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Abbott v. Lakin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 8, 2017

JAMES ABBOTT, # S-07576, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Graham Correctional Center (“Graham”), has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He raises claims of failure to protect and deliberate indifference to medical needs, based on incidents that occurred while he was detained at the Madison County Jail. The complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Under § 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must 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).

         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 “no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.” 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. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Applying these standards, the Court finds that some of Plaintiff's claims survive threshold review under § 1915A.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff states that on or about February 16, 2016, he told Lt. Hill and Deputy LeMarr that another inmate (Cole) had threatened him. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff asked to be moved away from Cole for his own safety. Hill and LeMarr responded that Plaintiff would “have to work it out, ” and Plaintiff was not moved. Id.

         On February 23, 2016, at 9:40pm, Cole attacked Plaintiff. He placed Plaintiff in a choke hold and ran his head into a metal bar. Plaintiff suffered a deep, 3-inch-long cut on his skull. Deputy LeMarr initially gave Plaintiff no medical assistance, and left to finish his rounds. He later returned with Lt. Hill and Deputy Tassone. Plaintiff asked to be moved away from the other inmates, and reported that Cole had attacked him.

         Tassone took Plaintiff to the infirmary. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff asserts that Tassone knew that the “gash” in Plaintiff's head required stitches, but failed to take him to the hospital. Id. Instead, somebody put butterfly bandages on the wound and told him to “wait.” Id.

         Plaintiff asserts three claims based on these facts: Failure to protect; failure to provide medical treatment; and forcing him to sleep on the floor with a head injury after the attack. (Doc. 1, p. 6). He seeks monetary damages.

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

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

Count 1: Claim against Hill and LeMarr for failing to protect Plaintiff from the attack by inmate Cole;
Count 2: Claim against LeMarr, Hill, and Tassone for failing to obtain prompt medical treatment for ...

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