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Watsonn v. Dodd

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 12, 2017

KENNETH WATSON, Plaintiff,
v.
C/O DODD, C/O MCBRIDE, LT JACKSON, C/O ANDERTON, C/O NALLEY, NURSE MCCAIN, C/O APARICIO, MICHAEL SANDERS, MAJOR PLOTTS, and JASON GARNETT, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Kenneth Watson, an inmate in Pontiac Correctional Center (“Pontiac”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that allegedly took place at Big Muddy Correctional Center (“Big Muddy”). According to the Complaint, Plaintiff was attacked and sexually assaulted by defendant corrections officers Dodd and McBride, and his efforts at obtaining medical care and reporting the incident were prevented or ignored by the other defendants. (Doc. 1). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which reads:

(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         An 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 any reasonable person would find meritless. 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. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff claims he was unjustifiably attacked by corrections officers McBride and Dodd on July 17, 2016. (Doc. 1, p. 16). According to the Complaint, both Dodd and McBride beat Plaintiff in the shower, and Dodd grabbed and squeezed Plaintiff's penis and testicles “very hard.” Id. Despite his cries for help, Plaintiff alleges Jackson and Plotts observed this attack without intervening to assist Plaintiff. Id. Anderton was also allegedly present during the altercation. Id. Plaintiff claims Dodd and McBride then dragged him by a lead cuff to a “chuckhole” where they forced his wrists through and yanked on his cuffs “with extreme force” causing the cuffs to cut deep into his wrists. Id. When Anderton removed the cuffs, Jackson allegedly told Plaintiff to undress for a strip search. Id. According to the Complaint, Plaintiff refused this command because Dodd and McBride, his alleged assailants, were still present, he “wasn't getting naked in front of 2 men that just beat [him] and sexually assaulted [him], ” and he wanted to see a nurse and PREA[1] to report his sexual assault. (Doc. 1, pp. 16-17). Plaintiff allegedly complied and removed his clothing after Plotts threatened him with a “Tact Team” and Dodd and McBride left the area. (Doc. 1, p. 17).

         Plaintiff claims he told Nalley about the alleged sexual assault. Id. At this point, Plaintiff allegedly requested to see a nurse and PREA and to be allowed to file a police report in Nalley's office on Dodd and McBride for the attack. (Doc. 1, pp. 17-18). Nalley allegedly told Plaintiff to go to his cell and that he would return for him in a few minutes. (Doc. 1, p. 18). Plaintiff complied but allegedly never heard from Nalley again. Id. Plaintiff was instead visited approximately one hour later by McCain, a nurse, and Jackson. Id. Plaintiff told them both about the alleged attack and sexual assault. Id. McCain told Plaintiff she did not see any injuries, though Plaintiff alleges she did see injuries, at least deep cuts on his wrists from the cuffs, and “chose to protect her co-workers/friends and not document [his] injuries or treat them.” (Doc. 1, p. 19). Plaintiff further alleges McCain failed in her duty to report his accusation of sexual assault against Dodd. Id.

         Within one day of the alleged attack, Plaintiff claims that Aparicio and Sanders met with him in their office for an Adjustment Committee hearing on his “ticket.” (Doc. 1, pp. 19-20). Plaintiff allegedly told them everything that had happened to him, including the sexual assault and all of the people he told about the events after the fact. Id. Despite Plaintiff's alleged request to Aparicio and Sanders to be able to see PREA and file a complaint against Dodd and McBride, and Aparicio and Sanders telling Plaintiff someone would come to talk to him about it, this never occurred, and Aparicio and Sanders allegedly misquoted and underreported Plaintiff's statements to them in their Adjustment Committee report. (Doc. 1, p. 20). For example, their report indicated that Plaintiff refused to uncuff at one point, when Plaintiff says he never told them he refused to uncuff, only strip. Id. Plaintiff claims they misreported his statements to them “in order to make things fit their (IDOC) agenda and find [him] guilty of something [he] didn't do.” Id.

         As warden, having the final say on the report of the Adjustment Committee, Garnett also allegedly “tried to cover everything up and make [Plaintiff] ¶ 6 months for some . . . tickets” to protect Dodd and McBride, despite the fact that Plaintiff's allegations of sexual assault were included on the report. (Doc. 1, p. 21). Plaintiff also filed three grievances and submitted several requests at Big Muddy to Healthcare, PREA, mental health, and the warden's office, which went unanswered. (Doc. 1, p. 22). The ARB also allegedly denied Plaintiff's grievances, without a proper investigation, despite his well-documented allegation of sexual assault. (Doc.1, pp. 22-23). Instead, Plaintiff claims they “altered [his] words and made [Plaintiff] look like [he] said things [he] didn't to fit a certain agenda which is to protect an officer.” (Doc. 1, p. 23). Plaintiff allegedly was not seen by PREA until September 14, 2016, when he was in Pontiac. (Doc. 1, p. 24). Plaintiff claims that, had the PREA Mandate been followed when he was at Big Muddy, the bruising on his penis, testicles, and chest and the cuts on his wrists from the alleged attack would have been more visible, and his claims “could have been substantiated more clearly.” Id. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief in the form of a transfer to Graham Correctional Center and placement in a Correctional Industry Job for the rest of his sentence, a body camera to be worn by IDOC employees at all times, each defendant to be fired, and criminal charges to be filed, presumably against his alleged attackers. (Doc. 1, p. 34).

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into six 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.

Count 1 - Plaintiff was subjected to excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment when he was unjustifiably attacked by Dodd and McBride on July 17, 2016.
Count 2 - Anderton, Jackson, and Plotts failed to intervene and protect Plaintiff by failing to put an end to the excessive force used against Plaintiff by Dodd and McBride on July 17, 2016.
Count 3 - Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs by failing to treat and/or failing to ensure treatment of the cuts on his wrist, his stomach pain, and the bruising on his penis, testicles, and chest after he sustained these injuries while being attacked on July 17, 2016.
Count 4 - Plaintiff was subjected to retaliation in the form of a transfer to Pontiac, Plaintiff being found guilty for “bogus” tickets, and Plaintiff having to do “seg time” ...

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