United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN Chief Judge United States District Court
currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center
(“Lawrence”), has brought this pro se
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His
claims arose while he was confined at Pinckneyville
Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”). The
Complaint includes claims that Plaintiff's serious mental
health needs as well as medical needs were ignored, he was
denied some meals, he was subjected to excessive force, he
was assaulted by a fellow inmate after staff refused to move
him, and he was found guilty of a fabricated disciplinary
report. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary
review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
§ 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).
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).
these standards, some of Plaintiff's claims survive
threshold review under § 1915A. Addtionally, the Court
shall consider whether certain distinct claims against
different groups of Defendants may appropriately proceed
together in the same case. See George v. Smith, 507
F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007) (unrelated claims against different
defendants belong in separate lawsuits).
initial matter, Plaintiff's motion for leave to file an
amended request for relief (Doc. 10) shall be
DENIED. Plaintiff submitted his one-page
proposed amended request for relief along with his motion
(Doc. 10, p. 2), indicating that the Court should substitute
that page for the Complaint's original request for relief
in a piecemeal fashion. A cut-and-paste amendment to a
complaint is not permitted. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(a). Instead, all claims against all defendants must be set
forth in a single document. Further, an amended complaint
supersedes and replaces 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).
allegations in the Complaint are as follows. Plaintiff
attempted to commit suicide on July 21, 2014, at
Pinckneyville. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 9). He had recently learned of
the deaths of 2 family members, and requested emergency
mental health crisis intervention. However, Flowers, Wagner,
and Coffey refused to contact a mental health professional to
assist Plaintiff before his suicide attempt. (Doc. 1, p. 6).
Plaintiff also claims that after he tried to kill himself,
unidentified Defendants intentionally delayed their response
to Plaintiff's cellmate's calls for help on his
after Plaintiff's suicide attempt, Wagner and Coffey
grabbed Plaintiff by the arms, picked him up off his feet,
and body-slammed him to the floor, hitting his head on a
radiator. (Doc. 1, p. 7; Doc. 1-1, pp. 2, 4-6). Wagner then
grabbed the electric extension cord that Plaintiff had used
in his suicide attempt, and wrapped it around Plaintiff's
neck, saying he would kill Plaintiff himself. Wagner and
Coffey punched Plaintiff, called him names, and cuffed his
hands behind his back so tightly that his circulation was cut
off. They dragged him out of his cell and down 2 flights of
stairs, intentionally banged his head on a door, and cuffed
him to a shower railing where they left him for 2 hours.
(Doc. 1, pp. 7-8). A mental health doctor came and talked to
Plaintiff, but would not remove the handcuffs until they
21 and 28, 2014, Wagner, Flowers, and Chapman did not allow
Plaintiff to eat brunch. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8).
was in segregation from June 21 to July 28, 2014. While he
was there, Wagner stole his Reebok shoes. Wagner also refused
to properly label Plaintiff's clothing bag containing his
gym shorts when Plaintiff went to segregation, so he never
got the bagged clothing items back. (Doc. 1, pp. 8, 15).
Somebody purposely broke his television. (Doc. 1, p. 8).
complains that Counselor VanZandt (whom he does not include
as a Defendant) failed to properly handle his grievances and
became verbally abusive and physically aggressive when
Plaintiff asked about them. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9).
28, 2014, Plaintiff was assaulted by a cellmate (Cosby or
Crosby) and suffered abrasions and lacerations.
Before this attack, Plaintiff had notified unnamed Security
C/O's that the cellmate's erratic and aggressive
behavior made him fear for his safety. Plaintiff requested to
be moved to a different cell, but the official(s) ignored his
requests. (Doc. 1, p. 9-10). The cellmate punched Plaintiff
in the face and continued the attack for about 10 minutes.
