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Garcia v. Spiller

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 25, 2017

JOAN GARCIA, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM M. SPILLER, KENT BROOKMAN, TERRANCE JACKSON, KIMBERLY BUTLER, MS. BEABOUTT, LORI OAKLEY, SHERRY BENTON, and JOHN R. BALDWIN Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HERNDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Joan Garcia, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff requests monetary compensation and injunctive relief. 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

         On December 7, 2015, Plaintiff was on the west recreation yard at Menard Correctional Center when a fight broke out. (Doc. 1 at 6). Shots were fired and Plaintiff immediately got down on his knees. Id. Plaintiff was handcuffed and taken to North 2 for allegedly disobeying a direct order by kneeling instead of lying all the way down on the ground. Id.

         Beboutt, the internal affairs officer, interviewed Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Beboutt started to ask him questions about the altercation, but Plaintiff insisted he had been brought to North 2 only because he refused to obey a direct order, and that he was not involved in the altercation and did not know anything about it. Id. Beboutt then told Plaintiff that staff at Menard had been plotting to write false tickets on all the Hispanic inmates in the Latin Folks gang because of an incident in which Latin Folks members had attacked two guards in the chapel. Id. Beboutt then went on to tell Plaintiff that she hates Mexicans and Latinos. Id. She also said that Spiller had agreed to write Latin Folks false tickets, and that Plaintiff would be getting one. Id.

         Plaintiff responded that if he got a false disciplinary report, he would write grievances on Beboutt and Spiller and file a complaint. (Doc. 1 p. 7). Beboutt told him that he would never finish the grievance procedure and that staff would destroy any grievances they found. Id. Plaintiff further alleges that Beboutt told him that Butler, the warden, was in on the scheme to write false disciplinary reports and that Butler had specifically instructed Spiller to grab all the Hispanic inmates he could, regardless of whether they were involved in the altercation. Id.

         On December 15, 2015, Plaintiff received a disciplinary report for fighting authored by Spiller, exactly as Beboutt had said. Id. Plaintiff appeared before the adjustment committee, which was comprised of Kent Brookman and Terrance Jackson. Id. The disciplinary report states that Plaintiff pled guilty, which he alleges is false. (Doc. 1 at 7-8). (Doc. 1-1 at 2). Plaintiff alleges that if the adjustment committee had reviewed the video, they would have seen that Plaintiff was not involved in the altercation. (Doc. 1 at 7). Plaintiff also alleges that if the adjustment committee had investigated him, they would have discovered that he was not a “Disciple, ”[1] presumably a member of the Gangster Disciples. Id. Plaintiff alleges the adjustment committee found him guilty when there was no substantiated evidence to support the Spiller's report, and no indication that the confidential sources were reliable. Id. Plaintiff also states that Brookman had “personal reasons” for finding him guilty. Id. Plaintiff was sentenced to 1 year segregation, 1 year C-grade, 1 year commissary restriction, 1 month yard restriction, and 6 months no contact visits. Id. Butler signed off on the ticket on December 31, 2015, allegedly despite knowing that the ticket was unsubstantiated and that the adjustment committee had relied on Spiller's report alone. (Doc. 1 at 8).

         Plaintiff wrote a grievance on the false disciplinary report, which Lori Oakley reviewed. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Oakley knew that the ticket was unsubstantiated and that the reviewing officers had relied on the reporting officer alone. Id. He alleges that Oakley turned a blind eye to those issues, failed to investigate, and recommended that the grievance be denied. Id. Butler concurred with Oakley's conclusion. Id. Both Oakley and Butler allegedly denied Plaintiff's request for his ticket to be expunged without good reason. Id. Plaintiff appealed the denial to the Administrative Review Board, where Sherry Benton and John Baldwin denied Plaintiffs grievance. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Baldwin and Benton knew that the ticket was unsupported by substantial evidence and that the adjustment committee had relied on Spiller's report alone. (Doc. 1 at 8-9).

         Plaintiff was housed in segregation at Menard from December 7, 2015 until December 7, 2016. (Doc. 1 at 9). Plaintiff received less food in segregation and had fewer opportunities to shower. Id. There was excrement smeared in his cell, which smelled. Id. Plaintiff suffered from sleep deprivation and bed sores. Id. The cell was too small to exercise in, lacked ventilation, and was filthy. (Doc. 1 at 10). Plaintiff also lost many privileges, including exercise, audio-visual, visits, religious services, and law library. Id. The cells had mold. Id. Plaintiff repeatedly injured his face on the ...


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