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Davis v. Baldwin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 10, 2017

JOHN BALDWIN, Defendants.


          STEPHEN C. WILLIAMS United States Magistrate Judge


         On June 2, 2016, Plaintiffs Henry Davis, Douglas Coleman, Aaron Fillmore, Jerome Jones, Deshawn Gardner, and Percell Dansberry filed a class action complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging unconstitutional conditions of confinement resulting from what they characterize as “extreme isolation” during their times in extended segregation and for due process violations associated with their placement in segregation. This matter is before the Court on Defendant John Baldwin’s motion to dismiss (Docs. 22 and 23). Plaintiffs have filed a response (Doc. 31) in opposition to the motion. Defendant has filed a reply (Doc. 36). Based on the following, the Court DENIES Defendant’s motion to dismiss.

         Factual Background

         Plaintiffs filed their purported class action complaint on June 2, 2016 seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for conditions of confinement, including deprivation of basic human needs and disproportionate punishment by placement in “extreme isolation” sentences in segregation. Plaintiffs also allege that their placement in segregation violated the due process clause. The five individual purported class representatives are all currently serving time in IDOC prisons. Some of the five are currently in segregation while the others were previously in segregation and, as Plaintiffs’ complaint alleges, are at risk of being placed back in segregation given their backgrounds and reasons for being placed in segregation initially.

         Plaintiff Henry Davis is currently serving time in segregation at Lawrence Correctional Center (Doc. 1, p. 5). Davis was previously sentenced to six months disciplinary segregation for alleged gang leadership (that sentence was later expunged) and, at the time of the filing of the complaint, was serving an additional six month sentence for gang leadership (Id. at p. 5-6). Defendant notes in his motion that Davis’ segregation term was set to end on September 11, 2016. Davis alleges that he has been in some form of “extreme isolation” on various occasions since 2011 (Id. at p. 23-25) and during his time in disciplinary segregation he was subject to limited, no contact visits and had limitations placed on his phone calls, delays with his mail, interruption of his GED program, was unable to participate in religious activities and courses, and was only provided access to a law library that contained torn and tattered books and no inmate helpers (Id. at p. 25). While in disciplinary segregation he was subjected to smaller food portions, cells with bugs and freezing cold temperatures, and an inability to visit the commissary (Id. at p. 26). He spends 23 to 24 hours a day in his cell and for the majority of the time he has been single celled. He is unable to communicate with individuals outside of the cell and the addition of an air-blowing machine makes any communication difficult (Id.). He is only allowed access to a yard for two hours each week, usually on the same day (Id.).

         Plaintiff Douglas Coleman is currently housed in “X house” in Stateville Correctional Center and has been subject to approximately fourteen months of disciplinary segregation (Doc. 1, p. 26-27). While in various disciplinary segregations, his cells were filthy, sometimes infected with bugs and rodents, he had little air circulation, and his food portions were smaller (Id. at p. 27-28). He was only permitted yard privileges once a week (Id. at p. 27). In the winter months, the cells were extremely cold and his cell in F-House segregation at Stateville had a broken window pane, allowing additional cold air into his cell (Id. at p. 28). Coleman had little communication with other inmates, was confined for twenty-four hours a day, and at one point was housed with a mentally ill inmate (Id. at p. 28-29). While in F-House, Plaintiff, who suffered from a stroke and is confined to a wheelchair, was denied use of his wheelchair (Id. at p. 29). Plaintiff had limited yard privileges and was unable to access the yard many times due to being denied a wheelchair, was not allowed phone calls, and had little access to programs including religious and psychological services (Id. at p. 30). He was subject to no contact visits (Id.).

         Plaintiff Aaron Fillmore is currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center and has been in various forms of segregation for the past seventeen years (Doc. 1, p. 38). Plaintiff Fillmore originally spent approximately five years in disciplinary segregation at Tamms Correctional Center (Id. at p. 39). When Tamms closed, Plaintiff was transferred to Lawrence Correctional Center, where he remains in isolation almost twenty-four hours a day (Id.). Plaintiff has no access to natural light, his one window is covered by a metal box, and a large amount of bird feces is directly outside the window preventing him from opening the window to allow air circulation (Id.). The constant noise outside the cell makes it difficult to communicate with any other inmates on the wing (Id. at p. 40). Plaintiff rarely leaves his cell, only for meetings with his attorneys, an annual tuberculosis vaccination, and a weekly ten-minute shower (Id.). Plaintiff only is allowed two no contact visits a month and in disciplinary segregation he is not allowed to make phone calls (Id.). In administrative segregation he is only allowed one, thirty-minute phone call per week (Id. at p. 40-41). Fillmore alleges that he is only allowed one or two hours of yard each week and the yard consists of a barren concrete floor with no equipment, games, or activities (Id. at p. 41). He has no access to programs at the prison, including education programs, and he has been denied access to reading materials from the library as well as access to his personal property (Id.). Fillmore alleges that he is not allowed to present evidence or call witnesses when he is charged with disciplinary actions which cause him to be placed in segregation and that he is subject to “sham hearings” (Id. at p. 43).

