United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge
Charles Randle, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at
Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings
this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against fifteen defendants who allegedly violated his
constitutional rights at Menard in 2015-16. (Doc. 6).
Plaintiff asserts claims against these officials under the
First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as Illinois
state law. Id. He seeks monetary damages, injunctive
relief,  and a prison transfer. (Doc. 6, p. 30).
case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the
First Amended Complaint (Doc. 6) 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
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 in the pro se
complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v.
Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir.
asserts six sets of claims against the defendants in his
First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 6). All events giving rise to
these claims occurred at Menard in 2015 and 2016. (Docs. 6,
6-1). A summary of the factual allegations offered in support
of the claims is followed by a brief analysis of each claim
below. Any claim that is not recognized by the Court in this
screening order should be considered dismissed without
prejudice from this action.
Conditions of Confinement
describes Menard as old, dilapidated, and overcrowded. (Doc.
6, pp. 4-8). The prison was allegedly built in 1878 and has
not been updated. (Doc. 6, p. 4). Currently, more than 3, 700
inmates are housed there. Id. Nonetheless, the
facility and state budget cannot accommodate this inmate
population. (Doc. 6, pp. 4-5).
that were originally built to house one inmate are now used
to house two inmates. (Doc. 6, p. 5). The cells are so small
(4' by 10') that Plaintiff can touch opposite walls
at the same time. (Doc. 6, p. 6). Inmates cannot move around
their cells freely. (Doc. 6, pp. 6-7). One inmate must remain
in bed while the other moves about the cell. Id.
Even then, Plaintiff does not have enough room to stretch or
exercise. Id. Although Menard has a policy
authorizing inmates to exercise outside of their cells for
one hour each day, prison officials often disregard the
accommodate two inmates, bunk beds have been installed in
each cell. (Doc. 6, p. 6). The beds are only six feet in
length. Id. Plaintiff is 6' 2” tall, and
he does not fit in his bunk bed. Id. Further, the
bunk beds have no ladder, so Plaintiff must step on the lower
bunk or toilet and jump onto the top bunk. (Doc. 6, pp. 6-7).
This places him at risk of injury. Id. The cramped
quarters have caused Plaintiff to suffer from stiff joints,
back pain, headaches, constipation, and depression.
names three high-ranking officials, including Governor Bruce
Rauner, Illinois Department of Corrections
(“IDOC”) Director John Baldwin, and Warden
Kimberly Butler, in connection with this claim. (Doc. 6, pp.
4-5). Plaintiff does not allege that he ever complained
directly to any of these individuals about the particular
conditions of his confinement or his resulting medical
issues. Id. He also does not allege that they
received any written communications, grievances, or appeals
from him on this topic. Id. Instead, Plaintiff
alleges that they were generally aware of the conditions at
Menard because of the numerous suits brought by inmates to
complain about the conditions. Id. They chose to
“turn a blind eye” to the conditions.
Denial of Medical Care
Health Sources, Inc. is a private medical corporation that
provides health care staff and services to prisons in
Illinois. (Doc. 6, p. 8). Wexford is allegedly responsible
for ensuring that state inmates receive adequate medical care
for their serious medical needs. (Doc 6, pp. 8-9). Wexford
routinely understaffs Menard's health care unit
(“HCU”), however, and this decision has resulted
in the denial of medical care for serious inmate medical
medical claim arises from the denial of medical care for a
large bunion that formed on his foot. (Doc. 6, pp. 8-10). He
requested treatment for the painful egg-sized growth in
several letters to Doctor Trost, but his written requests
were ignored. (Doc. 6, p. 10). Plaintiff also spoke with
several unidentified nurses,  as they made rounds to pass out
medication, and they told him that Wexford prohibited them
from addressing any medical needs that lacked a corresponding
nurse sick call request. Id. He subsequently
submitted five of these slips, along with additional written
requests to Doctor Trost. (Doc. 6, p. 11). Unfortunately,
however, no one responded to them. Id. When
Plaintiff again asked the nurses for assistance, they refused
his second request for treatment because Wexford only
authorized them to treat inmates during nurse sick call.
Id. The nurses and officers ignored Plaintiff's
subsequent direct pleas for help, even when they observed the
bunion on his foot and heard his complaints of the pain.
