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West v. Unknown Party

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 5, 2016

KENTES WEST, Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN PARTY, and KENT BROOKMAN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Kentes West is currently incarcerated at the Menard Correctional Center in Menard, Illinois. (Doc. 2 at 1.) Proceeding pro se, West previously filed a Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that separate groups of officials violated his constitutional rights in various ways during his time at Menard. (Id. at 13-14.) West's original Complaint was severed into nine cases, including the above-captioned case. (Doc. 1 at 10.) The instant case concerns whether several unknown parties violated West's constitutional rights by inciting inmates to attack him on July 20, 2015 and whether Defendant Brookman violated West's constitutional rights by imposing disciplinary segregation on him as punishment for West's decision to fight back on July 20, 2015. (Id. at 7.) West seeks money damages. (Doc. 2 at 38.)

         This matter is now before the Court for a review of West's Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under § 1915A, the Court shall review a “complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a government entity.” During the § 1915A review, the court “shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, ” if the complaint “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim” or if it “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune.”

         Background

         Although West's Complaint is thirty-nine pages in length, the narrative of it concerning this severed case is only two pages long. (Doc. 2 at 28-29.) In those pages, West alleges that he visited the prison yard on July 20, 2015 and was attacked by two inmates whom he did not know. (Id. at 28.) West was initially under the impression that another inmate sent the duo to attack him, but he claims that he has now discovered that “staff” was the cause for the last attack. (Id. at 28-29.) West goes on to allege that unspecified “staff” wrote a false ticket against him for West's decision to defend himself during the attack and that Lieutenant Brookman, the chairperson who adjudicated the disciplinary ticket and meted out punishment, rejected West's arguments in mitigation and improperly disciplined him with six months in segregation. (Id.)

         West filed ninety pages of exhibits with his Complaint. While some of those exhibits might be relevant, the Court is unable to easily assess that question, as West has not included any narrative detail about those exhibits in the statement of claims section of his Complaint.

         Discussion

         Turning to the substantive allegations in West's Complaint, the Court finds it proper to divide the claims in the Complaint into the following counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by the Court.

COUNT 1: Unspecified officials at Menard prompted inmates to attack West on July 20, 2015, and did so in retaliation for West's past behavior, in violation of his First and Eighth Amendment rights.
COUNT 2: Unspecified officials at Menard filed a false ticket against West after the fight on July 20, 2015, in violation of West's constitutional rights.
COUNT 3: Brookman improperly prosecuted the disciplinary ticket against West, in violation of West's constitutional rights.

         The Court will conduct a preliminary review of each of these counts in turn.

         Count 1

         West's allegations against the unspecified staff members at Menard seem to concern harassment and retaliation related to the fight that occurred on July 20, 2015. A prisoner can state a claim for verbal harassment in violation of the Eighth Amendment if he alleges that a defendant was personally involved in more extreme instances of harassment, especially harassment that constitutes a grave threat to a prisoner's life or that could subject a prisoner to harm by other inmates. E.g., Hughes v. Farris, 809 F.3d 330, 334 (7th Cir. 2015); Beal v. Foster, 803 F.3d 356, 358 (7th Cir. 2015); Dobbey v. Illinois Dep't of Corrections, 574 F.3d 443, 445 (7th Cir. 2009). A prisoner can state a retaliation claim if he alleges that he engaged in conduct protected by the First Amendment, that he suffered a deprivation ...


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