         Plaintiff Jerome Jones is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center. While at Stateville and Lawrence Correctional Centers in 2013 through 2015, Plaintiff was placed in administrative detention for having involvement in a gang or STG (Doc. 1, p. 46). Although he was told the segregation was for “non-disciplinary” purposes, he had many rights and privileges that are afforded general population inmates taken away from him (Id. at p. 47). He was confined to a dark cell for almost 24 hours a day, his toilet was on a timer, and he was completely isolated from general population, including being served meals in his cell (Id.). The portion size of his meals was smaller than those served in general population (Id.). Jones only was permitted no contact two-hours visits while in administrative detention and his phone privileges were limited (Id. at p. 47-48). Plaintiff received access to the yard only three times a week and “yard” consisted of a concrete slab with no access to weights, phone, or other materials and activities (Id. at p. 48). He shared his small cell with a second inmate for almost a year (Id.). He was not allowed to attend religious services, was denied religious materials, denied access to the general and law libraries, and denied access to his personal property (Id. at p. 48-49). Jones was released from administrative detention on February 3, 2016 but fears being arbitrarily placed back in isolation (Id. at p. 49).

         Plaintiff DeShawn Gardner is currently housed in administration detention at Lawrence Correctional Center (Doc. 1, p. 49-50). He was initially housed at Tamms Correctional Center from 2006 to 2012 and was transferred to Menard Correctional Center in 2012 (Id. at p. 50). Plaintiff, while at Stateville Correctional Center, was placed in investigative status on November 19, 2013 and did not receive a disciplinary ticket or told the reason for his placement in investigation (Id.). He was transferred to Lawrence Correctional Center twenty-six days later and placed in administrative detention (Id. at p. 51). Plaintiff remains in administrative detention, although he has progressed from Phase I to Phase III allowing him additional privileges than what are allowed in Phases I and II (Id. at p. 51). In Phase III Plaintiff has no access to rehabilitative programs, educational programs, the law library, or religious services (Id.). He has restricted phone privileges and his mail access is delayed (Id. at p. 51-52). He is housed in a small cell, with toilets that are on a timer, and housed near the mentally ill wing where inmates scream and throw feces (Id. at p. 52). He has limited communications with inmates outside of his cell (Id.). He is limited to yard privileges which consist of two hour, three times a week access to a cage that contains no activities (Id.). His meal portions are smaller than general population and he is only allowed four no contact visits a month (Id.).

         Plaintiff Percell Dansberry is currently housed at Menard Correctional Center (Doc. 1, p. 54). In August 2013, Dansberry was sentenced to three months in disciplinary segregation while at Pontiac Correctional Center for membership in an STG. He was transferred to Menard Correctional Center on December 4, 2013 and placed in administrative detention where he remained for two years until November 2015 (Id.). Dansberry alleges that he did not receive notice prior to his placement in administrative detention or notice of any charges against him (Id.). He alleges that he has never been provided a reason for his placement in administrative detention during the two years he was housed there (Id.). He was granted an informal hearing in April 2014 but was never given a reason for his continued placement; he was only told he was being kept in administrative detention (Id. at p. 54-55). While in administrative segregation, he was treated the same as disciplinary segregation inmates (Id. at p. 55). He was only given access to a barren yard once per week for five hours (Id.). In Phase II and III he was only allowed access to the yard twice a week (Id.). Most of the cells had metal boxes covering the windows and the doors were solid steel with only a chuck hole and small window (Id.). He was only given one small cup of watered-down disinfectant to clean his cell and the cell was infested with bugs and rodents (Id.). The cell was drafty in winter and in the summer was very hot and had little air circulation (Id. at p. 55-56). The food portions were smaller than general population (Id. at p. 56). His visits were limited; he was only allowed two 1-hour visits per month in Phase I, three 2-hour visits in Phase II, and five 2-hour visits in Phase III, all of which were no contact visits (Id.). He was permitted only one 30-minute phone call per week (Id.). In Phase I, Plaintiff also lost his audio-visual privileges and he could not participate in any educational and religious opportunities or other IDOC programming during his entire stay in administrative detention (Id. at p. 56-57).

         Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss seeking to dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Defendant initially argued that the claims filed by Coleman, Fillmore, and Jones were barred by the doctrine of res judicata but has since withdrawn that argument (See Doc. 36). Defendant, however, continues to argue that Plaintiffs have failed to statement a claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement and due process. Defendant also argues that the claims of Coleman, Jones, and Dansberry are moot as they are not currently in disciplinary segregation or administrative detention and that the there is no jurisdiction to award injunctive relief as they are not currently confined to any type of segregation or detention. Defendant also argues that Plaintiffs Davis, Fillmore, and Gardener possess no liberty interest in avoiding placement in administrative detention. In the alternative, Defendant seeks to sever the Plaintiffs’ claims.

         Legal Standards

         Defendant brings his motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to decide the adequacy of the complaint, not the merits of the case. See Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In assessing a complaint or count under Rule 12(b)(6), the District Court accepts as true all well-pled factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff’s favor. Tricontinental Indus., Ltd. v. PriceWaterhouseCooper, LLP, 475 F.3d 824, 833 (7th Cir. 2007); Marshall v. Knight, 445 F.3d 965, 969 (7th Cir. 2006); Corcoran v. Chicago Park Dist., 875 F.2d 609, 611 (7th Cir. 1989). Courts must determine whether the factual allegations in a complaint plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief. Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009)). Dismissal is warranted “only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove any facts that would support his claim for relief.” Hayes v. City of Chicago, 670 F.3d 810, 813 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting Thomas v. Guardsmark, Inc., 381 F.3d 701, 704 (7th Cir. 2004)). For ...

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