United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief District Judge
currently incarcerated at Jacksonville Correctional Center,
brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983. The harms Plaintiff Brooks complains
of occurred while he was incarcerated at Menard Correctional
Center (“Menard”). Brooks alleges that the
Defendants failed to protect him from attack by a former
cellmate, and failed to appropriately respond to his
grievance about the attack in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. In connection with his claims, Brooks specifically
names Defendants Lt. Mich, Kenneth Donnals (officer), and Kim
Butler (warden). Brooks seeks monetary compensation, and
injunctive relief. The operative pleading before the Court is
Brooks's First Amended Complaint (Doc. 12), which he
filed in a timely fashion after this Court dismissed his
initial complaint for failure to tie the allegations in the
complaint to specific defendants. 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.
September 24, 2015, Brooks was awakened by his cellmate, D.
Sankey, slamming things around the cell (Doc. 12 at 6).
Neighboring inmates asked Sankey to quiet down, which
resulted in the exchange of foul language (Id.).
Sankey's conduct gave Brooks cause for concern, so he
wrote on a slip of paper that he was in fear for his safety
and attempted to pass the slip thru the cell door to on-duty
officer, Kenneth Donnals (Id.). Donnals told him to
give the slip to Officer Mich. on his way to the chow line
followed the instructions to give the slip to Mich. and was
met with mockery (Id.). Mich. allegedly took the
slip and read it aloud, falsely stating that it said
Brooks's cellie was raping him (Id.). Upon
returning from morning chow, Brooks again inquired with Mich.
about his fear of Sankey and was told to just go to his cell
(Id.). Brooks followed the direction (Id.
at 7). A short while later Defendant Donnals locked Sankey
and Brooks in their cell and took their identification cards
conduct apparently angered Sankey, who in turn started
beating Brooks with a fan. Brooks managed to get the fan
away, but Sankey then procured a razor, got Brooks on the
floor, and began cutting him. Neighboring cellies yelled for
help to no avail. Sankey eventually tired of beating Brooks
(Id.). A few hours later Defendant Donnals reported
to the cell to check on Brooks and Sankey per a tip from an
unknown individual (Id.). Donnals discovered that
Brooks and Sankey were bloody (Id.).
was sent to the medical unit for care (Id.). Medical
notes, dated September 24, 2015, reflect injuries to Brooks
and note that some were possibly due to a razor (Id.
at 12-13). The notes recommend certain blood tests at 3, 6,
and 9 months after the fight (Id.). Test results are
appended for approximately the 3 and 6 month mark after the
fight, but there is nothing for the 9 month mark
(Id. at 10-12).
disciplinary report reflects that Brooks received a ticket
for fighting on September 24, 2015 (Id. at 9).
Brooks contested the circumstances that led to the fight via
grievance (Id. at 10). And a grievance officer's
report, signed by Defendant Butler, rejected any appeal of
the disciplinary ticket (Id. at 11).
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
on the allegations of the complaint, 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: Eighth Amendment failure to protect
claim against Defendant Donnals for failing to act upon
Brooks's statement that he ...