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Conway v. Gooden

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 2, 2017

GREGORY CONWAY, #N83890, Plaintiff,


          STACI M. YANDLE U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff Gregory Conway, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”), brings this pro se action for alleged violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff brings claims against officials at both Western Illinois Correctional Center (“Western Illinois”) and Pinckneyville under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff names 9 known defendants and 3 unknown “Doe” defendants, one of which has since been identified. Plaintiff requests monetary compensation and a declaratory judgment. (Doc. 1, pp. 30-35). He has since moved for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction requiring him “to be kept separate from Defendants Lieutenant Pearce, Correctional Officer Walla, Correctional Officer Meracle [and] Correctional Officer Estes” and ordering Plaintiff's transfer to a different correctional institution “as soon as possible.” (Doc. 10, p. 1).

         This 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).

         As a part of screening, the Court is also allowed to sever unrelated claims against different defendants into separate lawsuits. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). 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. Id. Consistent with George, unrelated claims will be severed into new cases, given new case numbers, and assessed separate filing fees.

         The Complaint

         Western Illinois

         According to the Complaint, Plaintiff was sexually assaulted by a Western Illinois corrections officer who is not identified as a defendant in this action. When Plaintiff reported the assault, the Western Illinois staff “began engaging in acts of retaliation.” (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). Defendant Qury allegedly conducted an internal affairs investigation after Plaintiff was attacked by his cellmate on April 13, 2015. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8). During his interview with Plaintiff, Qury called Plaintiff a troublemaker. Qury made it clear that he was referring to “all the grievances” Plaintiff filed to complain about the corrections officer who allegedly sexually assaulted him and not the fighting for which Plaintiff was under investigation. Id. Qury asked Plaintiff: “Do you really want to go down this road? Keep it up I guarantee your [sic] going to lose, because once your [sic] labeled a trouble maker its [sic] all downhill from there.” (Doc. 1, p. 8).

         Although Plaintiff and his cellmate were both punished for fighting, Plaintiff was given 90 days of segregation and a disciplinary transfer while his cellmate received only 30 days in segregation for the same offense. Id. Plaintiff claims this was an act of retaliation by Qury. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). Plaintiff also claims that his medically prescribed eyeglasses were taken away from him at Western Illinois “as retaliation, ” and that he was forced to live in inhumane living conditions for 38 days before being transferred. (Doc. 1, p. 9).

         Plaintiff further alleges that while he was getting on the transfer bus at Western Illinois on May 21, 2015, Defendant Gooden said to him: “I hope you don't think your [sic] getting away do you? Trouble-maker because something is waiting on you. . . . Grievances are not going to help you.” (Doc. 1, pp. 9-10). Gooden then told Defendant Johnson: “This is inmate Conway here[.] [H]e is a trouble-maker[.] [Y]ou guys show him how we deal with trouble makers.” (Doc. 1, p. 10). In response, Johnson allegedly told Plaintiff that “we got a way of dealing with trouble-makers at Pinckneyville.” (Doc. 1, p. 11). Plaintiff claims that these statements by Gooden constitute acts of retaliation. (Doc. 1, p. 10).


         After his arrival at Pinckneyville, “Plaintiff was written a disciplinary report for Dangerous Disturbance and Disobeying a Direct Order by C/O Johnson.” (Doc. 1, p. 11). Plaintiff claims that both of these charges were false and were issued in retaliation for Plaintiff's grievances and sexual assault allegations at Western Illinois. Id. When Plaintiff received the disciplinary report on May 22, 2015, he sought to include several inmates as witnesses at his adjustment committee hearing by writing their names and inmate numbers on the relevant form. (Doc. 1, pp. 12-13).

         When he was called to the adjustment committee for a hearing on May 24, 2015, the hearing officers, Defendants Lieutenant John Doe and Myers, refused to call the witnesses, claiming it was too late. (Doc. 1, pp. 13-14). Lieutenant John Doe then allegedly said: “Their [sic] right you are a trouble-maker. Guilty as charged now get out of here.” (Doc. 1, p. 14). Plaintiff received 30 days in segregation for these allegedly fabricated charges. (Doc. 1, p. 12). Plaintiff alleges these acts by Lieutenant John Doe and Myers were retaliatory and violated Plaintiff's due process rights. (Doc. 1, p. 14).

