United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
ALI L. CROSS, Plaintiff,
CHRISTOPHER ZIOLKOWSI, MICHAEL C. CARR, and UNKNOWN PARTY, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Phil Gilbert United States District Judge
is a pretrial detainee, currently in custody at the Chester
Mental Health Center (“Chester”) after having
been found unfit to stand trial on pending charges in Jackson
County.He has brought this pro se civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case is
now before the Court for a preliminary review of the
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A .
§ 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner
complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See
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).
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 “no
reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.”
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. 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
plaintiff's 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 Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751
(7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
these standards, the Court finds that some of Plaintiff's
claims survive threshold review under § 1915A.
the Court must examine Plaintiff's pleadings to determine
which document should be evaluated as the operative
complaint. The original complaint was filed on June 15, 2016
(Doc. 1). In it, Plaintiff named three Defendants:
Christopher Ziolkowski, who is a private individual with whom
Plaintiff had an altercation on October 4, 2015, that led to
Plaintiff's arrest; Michael Carr, the Jackson County
State's Attorney who brought criminal charges against
Plaintiff; and the Unknown Carbondale Police Officer who
arrested Plaintiff. He raised claims based on his arrest and
detention in the Jackson County Jail, including false
imprisonment, illegal detention, deliberate indifference, due
process violations, and cruel and unusual punishment, and
sought compensatory and punitive damages.
August 31, 2016, Plaintiff submitted a “Motion to Amend
- Complaint Part 2, Part 3, Part 4” (Doc. 13). The
caption of that document names the following Defendants:
Carbondale Police - M. Austin; Jackson County Jail Staff; CPL
Swift, and CPL Mickulas. The body of this motion reveals that
Defendant Austin was the officer who arrested Plaintiff; he
had been included in the original complaint only as the
“Unknown Party.” However, Swift, Mickulas, and
the Jackson County Jail Staff were not named as parties in
the original complaint.
begins with a rambling statement about “Schemes of
deviousness” and a “Realm of oppression” in
the jail (Doc. 13, pp. 1-2). In “Part (2.)” of
the document, Plaintiff describes an “attempt on [his]
life” on April 4, 2016, led by Defendant Swift, who
(along with eight other deputies) shocked Plaintiff with a
taser on his chest and back for eight minutes (Doc. 13, pp.
3-4). Defendant Swift and the others proceeded to beat, kick,
and punch Plaintiff, breaking his jaw and nose (Doc. 13, pp.
the tasing and beating, Defendant Swift and other Jackson
County Jail Staff Defendants placed Plaintiff on suicide
watch from April 4 to 11, 2016, and failed to provide him
with any medical treatment for his broken jaw and nose (Doc.
13, pp. 6-7). He claims they took these actions in order to
take Plaintiff's legal materials away from him so they
could cover up prior incidents of excessive force.
Mickulas ruled Plaintiff's grievance as “Not
Valid” (Doc. 13, p. 8). He notes that on March 17,
2016, before going to a court hearing, he was handcuffed,
beaten, and electro-shocked by ten Jackson County deputies
(Doc. 13, p. 9). He was then beaten in front of the judge,
and beaten again when he was returned to his jail cell.
page titled “Part (3.) Motion to Amend, ”
Plaintiff turns to the chronology of events “concerning
Arresting Officer of Carbondale Police Dept. - Name M.
Austin” (Doc. 13, p. 13). While this officer was
identified only as an “Unknown Party” in the
original complaint, Plaintiff now states that Defendant
Austin was the arresting officer (Doc. 13, p. 15). Defendant
Austin showed “favoritism” by charging Plaintiff
with two criminal offenses (battery and disorderly conduct),
even though Christopher Ziolkowski tried to stab Plaintiff
with a knife (Doc. 13, pp. 13-14). Defendant Austin arrested
Plaintiff “without legal justification” (Doc. 13,
then jumps to July 10, 2016, when he complained to Chester
medical staff of pain in his nose due to the incident at the
Jackson County Jail (Doc. 13, p. 21). Chester staff refused
to take an x-ray of Plaintiff's nose.
4” of the document seeks to amend Plaintiff's
request for monetary damages (Doc. 13, p. 27). He requests
compensatory and punitive damages, and his signature is on
the document (Doc. 13, p. 28).
“motion to amend complaint” filed at Doc. 13 may
represent an attempt by Plaintiff to add to his original
complaint in a piecemeal fashion, such that the two documents
together would make up Plaintiff's complaint. This is not
permitted. Consistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
8(a), all claims against all defendants must be set forth in
a single document. Furthermore, when a plaintiff submits an
amended complaint, the new document supersedes and replaces
the original complaint, rendering the original complaint
void. See Flannery v. Recording Indus. Ass'n of
Am., 354 F.3d 632, 638 n.1 (7th Cir. 2004). For these
reasons, Plaintiff cannot proceed in this action on
both the original complaint (Doc. 1) and the
amendment (Doc. 13).
the “motion to amend” at Doc. 13 is sufficient to
stand on its own as an amended complaint, despite being
labeled as a “motion.” It lists several
defendants in the caption, includes factual allegations
against those defendants in the body of the document,
contains a prayer for relief, and bears Plaintiff's
signature. Moreover, unlike the original complaint, it
articulates a civil rights claim that survives review under
the “Motion to Amend Complaint” (Doc. 13) is
GRANTED. The Clerk shall be directed to designate this motion
(Doc. 13) as the First Amended Complaint. This action shall
go forward based on the First Amended Complaint (Doc. 13).
The original complaint (Doc. 1) has been superseded, and
shall not be considered further.
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
on the allegations of the First Amended Complaint (Doc. 13),
the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se
action into the following 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: Fourteenth Amendment excessive force claim against
Defendant Swift, for shocking Plaintiff with a taser and