Id. Plaintiff sent grievances to Nurse Gail Walls,
the HCU Administrator, but she also refused to see Plaintiff.
(Doc. 6, p. 10).
same time, Plaintiff was denied a pair of new boots when he
requested them from undisclosed prison
officials. (Doc. 6, pp. 7-8). This was initially
because shoes were only approved for work, and ultimately
because state funding for inmate shoes was cut entirely.
Id. As a result, Plaintiff had no shoes that fit him
state officials, including Governor Rauner, Director Baldwin,
and Warden Butler, were generally aware of the problems
caused by understaffing and overcrowding at Menard because of
the numerous civil rights actions filed by inmates to
complain about the denial of medical care. (Doc. 6, p. 9).
But these officials chose to turn a blind eye to the problem.
(Doc. 6, pp. 9-10).
Denial of Access to Courts
next claims that Warden Butler denied him access to the
courts. (Doc. 6, p. 12). After filing a post-conviction
petition, Plaintiff's attorney attempted to set up a
phone call with him, on or about April 18, 2016, to discuss
legal strategies. (Doc. 6, p. 12; Doc. 6-1, p. 2). An
unidentified individual at Menard “denied her request
for a legal call.” (Doc. 6, p. 12). The individual told
Plaintiff's attorney that Plaintiff “could not take
legal calls at that point” in time. (Doc. 6, p. 12;
Doc. 6-1, p. 2). Plaintiff blames Warden Butler for this
single missed opportunity to speak with his attorney. (Doc.
6, p. 12). He asserts that “no set of circumstances . .
. gives K. Butler or anyone on her staff permission to
disregard Plaintiff's constitutional right to communicate
with his attorney [and] have access to the courts.”
Failure to Protect
also claims that Officer Bump, Officer Ward, and Warden
Butler have failed to protect him from his former cellmate.
(Doc. 6, pp. 13-14). Plaintiff allegedly sustained injuries
from an attack by his cellmate in March or April 2016, after
inadvertently grabbing his legal mail from between the cell
bars. (Id.; Doc. 6-1, p. 12). After the attack,
Plaintiff requested medical care for his
injuries. Id. While the two inmates were
being cuffed and taken to the HCU, Plaintiff's cellmate
threatened to “get him” or “have him
‘fucked up'” by another inmate. (Doc. 6, p.
the HCU, Internal Affairs Officers Bump and Ward photographed
Plaintiff's injuries and interviewed him. Id.
They asked Plaintiff if he feared a future attack.
Id. Plaintiff told the officers that he did, after
relaying the threat he received from his cellmate. (Doc. 6,
pp. 13-14). Plaintiff also expressed fear that his former
cellmate would have one of his fellow gang members attack
Bump and Ward explained that they were aware of the
cellmate's gang affiliation, however, the officers were
reluctant to transfer Plaintiff away from his cellmate. (Doc.
6, p. 14). They hoped to provoke another attack and establish
grounds to move him to administrative segregation or Pontiac
Correctional Center. Id.
these comments, the officers did separate the two inmates by
placing them in “separate parts of the facility
(different cell houses).” (Doc. 6, p. 14).
Plaintiff's former cellmate still “got word to
Plaintiff on several occasions that he hadn't forgot[ten]
about him [and] . . . was gonna ‘fuck him
up.'” Id. Plaintiff wrote to Officer Bump,
Officer Ward, and Warden Butler to complain about these
threats, but they ignored Plaintiff's letters.
also claims that he was denied due process of law in
connection with a disciplinary ticket he received for theft
and possession of contraband on October 27, 2015. (Doc. 6,
pp. 15-19). On that date, Officer Kern conducted a shakedown
while Plaintiff was employed as a kitchen worker. (Doc. 6, p.
15). While searching Plaintiff, the officer discovered two
bottles tied to his waist that appeared to contain bleach and
dishwasher soap. Id. The officer never opened the
bottles, smelled them, or tested the contents. Id.
Plaintiff received a ticket for what “appeared to
be” bottles filled with bleach and dishwasher soap.
around November 4, 2015, Plaintiff attended an Adjustment
Committee hearing before Officers Vasquez and Brookman. (Doc.
