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Augusta v. Employees of I.D.O.C.

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

December 19, 2016

EMPLOYEES OF I.D.O.C., et al., Defendants.



         The plaintiff, proceeding pro se, a pretrial detainee at the Knox County Jail, was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The case is now before the court for a merit review of plaintiff's claims. The court is required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A to “screen” the plaintiff's complaint, and through such process to identify and dismiss any legally insufficient claim, or the entire action if warranted. A claim is legally insufficient if it “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         In reviewing the complaint, the court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in the plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7thCir. 2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Alexander v. U.S., 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(citation omitted). The court has reviewed the complaint and has also held a merit review hearing in order to give the plaintiff a chance to personally explain his claims to the court.

         Two plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against administrators at the Knox County Jail and a member of the Illinois Department of Corrections' Jail and Detention Standard Unit. Plaintiff Augusta alleges that he is subjected to lockdowns for 28 hours at a time, forced to sleep on “insufficient cement” on a flat mat in his cell, and forced to use a communal bathroom in front of other inmates when allowed out of his cell. As a result, he alleges injuries to his back, legs, and arms for having to endure these conditions for more than eight (8) months. Plaintiff Augusta also alleges he is not provided with a sufficient amount of food, causing him to lose 40 pounds. He alleges commissary is expensive. Plaintiff August alleges that he has been denied visitation with his family because there are not enough computer screens to accommodate all inmates, copies of grievances because the grievance system is now electronic, magazines and newspapers, and a telephone call with his lawyer. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that he is charged $5/day for a housing fee and has not been reimbursed for the times he was later found not guilty.

         Plaintiff Charles has not yet paid the filing fee or filed a petition to proceed in forma pauperis. The plaintiffs state they are filing a class action lawsuit; however, prisoners proceeding pro se are not allowed to act as class representatives. See Huddleston v. Duckworth, 97 F.R.D. 512, 514-55 (N.D. Ind. 1983). When a case has multiple prisoner plaintiffs, each plaintiff must submit a petition to proceed in forma pauperis or pay the $400 filing fee. Boriboune v. Berge, 391 F.3d 852, 855-56 (7th Cir. 2004). Plaintiff Charles alleges medical staff has refused to allow him to see a doctor for his back injuries and a dentist for his dental problems. Plaintiff Charles also alleges that he has been placed on lockdown with no explanation.

         Plaintiff Augusta states a claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement for the allegations that he is subjected to 28-hour lockdowns with nothing but a flat mat to sleep on for 8 months. Plaintiff Augusta also states a claim for the alleged lack of sufficient quantities of food, but not as it relates to the type of food or the manner in which it is served. Complaints of cold, poorly prepared, or even food that occasionally contains foreign objects do not rise to the level of constitutional deprivation. See Drake v. Velasco, 207 F.Supp.2d 809, 812 (N.D. Ill. 2002) (citing Hamm v. DeKalb County, 774 F.2d 1567, 1575 (11th Cir. 1985)).

         Plaintiff Augusta does not state a claim for the denial of visitation because of the lack of computers to accommodate every inmate, or the forced use of communal bathrooms, as such conditions could be ordinarily contemplated by confinement within the jail, and therefore not protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. See Kentucky Dep't of Corr. v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 461 (1989). In addition, plaintiff has no constitutional right to a grievance process and the fact that the jail has chosen to provide one via electronic means does not implicate constitutional concerns. Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1430 (7th Cir. 1996). To the extent that plaintiff alleges he was denied a telephone call to his attorney, plaintiff alleges only that he would not be able to call during his attorney's office hours. No inference arises that Plaintiff Augusta's criminal case was adversely affected as a result.

         Plaintiff Charles states a plausible claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, however, his claims should be severed because his claims arise from a separate set of facts. Plaintiff Charles will also have to pay the filing fee in full or file a petition to proceed in forma pauperis.

         Finally, defendants Employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections, Mike Funk, and Employees of the Knox County Board will be dismissed. Neither plaintiff is incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections and Plaintiff makes no allegations that members of the Knox County Board personally caused his constitutional deprivation. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009); Vance v. Peters, 97 F.3d 987, 991 (7th Cir. 1996).


         1. Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court finds that the Plaintiff Augusta states an Eighth Amendment claim for conditions of confinement against defendants David Clague and Lou Glossip. Any additional claims shall not be included in the case, except at the court's discretion on motion by a party for good cause shown or pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15.

         2. This case is now in the process of service. The plaintiff is advised to wait until counsel has appeared for the defendants before filing any motions, in order to give the defendants notice and an opportunity to respond to those motions. Motions filed before defendants' counsel has filed an appearance will generally be denied as premature. The plaintiff need not submit any evidence to the court at this time, unless otherwise directed by the court.

         3. The court will attempt service on the defendants by mailing each defendant a waiver of service. The defendants have 60 days from the date the waiver is sent to file an answer. If the defendants have not filed answers or appeared through counsel within 90 days of the entry of this order, the plaintiff may file a motion requesting the status of service. After the defendants have been served, the court will enter an order setting discovery and dispositive motion deadlines.

         4. With respect to a defendant who no longer works at the address provided by the plaintiff, the entity for whom that defendant worked while at that address shall provide to the clerk said defendant's current work address, or, if not known, said defendant's forwarding address. This information shall be used only for effectuating service. Documentation of forwarding addresses shall ...

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