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Gborplay v. Barnhill

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 11, 2017

OWEN M. GBORPLAY, No. Y21170 Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. BARNHILL, C/O JACKSON, FAIRLESS, NICKLES, PAYSLEE, SCUTEZ, BAREFIELD, JOHNS, and JOHN DOE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Owen M. Gborplay, a citizen of Liberia, filed his Original Complaint on February 13, 2017. (Doc. 1). At the time of filing, Plaintiff was a detainee in the Pulaski County Detention Center (“Pulaski”). Initially, Plaintiff was a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) detainee awaiting deportation. (Doc. 15, p. 1). However, on January 5, 2017, Plaintiff was involved in an altercation with a Pulaski official and was charged with battery. On April 19, 2017, Plaintiff pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. Plaintiff was transferred to Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”) on April 24, 2017 and is presently serving his sentence, on the battery charge, at Menard.

         Plaintiff's constitutional claims relate to his treatment while housed in Pulaski. Plaintiff alleges officials at Pulaski subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement, excessive force, illegal strip searches, and were deliberately indifferent to his related medical needs. Plaintiff seeks monetary relief and injunctive relief in the form of medical care. This matter is presently before the Court for preliminary screening of Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint (Doc. 15) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).

         Background

         Plaintiff's Original Complaint was filed on February 13, 2017. (Doc. 1). According to the Original Complaint, on January 5, 2017, after an incident in the “B” pod housing unit Plaintiff was transferred to segregation where he was stripped naked, shackled and held for 24 hours. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-2). Plaintiff alleged he sustained injuries as a result of this incident, that Pulaski officials were deliberately indifferent to those injuries, and sought monetary damages in relation thereto.

         On April 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend Complaint. (Doc. 5). The caption of the proposed amended complaint identified several Pulaski officials as defendants. However, the body of the proposed amended complaint only identified a single defendant - Pulaski County Detention Center. The proposed amended complaint did not include any claims pertaining to the January 5, 2017 incident described in the Original Complaint. Instead, the proposed amended complaint brought 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 requested monetary damages.

         On April 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed a second Motion to Amend Complaint. The caption of the second proposed amended complaint identified several Pulaski officials as defendants. However, the body of the proposed amended complaint only identified a single defendant - Pulaski County Detention Center Medical Department. The allegations in the second proposed amended complaint focused, once again, on the January 5, 2017 incident described in the Original Complaint. However, all of the allegations were directed against the Pulaski County Detention Center Medical. Additionally, Plaintiff asserted facts that implicated ongoing and potentially serious health concerns. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that, as a result of the January 5, 2017 incident, he was “suffering from sharp pain coming from under [his] heart and lack of breathing off and on throughout during the day.” Plaintiff further alleged that he had requested medical treatment but had not yet been examined by a physician. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff sought only monetary damages.

         On April 12, 2017, the Court granted leave to amend (Doc. 8) and Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. 9) and Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 10) were filed. The Court then proceeded with a preliminary review of Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. 8).[1] Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint was dismissed without prejudice for failure to name a proper defendant. With respect to Plaintiff's alleged untreated medical needs, the Court specifically stated as follows:

The Court is concerned with Plaintiff's ongoing health issues and takes his allegations very seriously. However, these matters cannot be addressed unless and until Plaintiff files a viable action. Further, to date, all of Plaintiff's pleadings have sought only monetary relief. To the extent that Plaintiff wishes to obtain and/or needs medical care during the pendency of this action, Plaintiff should file a separate motion for a TRO and/or a preliminary injunction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65. The motion should be filed in this action and not a separate or new action. In it, Plaintiff must set forth the specific request for relief, as well as the factual allegations that support the request.

(Doc. 8, p. 8).

         Plaintiff was granted leave to file a Third Amended Complaint on or before May 11, 2017. Plaintiff timely filed a Third Amended Complaint on May 4, 2017. (Doc. 15). In a cover letter accompanying the Third Amended Complaint, Plaintiff indicated that, because of his recent transfer to Menard, he was unable to use the civil rights form provided by the Court.

         Preliminary Screening of Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint is now subject to preliminary review 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).

         The Third Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that he arrived at Pulaski on December 1, 2016 as an ICE detainee. (Doc. 15, p. 1). On January 5, 2017, Plaintiff was involved in an incident in the B-Pod housing unit wherein he was accused of “spill[ing] liquid material on an officer.” Id. Plaintiff contends that, at the time of the alleged incident, the officer was not present in the B-Pod housing unit. Id.

         As a result of this incident, Plaintiff was taken to E-Pod segregation unit and placed in cell No. 5. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Jackson, Fairless, and Barnhill are the officials that placed him in cell No. 5. Plaintiff further alleges that Jackson, Fairless, and Barnhill stripped Plaintiff naked and restrained him with cuffs and shackles. (Doc. 15, p. 2). Plaintiff contends the restraints were around his legs, wrists, and stomach. Id. Plaintiff contends that he remained naked for approximately 30 minutes but remained in the restraints for approximately 24 hours. Id. Plaintiff contends the strip search was unjustified because Pulaski officials had no reason to suspect Plaintiff was concealing contraband. Id.

         Several days after the incident, Plaintiff began experiencing major pain in his lung, sharp pains in his heart, and difficulty breathing. Id. Plaintiff alleges that he submitted several requests for medical treatment but, “up until now” he had not been treated. Id. He also submitted grievances that were ignored. Id. Plaintiff contends the ongoing pain is interfering with his ability to eat and sleep. He states that, after two months of requesting medical treatment, he received some of his medical forms back and observed that an unidentified nurse made a request to an unidentified physician (John Doe) to treat Plaintiff. However, the John Doe physician ignored Plaintiff's medical needs and failed to treat Plaintiff.

         Plaintiff further alleges that he was charged with battery in connection with the January 5, 2017 incident. (Doc. 1, p. 2). Plaintiff had numerous court dates regarding the battery charge. (Doc. 15, pp. 2-3). According to Plaintiff, on each court date, Plaintiff was subjected to unjustified strip searches (strip searches were conducted “without any probable cause or reasonable suspicion I was concealing contraband”), in violation of his constitutional rights. (Doc. 15, p. 3). Plaintiff contends Barefield, Johns, Payslee, Nickles, and Scutez were responsible for the alleged strip searches. Id.

         In his request for relief, Plaintiff states as follows: “Due to all these violations of my constitutional rights. I am seeking monetary damage in the amount of $900, 000.00 and medical care until my case is settl[ed].” Id.

         Plaintiff pleaded guilty to the battery charge on April 19, 2017 and was sentenced to two years imprisonment.[2] Plaintiff was transferred to Menard on April 24, 2017.[3] Plaintiff brings no allegations with regard to his medical treatment since his transfer to Menard. However, the Third Amended Complaint indicates that Plaintiff may be receiving medical treatment at Menard. (Doc. 15, p. 2) (“I made several medical request regarding my pain and suffering through a medical complaint form, but up until now I haven't been treated.”) (emphasis added).

         Discussion

         The Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into a single count. The parties and the Court will use this designation in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. Any other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be ...


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