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Rico v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 14, 2016

MIGUEL RICO, Plaintiff,


          MICHAEL J. REAGAN U.S. Chief District Judge.

         Plaintiff Miguel Rico, an inmate in Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for events that happened at Menard Correctional Center. Plaintiff seeks declarative relief and damages. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         An 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). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). 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. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se Complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Plaintiff filed this Complaint on August 4, 2016. (Doc. 1). However, Plaintiff failed to sign the Complaint, and so on September 29, 2016, the Court directed Plaintiff to file a proper signed Complaint. (Doc. 9). Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint with his signature on October 17, 2016. (Doc. 10).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         Prior to the events at issue here, Plaintiff renounced his gang membership in the Latin Folks by speaking to prison authorities and giving them information about the Latin Folks and the Latin Kings. (Doc. 10, p. 2). As a result of this debriefing, Plaintiff was approved for protective custody. (Doc. 10, p. 2). Plaintiff alleges that gang members had placed a verified contract out on his head. (Doc. 10, p. 3). While in protective custody, Plaintiff was disciplined for a separate incident and sent to general population segregation in the North 2 cell house. (Doc. 10, p. 2-3). Plaintiff alleges that John Doe #4 failed to notify segregation staff that Plaintiff could not be housed with gang members while in segregation. (Doc. 10, p. 2-3).

         When Plaintiff arrived at North 2, he was housed with a Latin King member known as Abdelhamed. (Doc. 10, p. 3). On July 19, 2014, [1] Abdelhamed began receiving kites from other gang members directing him to “smash” Plaintiff because Plaintiff had dropped out of the Latin Folks and debriefed. (Doc. 1, p. 4). The notes told Abdelhamed that if he refused to smash Plaintiff, he would be beaten for disobeying an order from the gang chiefs. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Abdelhamed showed Plaintiff the kites and told Plaintiff he had until 10 pm to get out of their shared cell, or he would beat Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, p. 4).

         Plaintiff stopped the cell house gallery officer, Keith Sanden, and told him that he had been placed in a general population cell, and to please check with John Doe #4 and J. Hecht because he was supposed to be separated from all Latin Folks gangs in Menard. Sanden replied, “suck it up, you're not in P.C. now.” (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff then explained that he was a former gang member and had debriefed, and that his cellmate had received kites instructing him to beat Plaintiff. (Doc. 10, p. 5). Abdelhamed himself told Sanden that if Plaintiff was not out of his cell by 10 pm, he would “beat the brakes” off Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Sanden told Plaintiff he would check with the cell house Sergeant, John Doe #1. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff begged Sanden not to leave him alone with Abdelhamed or to take him with him, but Sanden told Plaintiff to “stop whining and acting like a punk.” (Doc. 10, p. 5).

         Sanden continued to make his rounds. (Doc. 10, p. 5). Abdelhamed began punching, slapping, and kicking Plaintiff in the face and body, and Sanden observed the assault. (Doc. 10, p. 5). Plaintiff cried out for help, but Sanden told him to man-up and fight back. (Doc. 10, p. 5). Sanden eventually told Plaintiff that he had discussed the matter with John Doe #1, and that Doe #1 said he would “look into it.” (Doc. 10, p. 5). Sanden further told Plaintiff that if Plaintiff wanted out of the cell, he should fight back and then Sanden would write them both an incident report for fighting. (Doc. 10, p. 5). Sanden told Plaintiff that fighting was the only way he would let Plaintiff out of the cell with Abdelhamed. (Doc. 10, p. 5).

         Doe #1 stopped by Plaintiff's cell several hours later. (Doc. 10, p. 6). Plaintiff explained the entire situation. (Doc. 10, p. 6). He also told Doe #1 that he wanted to file a grievance on Doe #4, Hecht, and Sanden for their conduct. (Doc. 10, p. 6). At that time, Plaintiff's lips and eye were swollen. (Doc. 10, p. 6). Plaintiff asked Doe #1 to remove him from the cell. (Doc. 10, p. 6). Doe #1 replied that “you tell me you want to write my staff up, and get my officers in trouble, are you crazy, Rico? Deal with it the best you can, I won't help you write grievances or reports against my officers, have a nice day Mr. Rico.” (Doc. 10, p. 6). Doe #1 then told Sanden, “let them fight a little then write them both up for fighting. That will cover your ass if he writes grievances.” (Doc. 10, p. 6-7).

         At approximately 9:30 pm on July 19, 2014, Sanden made his last round, and Plaintiff allowed him to see Plaintiff throwing punches so that Sanden would write an incident report and remove Plaintiff from the cell. (Doc. 10, p. 7). Sanden laughed and told Plaintiff you finally “grew some punk ass balls.” (Doc. 10, p. 7). Plaintiff was beaten and bruised. (Doc. 10, p. 7). Plaintiff received an incident report. (Doc. 10, p. 7). He was ultimately disciplined for the fight, even though he explained the situation to the adjustment committee. (Doc. 10, p. 7).

         Plaintiff was then moved to another cell in the North 2 cell house. (Doc. 10, p. 7). He had an interview with internal affairs officer John Doe #2 about the incident with Abdelhamed and his interactions with Sanden and Doe #1. (Doc. 10, p. 8). Plaintiff told John Doe #2 that all of the Latin King and Latin Folk members should have been on Plaintiff's keep safe from (“KSF”) list. (Doc. 10, p. 8). Doe #2 became angry and told Plaintiff not to tell him how to do his job. (Doc. 10, p. 8). He then told Plaintiff that Menard did not have the bed space to create a protective custody segregation unit, and therefore he had no choice but to return Plaintiff to general population segregation. (Doc. 10, p. 8).

         On July 31, 2014, Ryan Valleroy brought another inmate, Garcia, to Plaintiff's cell. (Doc. 10, p. 9). Garcia was a member of La Raza, a gang affiliated with the Latin Folks. (Doc. 10, p. 9). Valleroy told Plaintiff that Garcia was going to be his new cellmate, and suggested that Garcia could teach Plaintiff some lessons about writing grievances on officers and “how to be a man.” (Doc. 10, p. 9). Plaintiff then explained to Valleroy about his protective custody status and how he had renounced and debriefed, and thus needed to be separated from La Raza members like Garcia. (Doc. 10, p. 9). Valleroy promised to tell the sergeant, John Doe #5. (Doc. 10, p. 9). Doe #5 came to Plaintiff's cell, and Plaintiff explained his situation. (Doc. 10, p. 9). Doe #5 told Plaintiff that he cannot control the placement officer, and then directed Valleroy to put Garcia into Plaintiff's cell. (Doc. 10, p. 9). He also directed Valleroy to write Plaintiff a ticket if the inmates started to fight because that way Plaintiff would not be able to write grievances against the officers. (Doc. 10, p. 9). Valleroy then placed Garcia in Plaintiff's cell and told them to “play nice.” (Doc. 10, p. 10).

         Garcia immediately received two kites telling him that Plaintiff was a snitch and to “handle” Plaintiff. (Doc. 10, p. 19). At approximately 2:30 pm on July 31, 2014, Garcia punched Plaintiff in the face and upper body. (Doc. 10, p. 10). Plaintiff began to black out and decided that he needed to fight back for his own safety. (Doc. 10, p. 10). Valleroy witnessed the fight. (Doc. 10, p. 10). Doe #5 told Valleroy not to take Plaintiff to health care, and Plaintiff was moved to a different cell and given an ...

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