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Duncan v. Pearce

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 12, 2017

ALAN DUNCAN, No. B-69424, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Alan Duncan, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff contends officials at Menard subjected him to excessive force and were deliberately indifferent to his related injuries. In connection with these claims, plaintiff sues Lt. Pearce (lieutenant), C/O Davis (correctional officer), C/O Moore (correctional officer), C/O Wannack (correctional officer), Sgt. Chapman (sergeant), M. Myers (correctional officer), C/O Holton (correctional officer), John Doe (doctor), Jane Doe (nurse), Counselor Bartman (counselor), John Doe (correctional officer), and D. Cleland (major). According to the complaint, plaintiff sues all defendants in their individual and official capacities. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

         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

         Plaintiff's claims relate to excessive force incidents that occurred on March 29, 2016. (Doc. 1, p. 6). According to the complaint, Moore arrived at plaintiff's cell, reportedly to escort plaintiff to a mental health appointment. Id. Moore began using racial slurs and verbally harassing plaintiff. Id. Although it is not entirely clear, the complaint indicates that plaintiff may have completed a mental health visit with an individual identified as “Ms. Mason” and that “Ms. Mason” placed plaintiff on suicide watch. Id. It appears that after the mental health meeting, plaintiff was confronted by Pearce. Id. Pearce told Plaintiff to face the wall. Id. Plaintiff indicated there was no wall to face. Id. At that point, Pearce grabbed Plaintiff's head and forced it into a window on a security door, causing Plaintiff's lips to bust open. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff contends Wannack, Holten, Moore, and Bartman observed the assault and failed to intervene. Id.

         Plaintiff contends the assault continued when Holten threw Plaintiff to the ground while Pearce was choking the Plaintiff. Id. During this time, plaintiff was handcuffed. Id. Additionally, while plaintiff was on the ground leg shackles were applied. Id. Plaintiff yelled that he could not breathe. Id. In response, Pearce loosened his grip on plaintiff's neck, temporarily, only to proceed with applying more pressure to Plaintiff's windpipe. Id. Pearce choked plaintiff until he lost consciousness. Id.

         At some point during the attack, plaintiff was being punched by Wannack, Pearce, and two unidentified correctional officers. Id. The unidentified correctional officers were from the 7am to 3pm shift for the R-5 cell house. Id. Plaintiff was then placed on a property cart and the two unidentified correctional officers sat on his back “bouncing up and down.” Id. Plaintiff continued to tell the officers that he could not breathe. Id.

         Plaintiff was then placed in cell 6B-6. Id. Plaintiff instantly began vomiting and had a loose bowel movement. Id. Plaintiff requested medical attention. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff's requests for medical attention were directed to Pearce, Moore, Holten, Chapman, Wannack, an unidentified nurse, and the two unidentified correctional officers. Id. Plaintiff lost consciousness. Id.

         At some point after plaintiff lost consciousness, Cleland, Myers, an individual identified as “C/O Huff” (not a named defendant) and another individual identified as “Lt. Webb” (not a named defendant) woke plaintiff. Id. Cleland woke plaintiff by slapping plaintiff in the face with enough force to dislodge his tooth from his mouth. Id. When plaintiff attempted to shield his face, Cleland yelled “put your fucking hands down.” Id. Cleland then grabbed plaintiff's fingers and twisted them until they cracked in three different places. Id. Myers then began to knee plaintiff in the back while he was laying on the ground. Id. Plaintiff did not receive medical attention for his injuries at that time. Id.

         On April 11, 2016, plaintiff was taken to an outside hospital for treatment (the Orthopedic Institute of Southern Illinois). (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). An unidentified doctor at the outside hospital prescribed tramadol and ibuprofen. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff contends the treatment he received was inadequate in that he was allergic to ibuprofen. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9).


         Clarification Regarding Defendants

         It is necessary to clarify who the defendants are in the instant action. The first clarification relates to individuals identified as “C/O Huff” and “Lt. Webb.” Although the body of the Complaint raises allegations with regard these individuals, they are not identified as defendants in the caption of the complaint or in section of the complaint that identifies the parties. Because these individuals are not listed in the caption by name or by Doe designation, they will not be treated as defendants in this case, and any claims against them should be considered dismissed without prejudice. See FED. R. CIV. P. 10(a) (noting that the title of the complaint “must name all the parties”); Myles v. United States, 416 F.3d 551, 551-52 (7th Cir. 2005) (to be properly considered a party a defendant must be “specif[ied] in the caption”); Id. at 553 (“[It is] unacceptable for a court to add litigants on its own motion. Selecting defendants is a task for the plaintiff, not the judge.”).

         The second clarification relates to Davis. Although Davis is identified as a defendant in the caption of the complaint, plaintiff has not asserted any specific allegations with respect to Davis. When a defendant is named in the caption, but not referenced within the body of the complaint, the defendant is not adequately put on notice of which claims in the complaint, if any, are directed against him. Accordingly, Davis shall be dismissed from this action without ...

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