6, pp. 15-16). Warden Butler never appointed a hearing
investigator or officer to look into the matter prior to the
hearing. (Doc. 6, p. 16). The warden also failed to train
Officers Vasquez and Brookman to properly investigate such
matters, and they simply assumed that the bottles contained
bleach and dishwasher soap. Id. Plaintiff was found
guilty of both rule violations based on the statement of
Officer Kern. Id. Plaintiff received one month of
segregation, a one month demotion to C grade, and a one month
commissary restriction. (Doc. 6, p. 16; Doc. 6-1, p. 4).
Mezzo and C/O John Doe then placed Plaintiff in segregation
with a cellmate who had recently been quarantined for chicken
pox. (Doc. 6, pp. 18-19). The officers disregarded the rules
for double-celling contagious and non-contagious inmates.
(Doc. 6, p. 19). In addition, the cell was filthy, and
Plaintiff was given no cleaning supplies. Id.
Denial of Mental Health Care
Plaintiff alleges that he was denied adequate treatment for
mental health issues at Menard. (Doc. 6, pp. 19-29).
Plaintiff has been diagnosed with a “serious mental
illness” that includes severe depression. (Doc. 6, pp.
20-21). He is required to see a mental health professional at
least once a month and can request additional appointments if
necessary. (Doc. 6, p. 21). He has repeatedly been denied
mental health treatment for his depression at the prison, in
violation of the Eighth Amendment and Illinois state law.
undisclosed date, Plaintiff wrote a letter to Doctor
Weatherford, explaining that he was depressed and needed to
meet with the doctor to work through the
“breakdown.” Id. The doctor responded by
writing a letter denying his request for treatment because
Menard was on lockdown. Id. When he eventually met
with Doctor Weatherford, Plaintiff explained that he was
feeling severely depressed, helpless, and hopeless.
Id. Doctor Weatherford refused to treat Plaintiff
and instructed him to write to Doctor Butler instead. (Doc.
6, pp. 21-22).
wrote a long letter to Doctor Butler. (Doc. 6, p. 21). There,
he described his feelings of severe depression, helplessness,
and hopelessness. (Doc. 6, p. 22). Doctor Butler returned the
letter with a response indicating that she had read his
letter. Id. She did not, however, meet with him to
discuss it. Id.
wrote Doctor Butler a second letter, which the doctor
interpreted as an “angry” communication.
Id. In response, Doctor Butler met with Plaintiff in
the HCU. Id. Plaintiff asked the doctor why she
refused to see him after reviewing his first letter, and the
doctor sarcastically responded, “I'm here
now.” (Doc. 6, pp. 23, 27). Plaintiff then told Doctor
Butler that “she had failed him and let him down by not
seeing him.” Id.
Butler had Plaintiff placed in a “strip cell” for
five days without clothing. Id. Plaintiff asserts
that the purpose of the strip cell was to punish inmates who
suffer from mental illness and cause them to suffer
additional emotional distress. Id. During the five
days he spent in the strip cell, Plaintiff was never
re-evaluated. (Doc. 6, p. 24).
Papis then cleared him from “mental health close
watch/observation status” and ordered his return to
segregation. (Doc. 6, pp. 24-26). The nurse allegedly lacked
the training or expertise necessary to make this decision,
which Doctor Weatherford later confirmed. (Doc. 6, p. 25).
Plaintiff wrote letters to complain about his continued
denial of mental health treatment to Warden Butler, Doctor
Trost, Doctor Butler, and Nurse Walls. Id. They
ignored his letters. Id.
point, Plaintiff wrote another “angry” letter to
Doctor Butler. (Doc. 6, p. 27). When Doctor Butler asked
Plaintiff whether he believed and meant what he said in the
letter, he assured her that he did. Id. Doctor
Butler deemed him to be a suicide risk and decided that he
required further observation. Id. He was again
placed in the strip cell for seven days pursuant to Doctor
Butler's orders. Id.
this same time period, Plaintiff put in several requests to
see Doctor Trost about chest pains. When he was finally seen,
Doctor Trost ordered x-rays for a possible chest fracture.
(Doc. 6, p. 28). Nurse Walls ultimately diagnosed him with
stress-induced chest pains. Id. He asserts no