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Williams v. K. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 31, 2017

ANDREW WILLIAMS, # M-29829, Plaintiff,
v.
K. BUTLER, MS. COWAN, OFFICER LAFOUND, and JOHN DOE Correctional Officer on 6 Gallery, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Andrew Williams, currently incarcerated at Western Illinois Correctional Center (“WICC”), has filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His claims arose while he was confined at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). Williams claims that Defendants failed to protect him from an attack by 3 fellow inmates, despite his many requests to be placed in protective custody. The Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review 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 Plaintiff's claims survive threshold review under § 1915A and shall receive further consideration.

         The Complaint

         On March 23, 2015, Williams was approved for protective custody (“P.C.”) at Menard by then-Warden Butler[1] and Counselor Cowan. (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 7). However, he went to segregation before he could be placed in P.C. While in segregation, Williams wrote to Defendant Butler “numerous times” to request placement in P.C. after he was released from segregation. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Despite Williams' letters and the fact that Butler had previously approved his P.C. application, Butler failed to act on these requests. Id.

         Defendant Cowan was the “intake P.C. counselor.” (Doc. 1, p. 5). Williams informed her that other inmates had a “hit” on him. Id. She initially approved, then denied, and finally approved again Williams' P.C. application, prior to him being moved to segregation. Williams wrote to her again while he was in segregation, telling her that he still needed P.C. when he got out. Cowan responded, “I'm busy, I'll try to get to it, ” but never took action. Id.

         Williams was released from segregation on April 26, 2016 (Doc. 1, p. 7). At that time, he told Defendant Lafound (Segregation Property Officer) that he needed to check into P.C. because of the hit on his life. (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 7). Lafound told Williams that he'd be O.K. (Doc. 1, p. 5). He also said that he was tired of signing Williams up for P.C. because he already did it twice, and Williams keeps going to seg. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Lafound added that Williams could “take it as punishment” because he didn't like guys with sex cases.[2] Id. When Williams reasserted that his life was in danger, Lafound replied, “I know you need P.C. but I'm going home and you got to deal with it.” Id.

         Williams was put in West House, Gallery 6, where the First Shift Correctional Officer John Doe #1 was on duty. He told John Doe #1 “numerous times” that there were threats on his life and there was a “hit” on him. (Doc. 1, p. 6). John Doe #1 responded that Williams would be “fine, ” and told him to quit bothering him. Id. He also stated, “I know you need P.C. but I'm not going to go over what my boss says, ” and walked away. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Between April 26 and May 19, 2016, Williams continued to ask John Doe #1 to sign him in or move him to P.C., but his requests were denied.

         On May 19, 2016, while Williams was on the East yard, 3 other inmates attacked and severely beat him. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 8). Williams asserts that if the defendants would have granted his requests to be ...


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