United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE United States District Judge
Leonard Williams, currently incarcerated at Jacksonville
Correctional Center (“Jacksonville”), has brought
this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. His claims arose while he was
incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center
(“Lawrence”). Plaintiff claims that Defendants
were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical
condition, causing him injury, and that he was subjected to
retaliation by Defendant Armstrong and McVey. Plaintiff's
Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
§ 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).
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.
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).
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).
these standards, the Court finds that some of Plaintiff's
claims survive threshold review under § 1915A.
December 2014, Plaintiff Williams was assigned to a prison
job in the dietary department, where he was supervised by Ms.
Armstrong. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Williams had previously suffered a
tear in his right rotator cuff, for which he underwent 2
years of physical therapy. He also had back problems. Due to
these conditions, Williams was unable to perform regular
activities of daily living without pain. He informed
Armstrong that because of his medical problems, he could not
pick up the 100-pound dining tables or the full garbage cans
(also weighing over 100 pounds), which were part of his job
duties. On January 2, 2015, Armstrong responded by telling
Williams that she would make sure his “lazy ass”
picked up the tables and garbage cans, or else he would get a
disciplinary ticket for disobeying a direct order. (Doc. 1,
p. 8). Faced with this threat, Williams struggled to lift the
heavy tables and cans while he screamed in pain. Armstrong
witnessed this, and told Williams that if he did not stop
faking, she would write him a disciplinary ticket.
January 3, 2015, Williams showed Armstrong his medical
records documenting his right shoulder injury and treatment.
She stated that she didn't give a “f**k”
about medical records, and that this was Williams's job
assignment. Id. Williams continued to do the work,
enduring much pain to his injured shoulder. Armstrong
dismissed Williams early from his shift on January 19, 2015
because he could not lift the garbage cans. Williams wrote an
emergency grievance, but the John Doe Warden denied it and
deemed the matter a non-emergency. (Doc. 1-3, pp. 1-2).
saw the prison doctor about his shoulder condition on January
29, 2015. The next day at work, Armstrong again demanded that
Williams pick up the tables. He told her he could not lift
them and had just seen the doctor about his shoulder injury,
which had become worse due to his heavy lifting. Armstrong
again threatened Williams with a ticket if he did not follow
orders. Williams needed to avoid incurring a ticket, because
it would thwart his planned transfer to another prison. He
proceeded to pick up two tables with help from other workers,
but when he lifted the third table, his shoulder gave out.
The table came down hard on Williams' rib cage, causing
severe pain in his ribs and shoulder.
officer took Williams to health care. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). A
nurse gave Williams a medical lay-in permit until his
doctor's appointment on February 3 for an x-ray. However,
the next day (January 31), Williams was called out to work by
Officer Webb. Williams showed his medical permit to Webb,
explaining that he was not supposed to work. Webb ignored the
information, stating that he did not have a copy of the
permit, and told Williams that if he did not go to work, he
would get a ticket. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Williams went to the
dietary department and told Armstrong about the medical
lay-in. She told him to either work or get a ticket, so
Williams went to work, suffering pain every time he picked up
the heavy tables and cans. (Doc. 1, p. 10).
the next 3 days, the same thing happened - Williams showed
his medical permit to Officer Lewis on February 1, to an
unidentified officer on February 2 and to Webb again on
February 3. Each officer, as well as Armstrong, ignored the
permit and Williams had no choice but to work in pain in
order to avoid disciplinary action.
learned from the prison doctor on February 5, 2015 that his
rib was not fractured, but was extremely bruised. The doctor
issued Williams another medical permit, this time to exempt
him from any heavy lifting, and prescribed physical therapy
for the injured shoulder.
February 6, 2015, Williams reported to Armstrong for work and
gave her the new medical permit. Armstrong escorted Williams
to Supervisor McVey who told him to “stop bring[ing]
this medical s**t over here to the dietary.” (Doc. 1,
p. 11). Williams explained that Armstrong told him to get a
doctor's permit, but McVey responded, “I don't
give a f**k, stop bring[ing] it over here.”
Id. McVey then accused Williams of trying to
threaten and intimidate Armstrong with the grievance he
wrote. She told him that wouldn't work, and she (McVey)
could write reports too. They sent Williams back early to his
soon received a disciplinary ticket authored by McVey,
stating that he brought in an envelope with medical
information and complained about his job duties. The ticket
falsely stated that Williams had come from the law library to
dietary. Williams asserts that the ticket was issued solely
as retaliation for the grievance he wrote against Armstrong
for making him lift heavy items after he told her about his
medical problems. (Doc. 1, p. 11).
on these facts, Williams asserts a deliberate indifference
claim against Armstrong, McVey, Densmore (the Head Dietary
Supervisor), Webb, Lewis and the John Doe Warden. (Doc. 1, p.
12). He brings a retaliation claim against Armstrong and