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Donaldson v. Baldwin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 8, 2017

ANTHONY DONALDSON, No. B88413, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN BALDWIN, JACQUELINE LASHBROOK BETSY SPILLER, ASSISTANT WARDEN EDWARDS, MAJOR ALLEN, MAJOR CLELLEND, MAJOR ADAMS, CAROL MCBRIDE, TERRI CHAPMAN, LT. PEARCE, COUNSELOR HARTMEN, WEXFORD HEALTH CORPS. CHRISTINE BROWN, DR. SHAH, MARSHA HILL, and MAJOR MALCOLM, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge.

         Plaintiff Anthony Donaldson, an inmate in Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The bulk of Plaintiff's claims stem from an altercation Plaintiff had with a correctional officer identified as Major Allen. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from John Baldwin (director, IDOC), Jacqueline Lashbrook (warden), Betsy Spiller (assistant warden), Edwards (assistant warden), Allen (major), Clellend (major), Adams (major), Carol McBride (lieutenant), Terri Chapman (sergeant), Pearce (lieutenant), Hartman (counselor), Wexford Health Corps. (corporate healthcare provider), Christine Brown (healthcare administrator), Shah (doctor), Marsha Hill (nurse), and Malcolm (major). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(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

         According to the Complaint, on July 18, 2015, Plaintiff was assaulted by Allen (“July 18 Incident”). (Doc. 1, p. 10, ¶ 1). Specifically, Plaintiff states he was asleep in his bunk when he began to have a seizure. Id. Plaintiff's cell mate, Aaron Petre, alerted staff to Plaintiff's condition. Id. When Plaintiff awoke from his seizure, he was disoriented and realized he was on the floor with his hands behind his back. (Doc. 1, p. 10, ¶ 2). Plaintiff heard an unidentified officer indicate that Plaintiff was waking up. (Doc. 1, p. 10, ¶ 3). At that point, Allen approached Plaintiff while “hollering a whole bunch of stuff.” Id. Plaintiff was still disoriented and was unable to fully appreciate his surroundings. Id. Allen instructed two unidentified prison officials to get on both sides of Plaintiff and stand him up. Id. As Plaintiff was being pulled up, Allen continued to yell at Plaintiff. Id. Allen then said “fuck this” and punched Plaintiff in the left side of his face, knocking him unconscious. Id. When Plaintiff regained consciousness, he was in pain and observed Allen standing over him. (Doc. 1, p. 10, ¶ 4). Allen told Plaintiff if he lifted his head his “whole fucking face would be in the pavement.” Id. Allen continued to threaten Plaintiff and instructed an officer to take “[Plaintiff's] ass to healthcare.” Id. Plaintiff was fearful of Allen, which prompted him to say to the “escorting officer, ” “Please get me out of here before he continue to further hurt me.” Id. Plaintiff does not expressly state whether he was taken to healthcare at this point in time. However, throughout his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he has been denied medical care for injuries he received during the July 18 Incident. (Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶ 7).

         Sometime thereafter, Plaintiff asked Hartman, a counselor, to obtain grievance forms for Plaintiff regarding the July 18 Incident. (Doc. 1, p. 10, ¶ 5). Counselor Hartman failed to respond to this request. Id. As a result, on August 1, 2015, Plaintiff began a hunger strike. Id. Plaintiff also spoke with Pearce and Clellend, informing them that he feared for his life and believed someone in the facility was going to kill him. Id.

         After declaring his intent to begin a hunger strike, Plaintiff was transferred to a cell in the segregation unit. (Doc. 1, p. 10 ¶ 6; Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶ 11). The water in Plaintiff's new cell was shut off. Id. Plaintiff remained in that cell, without running water, for 5 days. Id. Plaintiff does not specify who was responsible for shutting off the water in his cell.

         After 3 days of being confined to a cell in the segregation unit with no running water (and 3 days into his hunger strike), Plaintiff was visited by Spiller and Adams. Id. Spiller and Adams came to Plaintiff's cell to discuss the hunger strike. Id. Plaintiff explained his “situation” to both Defendants and informed them that his water had been shut off. Id. Specifically, Plaintiff stated he was feeling light headed, suffering from blurry vision, and believed he was going to pass out from dehydration. (Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶ 6). Spiller responded by stating “so what you're on a hunger strike what makes you think I care?” Id. Plaintiff also stated that he had been assaulted by Allen, he had been denied medical care for the injuries he sustained as a result of Allen's assault, and his requests for grievance forms were being ignored by Hartman. (Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶ 7). In response to Plaintiff's allegations, Spiller said “You're not supposed to feel safe here. This is prison. This is how you pay society back.” Id. Spiller then walked away. (Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶ 8).

         The following day, Hill and Chapman arrived at Plaintiff's cell with 3 trays of food. (Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶ 9). Defendants began dumping the food in a trash can and one of them said “ya see you stupid fuck we don't give a damn about you or if you ever eat again.” Id. Hill and Chapman returned the next day. (Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶ 10). Plaintiff was asked to provide a urine sample. Id. Chapman, once again, knocked over food trays and stated “What, you still think we give a damn about you?” Id. At that point, Chapman walked away. Id.