(Doc. 1, p. 10). C/O DeDecker and Lt. Hoch escorted
Plaintiff to the Health Care Unit but he did not receive
adequate treatment. Wagner and Chapman intentionally refused
to call the Health Care Unit to obtain medical treatment for
Plaintiff's injuries. (Doc. 1, p. 8).
asked Internal Affairs staff (Bronnan) for a “Keep
Separate Order” against Cosby/Crosby, but this was not
done. Later on, Cosby/Crosby was placed in the cell next to
Plaintiff, and then in another cell in the same housing unit,
despite Plaintiff's requests that they be housed in
different locations. (Doc. 1, pp. 10-11).
March 4, 2015, C/O Cacioppo falsely accused Plaintiff of
sexual misconduct and wrote a fabricated disciplinary report
on him. (Doc. 1, p. 12; Doc. 1-2, pp. 19-20). Plaintiff was
found guilty by the disciplinary committee, but Lt.
McBride refused to call Plaintiff's requested
witness at his hearing. Plaintiff was punished with 3 months
in segregation. Warden Lashbrook allowed this punishment.
Other inmates who heard about the incident began threatening
Plaintiff with bodily harm when he got out of segregation.
sought a transfer to another prison for his safety. (Doc. 1,
pp. 12-13). Lt. Furlow promised to transfer Plaintiff to
another prison after he refused housing 3 times. (Doc. 1, p.
14). Plaintiff refused housing assignments several times and
incurred other disciplinary charges because he feared for his
life if he returned to general population. He informed Lt.
(who chaired the disciplinary committee) about his safety
concerns and requested an investigation. However, he was
punished with 192 days in segregation and lost 3 months and
15 days of good conduct credits. (Doc. 1, p. 14). Plaintiff
eventually was moved to Lawrence on a disciplinary transfer
on September 9, 2015 (Doc. 1-3, p. 19).
Plaintiff claims that C/O Wormack retaliated against him by
falsely claiming that some of Plaintiff's cassette tapes
were “altered” and that he possessed more tapes
than were permitted. (Doc. 1, pp. 14-15). Wormack either
confiscated the cassette tapes or required Plaintiff to mail
them to somebody outside the prison at Plaintiff's
expense. Wormack also confiscated and destroyed 3 of
Plaintiff's magazines. The taking of these items occurred
after Wormack read Plaintiff's copies of his grievances
against fellow officers Wagner, Coffey, and Chapman, and
accused Plaintiff of lying about his “buddies”
beating up Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, p. 14).
seeks punitive damages and an investigation into the
Defendants' misconduct. (Doc. 1, p. 16).
and Severance of Claims
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: Eighth Amendment deliberate
indifference claim against Flowers, Wagner, and Coffey, for
failing to summon mental health assistance for Plaintiff when
he informed them he was having a crisis and was suicidal on
or about July 21, 2014;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim against
Wagner, Flowers, and Chapman for depriving Plaintiff of two
brunch meals on July 21 and July 28, 2014;
Count 3: Eighth Amendment claim against
Wagner and Coffey for using excessive force against Plaintiff
on or about July 21, 2014, after his suicide attempt;
Count 4: Fourteenth Amendment claim against
Wagner for taking or destroying Plaintiff's shoes and
Count 5: Eighth Amendment claim against
Wagner and Chapman for refusing to summon medical assistance
for Plaintiff on July 28, 2014, after he was injured by a
cellmate who assaulted him;
Count 6: Eighth Amendment claim for failure
to protect Plaintiff from the cellmate who attacked him
despite Plaintiff's advance request to be moved;
Count 7: Fourteenth Amendment claim for
deprivation of a liberty interest without due process against
Cacioppo for writing a false disciplinary report on March 4,
2015, and against Lashbrook for allowing Plaintiff to be
punished with 3 months in segregation after he was found
guilty of the false charge;
Count 8: Claim against Furlow for failing to
transfer Plaintiff for his protection, and against Lt.
Heck/Hock for failing to investigate Plaintiff's claims