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Wimberly v. Sam

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 27, 2017

ANTHONY WIMBERLY, # N-61282, Plaintiff,


          MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge

         Plaintiff filed this this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 while he was incarcerated at Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”), where his claims arose. He was recently transferred to Illinois River Correctional Center. (Doc. 12). Plaintiff claims that he was subjected to unsanitary cell conditions, his property was lost, and prison officials failed to respond to his grievances. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Under § 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).

         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 “no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.” 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. 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). Although 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).

         Applying these standards, the Court finds that one of Plaintiff's claims survives threshold review under § 1915A.

         The Complaint

         On March 21, 2016, Plaintiff was placed into a segregation cell after an altercation. Sams and Woodard failed to secure Plaintiff's personal property and food that he was unable to take with him to segregation. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Upon his release from segregation, Plaintiff discovered that all his items were gone. Plaintiff filed grievances, but never got a response, which he claims prevented him from exhausting his remedies. He sought a writ of mandamus seeking to obtain an answer to his grievances, without success.

         Plaintiff was confined for 30 days (until April 21, 2016) in the segregation cell which, he claims, should have been “condemned” due to the poor conditions. (Doc. 1, p. 4). The cell had “no proper running water” because a seg pen was stuck in the faucet spout. Not only did the pen obstruct the flow of water, it exposed Plaintiff to germs in his drinking water from that foreign object. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). The window was “drilled shut” so that the air did not circulate properly. The window screen was torn, allowing insects and ants to invade the cell. They crawled on Plaintiff, got into his bed, and bit him day and night. (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 13). The sink and toilet were contaminated with fungus and mildew, and Plaintiff was not given cleaning supplies. He had to drink from and wash up in the filthy sink for the entire 30 days, placing his health at risk. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         Plaintiff asked Sams to move him to a better cell, but Sams ignored the request. Warden Dennison was the supervisor of Sams and was responsible for the conditions throughout the facility.

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages from each of the Defendants. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice.

Count 1: Due Process claim for the loss/destruction of Plaintiff's personal property;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim for being confined under unsanitary conditions in the segregation cell ...

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