United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
DAVID R. BENTZ, #S03210, Plaintiff,
SHANE GREGSON, JENNIFER CLENDENIN, DIA RODELY, NATHANIAL MAUE, WILLIAM QUALLS, ADAM TOPE, JACOB GUETERSLOH, MICHAEL SCHNICKER, RYAN SADLER, TINA MONROE, TYLER JAIMET, CAMBELL, BENIFIELD, CONWAY, DONALD LINDENBERG, MICHAEL SAMUEL, RAYMOND ALLEN, KENT BROOKMAN, MONJIE, KRISTA ALLSUP, MARK PHOENIX, KIMBERLY BUTLER, LASHBROOK, DAVID DWIGHT, LINDA CARTER, JOHN TROST, J. FOSS, JAMES BUTLER, ANGILA CRAIN, AMMIE LANG, SUSAN KULIK KULIS, S. MCGLORN, DR. NEWBOLD, MORGAN TEAS, JENNIFER WHITLEY, JANE DOE 1, JOHN DOE 1, JANE DOE 2, JANE DOE 3, JOHN DOE 2, ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, WEXFORD HEALTH SERVICES, MENARD CORRECTIONAL CENTER, ILLINOIS STATE POLICE DEPARTMENT, and UNKNOWN PARTIES, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HERNDON, District Judge:
David R. Bentz, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at
Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings
this pro se action for alleged violations of his
constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 2).
Bentz's claims appear to stem from two distinct
issues-the excessive use of force by prison guards at Menard,
and deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical needs
stemming therefrom, and the repeated violations of
Plaintiff's right to access the courts by Menard's
library staff. Plaintiff makes numerous claims in relation to
these two issues. In connection with these claims, he names
35 individuals, various private and public entities, and
several Doe defendants. Notably, all but 5 of the named
individuals and all of the named private and public entities
were defendants in a nearly identical lawsuit, Bentz v.
Maue, Case No. 16-cv-854-NJR (S.D. Ill. Sept. 22, 2016),
filed by Plaintiff on July 27, 2016. Bentz v. Maue
was dismissed with prejudice on September 22, 2016, well
before the instant lawsuit was filed. Id. at Doc. 8.
In the instant action, Plaintiff seeks monetary compensation,
a declaratory judgment, and injunctive relief. (Doc. 2, pp.
39-41). Specifically, Plaintiff seeks an order requiring the
prison to provide him with adequate medical care, a full
investigation and prosecution of his alleged assailants, and
access to the courts. Id. Plaintiff also seeks a
temporary restraining order that would “prevent any
future retaliation and/or assaults” of Plaintiff by
Maue, Conway, Qualls, Tope, and Guetersloh. (Doc. 2, p. 41).
case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section
1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner
complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). The Court is required to 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).
part of screening, the Court is also allowed to sever
unrelated claims against different defendants into separate
lawsuits. In George v. Smith, the Seventh Circuit
emphasized that the practice of severance is important,
“not only to prevent the sort of morass” produced
by multi-claim, multi-defendant suits “but also to
ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees”
under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. George, 507
F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). Severed counts will be divided
into new actions, given new case numbers, and assessed filing
alleges that on May 11, 2014, Qualls, Tope, Guetersloh, Maue,
and multiple Unknown Parties beat him by punching him,
grabbing him, slamming his head face first into the wall,
strangling him, and picking him up by the neck. (Doc. 2, pp.
at 6-7). Sadler, W. Monroe, T. Monroe, Schnicker, and other
John Does were allegedly present for this use of force and
did not intervene. Id. After the alleged assault,
Plaintiff repeatedly requested medical care for a
“fractured jaw, chronic pain, and other medical needs
to . . . Plaintiff's neck and jaw areas” and sought
to talk to someone in internal affairs for fear of his life.
(Doc. 2, pp. 7-10). Plaintiff admits that he filed a lawsuit,
Bentz v. Qualls, 14-cv-562-MJR-SCW (S.D. Ill. May
13, 2016), seeking treatment of his medical needs and relief
from “the immediate threat to . . . Plaintiff's
life as a result of defendant's actions.” (Doc. 2,
p. 10). He filed Bentz v. Qualls on May 16, 2014
against several of the defendants in this case, including
Tope, Guetersloh, Monroe, Maue, Brookman, Samuel, Qualls,
Allen, Schnicker, Sadler, and Butler. Bentz v.
Qualls, 14-cv-562-MJR-SCW (S.D. Ill. May 13, 2016).
Plaintiff's claims in Bentz v. Qualls arise from
the same incident as the instant case and include claims of
excessive force and deliberate indifference to serious
medical needs. Id. at Doc. 1, p. 6. Bentz v.
Qualls is ongoing, with a trial set for March 6, 2017.
the alleged assault in May 2014, Plaintiff claims he received
threats from various defendants and did not receive the
medical care he sought for his injuries. (See Doc.