         From May 28, 2015 until July 29, 2015, Plaintiff sent 8 request slips to Defendant Brummel, an eye doctor, for his medically prescribed eyeglasses. (Doc. 1, pp. 15-16). Brummel ignored the requests. Plaintiff alleges that Brummel acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment when he disregarded Plaintiff's need for eyeglasses. (Doc. 1, p. 16).

         On July 14, 2015, Plaintiff was allegedly attacked, punched in the head and face and stabbed in the neck, chest, back, arm, and leg by his mentally unstable cellmate. Prior to the attack, Plaintiff told Defendant Estes that his cellmate “was constantly threatening to kill” him. (Doc. 1, pp. 16-17, 23). On the day of the attack, Plaintiff told Estes that his cellmate had brandished an object that looked like a knife and told Plaintiff he planned to kill him that day. Id. In response, Estes mocked Plaintiff, saying “[t]he Trouble-Maker needs help, write a grievance.” (Doc. 1, pp. 17-18).

         Plaintiff also told Defendant Pearce of his cellmate's threats and weapon. Before walking away, Pearce stated: “The big bad trouble-maker is not worried about this little crazy guy is [sic] you? You should've thought about that before you started slinging all that ink all over those grievances.” (Doc. 1, p. 19). Plaintiff also claims he repeatedly told Defendants Walla and Meracle that his cellmate was suffering from mental illness and “was constantly threatening to kill the Plaintiff.” (Doc. 1, p. 21). According to Plaintiff, in response Walla would typically say something akin to “we don't help trouble-makers.” Id. Similarly, Meracle would call him a trouble-maker and “make an obscene comment then walk away.” (Doc. 1, p. 22). Plaintiff claims these actions by Estes, Pearce, Walla and Meracle were taken in retaliation and demonstrated deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's personal health and safety. (Doc. 1, pp. 18-23).

         Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Assistant Nurse Jane Doe on the day of the attack and given some ointment for his stab wounds. (Doc. 1, pp. 23-24, 25-26). Assistant Nurse Jane Doe then “tried to render medical services she [wa]s unqualified to give” and “never followed the procedures required for the Plaintiff to receive the correct examination and treatment.” Plaintiff maintains that this constitutes deliberate indifference. (Doc. 1, pp. 25-26).

         Plaintiff was also informed that he would be called the next day to see a doctor. (Doc. 1, p. 26). Despite his swollen face, blackened and bruised eyes, swollen lip, severe migraine, body soreness, dizzy spells, “mental and physical trauma” and “constantly bleeding” stab wound, Plaintiff was not seen by a doctor as promised. (Doc. 1, pp. 24, 26). Plaintiff submitted request slips to see a doctor for 11 days straight after the attack and was denied all treatment. Id.

         According to the Complaint, Defendant Pinckneyville Correctional Center Healthcare Administrator John Doe exhibits deliberate indifference to prisoners' serious medical needs by allowing “systemic deficiencies in staffing or procedures” to make “unnecessary suffering happen.” (Doc. 1, p. 25). Plaintiff also alleges that, under Health Care Administrator John Doe, “prisoners are unable to make their medical problems known to medical staff” and that“[d]isorganization and dysfunction in a medical program can amount to deliberate indifference if it prevents prisoners from receiving necessary care.” Id.

         Plaintiff now claims that “[a]ll the defendants except for Eye Doctor Alan Trummel, Nurses Assistant Jane Doe and Health Care Administrator John Doe referred to the Plaintiff as a ‘Trouble-Maker' before they engaged in violations of the Plaintiff's constitutional rights.” (Doc. 1, pp. 26-27). He was never referred to in this manner until Qury conducted the Internal Affairs investigation into the fight Plaintiff had with his cellmate at Western Illinois. Id. This is allegedly evidence that the defendants were “engaging in a conspiracy to inflict punishment on [him] for being sexually assaulted . . . and writing grievances.” Id. This “campaign of harassment” has allegedly “lasted for two years and continues to this day.” (Doc. 1, p. 28).


         Based 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. ...

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