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Amaya v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 23, 2017

DANIEL AMAYA, R72828, Plaintiff,
KIMBERLY BUTLER, et al. Defendants.


          Staci M. Yandle United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Daniel Amaya, an inmate housed at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff was formerly housed at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”) and his claims in the instant Complaint relate to his time at Menard. Plaintiff claims that while he was incarcerated at Menard, on or about April 1, 2016, his constitutional rights were violated during a strip search and cell shake down conducted by members of the Orange Crush tactical team (the “shake down”). In connection with these claims, Plaintiff identifies more than 200 Defendants. Among the Defendants are Kimberly Butler (warden), William Rees (assistant warden), Anthony Williams (assistant warden), Doug Lyerla (assistant warden), John R. Baldwin (acting director), Leslie McCarty (administrative review board member), Jacob Weatherford (mental health advisor), Jane Doe (nurse), Dr. Trost & Associates, Kelly Pierce (counselor), John Doe (chief of operations for IDOC), John Does (201 members of the Orange Crush tactical team), and Phelps (internal affairs officer).

         The Complaint is now before the Court for a 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 Complaint

         Preliminary Comment

         Plaintiff's Complaint and accompanying exhibits consist of 156 pages. The first 106 pages of the Complaint are devoted to identifying the numerous Defendants. (Doc. 1; Doc. 1-1; Doc. 1-2, pp. 1-5). Plaintiff's statement of claim consists of only two pages and contains very generic allegations. (Doc. 1-2, pp. 31-32). Plaintiff has also attached a number of grievances, medical records and affidavits. (Doc. 1-2, pp. 9-31, 33-42).

         In an effort to identify material relevant to Plaintiff's claims, the Court has reviewed Plaintiff's supporting exhibits, which contain a litany of allegations and facts. The Court emphasizes that it is only considering facts which specifically address the claims Plaintiff has actually alleged or attempted to allege in his Complaint. In other words, the Court has not extracted facts from Plaintiff's exhibits in an attempt to fashion claims that Plaintiff has not alleged. See United States ex rel. Garst v. Lockheed-Martin Corp., 328 F.3d 374, 378 (7th Cir. 2003) (it is not the responsibility of the Court to comb through Plaintiff's exhibits to fashion claims on Plaintiff's behalf). For example, a grievance filed with the Complaint alleges that in response to having filed grievances, Plaintiff was denied access to religious services. (Doc. 1-2, pp. 14, 36). Such an allegation might support a claim for retaliation. However, Plaintiff's Complaint does not assert a claim for retaliation that alludes to this conduct. To the extent that Plaintiff intended to bring additional claims premised solely on facts included in his exhibits, those claims should be considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled.

         The Allegations

         According to the Complaint, on April 1, 2016, members of the Orange Crush tactical team sexually abused Plaintiff and other inmates in the East Cell House. (Doc. 1-2, p. 31). The Complaint does not provide any additional detail with respect to the shake down. However, the exhibits attached to Plaintiff's Complaint provide the following additional information.

         On April 1, 2016, members of the Orange Crush tactical unit subjected Plaintiff and other inmates to a strip search, shake down and other humiliating abuse. (Doc. 1-2, pp. 9-10, 12, 33-42). The Orange Crush tactical unit paraded the prisoners from their cells to the prison chapel. (Doc. 1-2, p. 10). During this time, Orange Crush officers yelled at the inmates to keep their heads and eyes down. Id. The officers were not wearing any identification tags. (Doc. 1-2, p. 9). Additionally, officers repeatedly grabbed Plaintiff's “ass and cock and balls” and one officer made harassing comments, such as “fuzzy wuzzy” and “easy access.” (Doc. 1-2, pp. 9-10).

         An affidavit provided by Plaintiff's cellmate also describes this incident. According to the affidavit, Plaintiff was strip searched in his cell. (Doc. 1-2, pp. 34-35). During the strip search, Plaintiff's cellmate heard unidentified officers instruct Plaintiff to bend over and “spread them.” Id. He then heard a blowing noise and heard Plaintiff yell “man what the fuck?” Id. (See also Doc. 1-2, p. 29) (an officer made sexual comments and “blew on [Plaintiff's] ass while [Plaintiff was] being shook down”).

         From what the Court can discern, Plaintiff's claims pertaining to the shake down are directed at the Orange Crush Defendants and certain supervisory officials (Menard's warden, assistant wardens, and acting director). The Orange Crush Defendants include John Doe (described as the chief of operations for IDOC and the individual responsible for the Orange Crush tactical team) and approximately 200 John Does (described generically as members of the Orange Crush tactical team who participated in the shake down). (Doc. 1, pp. 6-50; Doc. 1-1; Doc. 1-2 pp. 1-5). None of the John Does are specifically associated with any conduct involving the Plaintiff. The supervisory defendants include Butler, Rees, Williams, Lyerla and Baldwin. Plaintiff contends that these individuals are subject to liability because they exercise control over Menard (Doc. 1, pp. 1-3) and/or because these Defendants had prior knowledge of the tactics being used by the Orange Crush tactical team. (Doc. 1-2, p. 31).

         Plaintiff contends the shake down violated his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, was the result of a conspiracy, and constitutes the intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Doc. 1-2, pp. 31-32). The Complaint also indicates that Plaintiff is attempting to bring one or more claims pertaining to grievances. The Complaint alleges that “Defendants, wardens, Lieuten[a]nts, sergeants, mental health staff, nurses, Dr. Trost & associates, internal affairs, John R. Baldwin, Leslie McCarty, [and] Kellie Pierce, failed to intervene” regardless of numerous grievances. Id.

         The Complaint also includes a number of exhibits that involve and/or discuss grievances filed by the Plaintiff and other inmates. Plaintiff filed grievances pertaining to the April 1, 2016 shake down alleging PREA violations. (Doc. 1-2, pp. 9-10, 12, 16, 27-28). He also filed grievances pertaining to the mishandling of his PREA grievances, officer conduct in relation to his PREA grievances, his PREA examination and retaliation. (Doc. 1-2, pp. 11-16). Plaintiff's grievances and related appeals were denied. (Doc. 1-2, pp. 17-25).

         Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants violated the Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”), 42 U.S.C. § 15607. (Doc. 1-2, p. 32). Specifically, he contends that Defendants are not properly trained to handle sexual assault investigations. Id. (See also Doc. 1-2, pp. 11, 29) (grievance alleging nurse that conducted PREA examination was not a SANE nurse and was inadequately trained) Plaintiff also alleges that “medical staff” mislead, intimidate, and destroy evidence. Id.

         Although Plaintiff's list of defendants includes information suggesting that certain defendants are connected with Plaintiff's PREA examination, the statement of claim is so generic that the Court cannot identify with any certainty which defendants are being sued in connection with Plaintiff's PREA claims.

         The information contained in the list of defendants also includes several stand-alone allegations that are not clearly related to any claims asserted in Plaintiff's statement of claim. For instance, the list of defendants states that Phelps, an internal affairs officer, intimidated Plaintiff during his PREA examination. However, the ...

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