2, pp. 13, 15). In fact, Plaintiff did not see a doctor for
his injuries sustained in May until October 3, 2014. (Doc. 2,
p. 16). In the interim, Plaintiff was allegedly assaulted by
Lindenberg and another corrections officer on August 29,
2014, while waiting to see a doctor, and this incident became
the subject of another lawsuit filed by Plaintiff, Bentz
v. Lindenberg, 15-cv-121-NJR-DGW (S.D. Ill. Feb. 5,
2015). Bentz v. Lindenberg also shares several
defendants with the present case including Lindenberg,
Butler, Lashbrook, Monju, and Trost. Id. Trost
scheduled Plaintiff for X-rays of his injuries, which were
done on October 10, 2014. (Doc. 2, p. 16). Plaintiff also
received dental X-rays in June 2015, which were ordered by
Newbold. (Doc. 2, p 18).
allegedly continued to receive threats from corrections
officers throughout this time period for filing lawsuits and
grievances against them and their colleagues. (Doc. 2, pp.
19-26, 28-29). As a result of harassment by Conway
specifically, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint in one of
his lawsuits in January 2016 to include Conway as a
defendant. (Doc. 2, p. 24). Plaintiff contends that, due to
e-filing and law library issues, he was forced to file this
amended complaint multiple times. (Doc. 2, pp. 24-26).
Throughout this entire time period, Plaintiff allegedly
continuously requested medical care for his injuries, was
seen off and on by nurses and doctors, received multiple
X-rays, and was at times provided medication for his pain.
(Doc. 2). Notably, all of the aforementioned information in
the Complaint in the instant case was included,
word-for-word, in Plaintiff's complaint in Bentz v.
Maue, Case No. 16-cv-854-NJR (S.D. Ill. Sept. 22, 2016),
which was filed in this District in July 2016 and was
dismissed with prejudice September 22, 2016.
Complaint in the instant case consists of photocopied pages
from Bentz v. Maue with three new pages in the
statement of claim. (Doc. 2, pp. 30-32). In these pages,
Plaintiff alleges his access to the courts has been
unconstitutionally and consistently impeded by the law
library staff at Menard, including Gregson, Clendenin,
Rodely, Teas, Whitley, and other Unknown Parties. (Doc. 2, p.
30). Plaintiff alleges that he filed grievances regarding the
law library's violations of his right to access the
courts as early as January 28, 2016, well before Bentz v.
Maue was filed. (Doc. 2, p. 30). Plaintiff also alleges
difficulties with the law library staff resulted in the
dismissal of Bentz v. Maue. (Doc. 2, p. 31).
According to the Complaint, the library staff initially
failed to file Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed in forma
pauperis (“IFP Motion”) in Bentz v.
Maue, but after Plaintiff received an order of the Court
demanding Plaintiff pay a filing fee in full or file an IFP
Motion with a certified trust fund statement, the library
staff filed Plaintiff's IFP Motion before the Court took
any adverse action against Plaintiff. Id. The Court
denied Plaintiff's IFP Motion on August 29, 2016, with a
chance to re-file by September 12, 2016, because it was
handwritten and excluded important information that is
requested on the standard IFP form. (Doc. 2, p. 31; Doc. 2-4,
p. 10). Plaintiff then filed a Motion for Contempt of Court
regarding issues with the law library on September 2, 2016.
(Doc. 2, p. 31).
alleges he provided the law library with an IPF Motion on a
court form on September 9, 2016 in response to the August 29,
2016 order, which Gregson stamped as having been filed that
day, but then refused to file. (Doc. 2, p. 31). Plaintiff did
not provide a copy of this allegedly completed motion.
Further, Plaintiff admits that he did not file his trust fund
statement until September 16, 2016, 4 days past the
court-imposed deadline. Id. On September 22, 2016,
the Court dismissed Bentz v. Maue for multiple
reasons. (Doc. 2-4, p. 30). Plaintiff falsely alleges that
the library staff is squarely to blame for this dismissal
because they refused to file “several of this
Plaintiff's court ordered motions.” (Doc. 2, p.
31). In fact, after review of the dismissal order, it is
clear the Court focused primarily on the fact that
Plaintiff's initial IFP Motion contained false
allegations regarding his financial status - a fact the Court
was not aware of until Plaintiff filed his trust fund account
statement well past the deadline. (Doc. 2-4, p. 30). The
Court also indicated in its dismissal order that it never
received a properly completed IFP Motion from Plaintiff,
despite its several warnings to Plaintiff that failure to
provide one, along with a trust fund statement, would result
in dismissal. Id.
on the allegations, the Court finds it convenient to divide
the pro se Complaint into the following enumerated
claims. 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 regarding their merit.
Count 1: Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against
Qualls, Tope, Guetersloh, Maue, and multiple Unknown Parties
for assaulting Plaintiff on May 11, 2014;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against
Lindenberg for assaulting ...