         Shah visited Plaintiff on the sixth day of his hunger strike. (Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶ 11). At this time, Plaintiff was still housed in the in a cell without running water. Id. Shah had Plaintiff transferred to a cell in the healthcare unit (“HCU”). Id. After being transferred to the HCU, Plaintiff continued his hunger strike. (Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶¶ 11-13). Plaintiff was visited by Spiller who made comments regarding Plaintiff's continued hunger strike. (Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶ 13).

         On August 11, 2015, Lashbrook, Clellend, and Adams arrived at Plaintiff's HCU cell. (Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶ 14). Plaintiff again reported that he had been assaulted by Allen, denied medical care for injuries sustained during the assault, and denied access to the grievance process. (Doc. 1, p. 12, ¶ 14). Lashbrook responded by saying “he's not supposed to issue out grievances to offenders seeking to write grievances on my officers.” Id.

         Several times during his stay in the HCU, Plaintiff spoke with his therapist regarding his anxiety and emotional state. (Doc. 1, p. 12, ¶ 15). Plaintiff's therapist informed him there was a process that had to be followed and maybe, if he would end his hunger strike, she could convince the proper officials to review Plaintiff's allegations. Id.

         On August 18, 2015, as Plaintiff's hunger strike continued, he was visited by Lashbrook, Clelland, and Malcolm. (Doc. 1, p. 12, ¶ 16). Lashbrook stated “You're real adamant about this hunger strike. You still waiting on Springfield? You know don't nobody care if you die.” Id.

         During the hunger strike, Plaintiff was also visited by Edwards. (Doc. 1, p. 12, ¶ 17). Edwards told Plaintiff that no matter how long his hunger strike continued, Edwards would not contact Springfield and would not instruct his staff to clear Plaintiff as a hunger strike patient. Id. Edwards told Plaintiff to “just go ahead and continue to hurt yourself.” Id.

         Plaintiff further alleges that Brown and Wexford failed to provide him with the proper protocols for a hunger strike patient and failed to provide appropriate medical care. (Doc. 1, p. 12, ¶ 18). Plaintiff indicates the hunger strike lasted a total of 24 days and during that time he was under Brown's watch. Id.

         On January 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding the July 18 Incident. (Doc. 1, p. 13, ¶ 19). The grievance was ignored and Plaintiff reported the same to Spiller and Lashbrook. (Doc. 1, p. 13, ¶¶ 20-22).

         On February 13, 2016, Plaintiff declared a hunger strike to two correctional officers[1] and Webb. (Doc. 1, p. 13, ¶ 23). Plaintiff does not provide any further allegations or details in relation to the hunger strike initiated in February 2016.

         On February 28, 2016, Plaintiff informed Spiller that he was in need of a crisis team and a phone call because he had just learned that his grandparents had passed away. (Doc. 1, p. 13, ¶ 24). The request was denied. Id.

         On March 24, 2016, Plaintiff was called for an interview with internal affairs regarding the July 18 Incident. (Doc. 1, p. 13, ¶ 25).

         On March 25, 2016, Plaintiff wrote a letter to Lashbrook informing her he feared for his health and safety. (Doc. 1, p. 13, ¶ 26). Plaintiff also stated that he suffered from seizures and requested placement in a cell with emergency buttons. Id. The letter was ignored. Id.

         On April 25, 2016, Plaintiff was sleeping in his cell and suffered from a seizure. (Doc. 1, p. 13, ¶ 27). When Plaintiff regained consciousness he was in the HCU. Id. Lashbrook was standing over Plaintiff. Id. Lashbrook, without cause, had the medical staff administer charcoal and pump Plaintiff's stomach. Id.

         Plaintiff seeks monetary damages in relation to his claims. (Doc. 1, p. 15).

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into 15 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 regarding their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under the Twombly pleading standard.

Count 1-Eighth Amendment claim against Allen for excessive force during the July 18 Incident.
Count 2-Eighth Amendment claim against Allen for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs in relation to the July 18 Incident
Count 3-Eighth Amendment claim against Lashbrook for directing unidentified medical staff to administer charcoal and pump Plaintiff's stomach absent medical necessity, thereby interfering with or delaying medical treatment
Count 4-Fourteenth Amendment claim against Lashbrook for directing unidentified medical staff to administer charcoal and pump Plaintiff's stomach
Count 5-Eighth Amendment claim against Spiller, Adams, Hill, Chapman, Shah, Lashbrook, Clellend, Malcolm, Edwards, Brown, and Wexford for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs during a hunger strike
Count 6-Eighth Amendment claim against Spiller, Adams, Lashbrook, and Clellend for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs in relation to the July 18 Incident
Count 7-Eighth Amendment claim against Spiller for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's mental health needs on February 28, 2016
Count 8-Eighth Amendment claim against Lashbrook for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical condition (seizures)
Count 9-Lashbrook violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., and/or Rehabilitation Act of 1973, § 504, 29 U.S.C. §§ 794-794e, by failing to accommodate Plaintiff's disability-related needs when he refused to place Plaintiff in a cell with an emergency call button
Count 10- Eighth Amendment claim against Hill, Chapman, Lashbrook, and Edwards for verbal threats and harassment during ...

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