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Colvin v. Chester Mental Health

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 25, 2017

BRANDEN COLVIN, Sr., Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Branden Colvin, Sr., a detainee at Rock Island County Jail in Rock Island, Illinois, filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. According to his Complaint (Doc. 1) and Supplement (Doc. 9), [1] Plaintiff suffered numerous violations of his constitutional rights at Chester Mental Health Center (“CMHC”) in 2016.[2] (Doc. 1, pp. 1-5). He names CMHC and six of its employees in connection with claims under the First, Eighth, and Fifteenth Amendments. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff seeks criminal charges and monetary damages against the defendants. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         The Complaint is now subject to preliminary review under 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). The Complaint does not survive screening because it is factually and legally frivolous. Accordingly, it shall be dismissed.


         According to the Complaint, Plaintiff arrived at CMHC on June 15, 2016. (Doc. 1-1, p. 1). In the months that followed, Tracy Mot (therapist), Bruce (an “STA”), James (an “STA”), Will Miller (“STA supervisor), K. Straight (nurse), and Nancy Henderson (unit director) allegedly violated his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fifteenth Amendments. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-5; Doc. 1-1, pp. 1-12). The allegations offered in support of Plaintiffs claims against each of these individuals are summarized herein.

         Tracy Mot

         Plaintiffs therapist, Tracy Mot, allegedly failed to place a 5-page “lecture/essay” that Plaintiff wrote into his file for the judge and doctor to review. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 1-4). The lecture/essay addressed “the occult-esoteric-metaphysics-theosophy.” Id. Plaintiff describes it as “very difficult subject matter for the average Westernized mind.” (Doc. 1-1, p. 3). When Plaintiff asked Mot to explain why she did not place the writing sample in his file, Mot indicated that she thought it was only for her review. Id. Plaintiff characterizes this response as “manipulation, ” which is a “form of witchcraft.” Id.

         Mot “seem[ed] to think” that Plaintiff was delusional. (Doc. 1-1, p. 1). After telling Plaintiff that he made a perfect score on his fitness test, she insinuated that he still needs “medicine.” Id. Plaintiff offers a single example in support of this assertion. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 1-3). On one occasion, Mot told Plaintiff that he “think[s] highly of [him]self.” (Doc. 1-1, p. 2). According to Plaintiff, this was Mot's way of suggesting that he suffers from grandiose thinking. Id. In response to her comment, Plaintiff agreed that he has “high self esteem.” Id. Plaintiff went on to say that he “understood” if Mot could not comprehend his writing because of the difficult subject matter. (Doc. 1-1, p. 3). He then stated, “Little Mrs. Tracy . . . is a sufferer from average mind syndrome [sic].” Id.

         When Plaintiff asked Mot to place another 5-page writing sample into his file, a “sit in” therapist intervened and demanded money for photocopies. (Doc. 1-1, p. 2). This bewildered Plaintiff, who was never before required to pay for copies. Id. Mot later confirmed that she placed the writing sample in Plaintiffs file. Id. Plaintiff did not believe her. Id. He alleges that Mot lost his trust after the first incident of manipulation. (Doc. 1-1, p. 3). Mot was replaced by “Shirley”[3] on August 2, 2016. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 10-11).

         Plaintiff claims that Mot's conduct violates his freedom of speech, press, and religion under the First Amendment. (Doc. 1-1, p. 4). He also brings a discrimination claim against her under the Fifteenth Amendment. (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         Bruce, James, Miller, and Henderson

         Plaintiff goes on to complain about separate constitutional deprivations that resulted from the alleged misconduct of Bruce (an “STA”), James (an “STA”), Will Miller (“STA” supervisor), and Nancy Henderson (unit director). (Doc. 1-1, pp. 4- 12). According to the Complaint, these individuals “tyrantly abuse[d] authority by being vindictive[, ] manipulative[, ] [and] making false reports” against him. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 4-5). As a result, Plaintiff's behavior level “dropped.” (Doc. 1-1, p. 5). He was placed in seclusion on two separate occasions. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 5-6).

         The first time, Plaintiff was placed in seclusion by Bruce for “about an hour” as punishment for talking in line while returning from lunch. (Doc. 1-1, p. 5). He does not deny talking. Id. Plaintiff instead states that “every day people talk in line going to and from the dinning (sic) room.” Id.

         On July 15, 2016, Plaintiff was again pulled from the lunch line and placed in seclusion for approximately ninety minutes. Id. Bruce, Miller, and another unknown individual[4] searched Plaintiff's room. (Doc. 1-1, p. 12). In the process, they discovered a sharp object stored in a sock. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 5-8). The sharp object was actually a toothbrush. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 7-9). Plaintiff maintains that he stored it in a sock to keep it clean and avoid “catch[ing] germs.” Id. He describes the officers who failed to realize this as “stuck on stupid” and “dumber than dumber.” (Doc. 1-1, p. 9). Plaintiff's toothbrush was confiscated as punishment, and he now has to request permission to use it. Id. He refuses to do so. Id. Plaintiff attributes this punishment to “another false report!” Id.

         Plaintiff refers to Bruce as a bully, a “ring leader, ” and a manipulator, which he again characterizes as witchcraft. (Doc. 1-1, p. 7). He provides one additional example of Bruce's misconduct. Id. Bruce called Plaintiff “retarded” for “trying to get the biggest pencil” when “most are very little.” (Doc. 1-1, p. 5). Plaintiff told Bruce that the name-calling was not very nice. Id. In response, Bruce said, “I didn't call you retarded[.] I said ...

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