutenant Vinson
"violently twisted Plaintiffs arms causing him to scream
in pain" (id.).
this incident, Plaintiff attempted to obtain medical
treatment for his injuries. When he requested medical care,
C/O Blessing grabbed Plaintiff around the throat and choked
him. Lieutenant Vinson then grabbed Plaintiff s jaw so hard
that Plaintiff could not speak to the nurse (id.).
Plaintiff filed a grievance to complain about the incident.
It was denied (id. at 7, n. 4).
January 4, 2015, Plaintiff was moved to a cell in the
prison's health care unit. The cell lacked running water
and was extremely cold and uncomfortable. He complained and
was interviewed by Warden Hilliard the next day. When the
warden asked Plaintiff what he wanted, Plaintiff said that he
wanted to be released from segregation and transferred to
another prison. Plaintiffs request was ...