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Gborplay v. Barnhill

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 12, 2017

OWEN M. GBORPLAY, No. 7450517 Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. BARNHILL, CTP. MEADORS, WARDEN ACUFF, PULASKI COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, and UNKNOWN PARTY Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Owen M. Gborplay, a citizen of Liberia, is presently being detained in the Pulaski County Detention Center. According to Plaintiff's Original Complaint (Doc. 1), at the time of the incident in question, he was a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) detainee awaiting deportation.[1] Plaintiff brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is presently before the Court on Plaintiffs Motions for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (Doc. 5, filed on April 3, 2017 and Doc. 7, filed April 10, 2017).

         Background

         Plaintiff's Original Complaint was filed on February 13, 2017. (Doc. 1). The original Complaint identified the following Defendants: (1) Sgt. Barnhill; (2) Cpt. Meadors; (3) Warden Acuff; (4) Pulaski County detention Center; and (5) Unknown Party (Medical Department). In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on January 5, 2017 (while he was an immigration detainee being held awaiting deportation), after an incident in the “B” pod housing unit he was transferred to segregation. (Doc. 1, p. 1). Upon transfer, Plaintiff was stripped naked in front of other officers and the incident was recorded. Id. Additionally, he was placed in shackles around the ankles, wrist, and belly. (Doc. 1, p. 2). The shackles were extremely tight. Id. Plaintiff complained to Barnhill regarding the shackles but he refused to remove or loosen them. Plaintiff was left like this for 24 hours. Id. Every thirty minutes, a nurse examined him but refused to relay his concerns regarding the shackles being too tight. Id. In the morning, Sergeant Atkins and another officer entered Plaintiff's cell. Id. They agreed that the shackles were too tight and adjusted them. Id. Plaintiff alleges that due to the tightness of the shackles during that 24 hour period, he could not eat breakfast or lunch. Id. He also alleges that, as a result of this incident, he suffers from pain in his lung and occasionally has difficulty breathing at night. Id. He is also having difficulty sleeping and suffers from anxiety over the incident. Id. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff requests monetary damages.

         On April 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend Complaint. (Doc. 5). The Motion and the proposed amended complaint were contained in a single document. The caption of the proposed amended complaint provides as follows with regard to the parties: “Owen M. Gborplay, Plaintiff v. Sgt. Barnhill, Pulaski Co. Detention et. al.” However, the body of the proposed amended complaint only identifies a single defendant - Pulaski County Detention Center. The proposed amended complaint does not include any claims pertaining to the January 5, 2017 incident described in the Original Complaint. Instead, the proposed amended complaint brings allegations, directed at the Pulaski County Detention Center, pertaining to unreasonable strip searches occurring between January and March of 2017. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff requests monetary damages.

         On April 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed a second Motion to Amend Complaint. Once again, the motion and proposed amended complaint were contained in a single document. The caption of the second proposed amended complaint provides as follows with regard to the parties: “Owen M. Gborplay, Plaintiff v. Pulaski Co. Detention Medical Department et. al.” The body of the proposed amended complaint only identifies a single defendant - Pulaski County Detention Center Medical Department. The allegations in the second proposed amended complaint focus, once again, on the January 5, 2017 incident described in the Original Complaint. However, all of the allegations are directed against the Pulaski County Detention Center Medical. Additionally, Plaintiff asserts facts that implicate ongoing and potentially serious health concerns. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that, as a result of the January 5, 2017 incident, he is “suffering from sharp pain coming from under [his] heart and lack of breathing off and on throughout during the day.” Plaintiff further alleges that he has requested medical treatment but has not yet been examined by a physician. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff seeks only monetary damages.

         Leave to File is Granted

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1), “[a] party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course.” Plaintiff's April 3, 2017, Motion to Amend Complaint (Doc. 5) is GRANTED in accord with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1). Accordingly, the Court DIRECTS the Clerk of the Court to docket the proposed amended complaint as Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint.

         After amending once as a matter of course, in order to file an additional amended complaint, a party must obtain either: (1) consent from the opposing party; or (2) leave of court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). This Court is to “freely give leave when justice so requires.” Id; see Doe v. Howe Military School, 227 F.3d 981, 989 (7th Cir. 2000). Plaintiff's April 10, 2017 Motion to Amend Complaint (Doc. 7) is GRANTED in accord with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2). Accordingly, the Court DIRECTS the clerk of the Court to docket the proposed amended complaint as Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint.

         Treatment of Amended Pleadings

         The Court suspects that, when Plaintiff submitted his amended pleadings, Plaintiff intended to supplement rather than replace the claims in his original complaint. However, this type of supplementation is not permitted. An amended complaint supersedes the original complaint, rendering the original complaint void. See Flannery v. Recording Indus. Ass'n of Am., 354 F.3d 632, 638 n.1 (7th Cir. 2004). Accordingly, only the allegations in the Second Amended Complaint are presently before the Court. The allegations asserted in the Original Complaint (Doc. 1) and in the First Amended Complaint (Doc. 5) are void.

         Preliminary Screening of Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint

         Given the allegations in the Second Amended Complaint pertaining to Plaintiff's ongoing medical issues, the Court is proceeding with an immediate screening of the Second Amended 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 ...

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