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Tate v. Lawless

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 3, 2017

JAMES TATE, Plaintiff,


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff James Tate, an inmate at Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims that while he was incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, he was unjustifiably attacked by several defendants. (Doc. 1). He also claims that medical treatment of the injuries he sustained in the attack was inexplicably delayed by the 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 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).

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: on October 27, 2015, Plaintiff was attacked in his cell by Lawless, Homaya, King, Porter, Hiller, and Walla. (Doc. 1, p. 6-7). During the attack, Lawless rushed at Plaintiff, struck him with a closed fist, and slammed Plaintiff into the back of his cell. Id. Homaya, King, Porter, Hiller, and Walla rushed in on Plaintiff as well, and when Plaintiff balled up, they slammed him onto his bed and struck him repeatedly with their hands and knees. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Walla and Hiller then took turns kicking Plaintiff in his back as Plaintiff cried and screamed for them to stop. Id. During the “45 [minute] beat down, ” Plaintiff was put in hand cuffs while the officers beat him on his face and whole body. Id. The officers then carried Plaintiff to another cell because he was unable to walk properly. (Doc. 1, p. 8).

         Once in the cell, which had a cement slab for a bed, Plaintiff was told to lay down face first and not move. Id. Plaintiff complied with the order and asked for medical treatment multiple times. Id. The officers denied to seek treatment for the wounds Plaintiff sustained in the attack despite his requests. Id. Plaintiff remained on the cement slab for some time before he was visited by Martin, from whom Plaintiff again requested medical attention. Id. Martin responded that he would advise Nurse Laury to see him during her 4:00 am rounds and told Plaintiff to be quiet in the meantime. (Doc. 1, p. 9). When Laury conducted her rounds, she passed Plaintiff by despite his need for medical attention. Id. Plaintiff did not call out to her because he was afraid. Id. Plaintiff remained on the slab with his injuries untreated until 8:00am when he heard internal affairs was in the building. Id. He shouted to them, and Spiller, a major, and internal affairs officers Lin and Furlow came to Plaintiff, asked him what happened, took photographs of his injuries, and took him to medical where he was treated for bruises and broken bones. Id. Plaintiff requests monetary damages from the defendants, as well as permanent injunctive relief to “prevent future harm to Plaintiff” by the defendants. (Doc. 1, p. 10).


         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into four 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 - Lawless, Homaya, Walla, Porter, King, and Hiller used excessive force on Plaintiff in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment when they ...

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