United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
CORBIN D. JONES, # 01-30-1989-46, and LEKEDRIEON RUSSELL, Plaintiffs,
NEILL MOONEY, MT. VERNON JUSTICE CENTER COUNTY JAIL, C. GREENWOOD, JENNIFER ROBERTS, A. BLANDFORD, J. CARLTON, B. HUFF, A. MEYERS, LT. HAYNES, LT. BONNIE MAY, C/O SPARTEGUES, CAPT. MOUNT, C/O JEFF CLARK, NURSE SHIRLEY, DR. PAULIUS, C/O FORTAG, C/O EDWARDS, DEPUTY TRAVIS SCOTT, C/O NANCY, C/O CONWAY, and C/O McKENNETH, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Phil Gilbert United States District Judge.
who are currently incarcerated in the Jefferson County
Justice Center (“the jail”), have jointly brought
this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Their claims include being confined in a
cell contaminated with another inmate's blood, denial of
medical attention for possible exposure to disease, and
denial of out-of-cell recreation. Jones raises an individual
claim that his legal mail has been opened and destroyed, and
that medical care for injuries he sustained before his arrest
was delayed or denied. Russell claims that he was denied
medication and treatment for his mental health conditions.
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).
Court must also assess whether the claims brought by the two
Plaintiffs in this case are properly joined in a single
action. As shall be explained below, Plaintiff Russell's
claims shall be severed into a separate action, because the
two Plaintiffs' distinct claims are not appropriately
joined in this case. Because each Plaintiff's claims
shall proceed in a separate action, the required merits
review under § 1915A shall be conducted after the cases
have been severed.
Complaint was submitted in two parts. The first section
(filed as Doc. 1) is signed by both Plaintiffs and consists
of 20 pages. Two pages in this section contain cursory
references to Plaintiff Jones' claims for deliberate
indifference, interference with legal mail, and denial of
recreation (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 7), but the majority of the
factual allegations are identified with Plaintiff
Russell's name. The second section (containing 70 pages
and filed as Doc. 1-1) begins with a page bearing Plaintiff
Jones' name and address. The remainder of that document
relates to Plaintiff Jones' claims.
Russell alleges that on March 29, 2017, a cellmate (Joshua
Heart) attempted to kill himself by cutting both his wrists
(Doc. 1, pp. 13, 16, 18). Russell pressed the intercom button
repeatedly to summon help, but no jail staff members
responded until about 20 minutes later. (Doc. 1, pp. 10, 13,
16-18). Meanwhile, Russell tore his underwear to make a
tourniquet in an attempt to stop Heart's bleeding. (Doc.
1, p. 18). The cell “look[ed] like a blood bath”
after Heart cut himself, and Russell got Heart's blood
all over his face, hands, and clothes. (Doc. 1, pp. 13, 16,
18). Heart is a “known drug addict, ” so Russell
asked to be tested for HIV, Hepatitis-C, and tuberculosis,
but no testing has been performed. (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 13, 20).
For at least 4 days after the suicide attempt, the blood was
not cleaned up from the cell or surrounding area, including
the prisoners' meal table, and Russell continued to be
exposed to it. (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 16). Russell was allowed to
shower, but was not given any cleaning supplies for the cell.
(Doc. 1, pp. 14, 18).
had previously been diagnosed with depression, ADHD, bipolar,
and PTSD. (Doc. 1, pp. 17, 19). Since witnessing Heart's
suicide attempt, Russell has experienced sleep disturbances,
shaking, and cold sweats. (Doc. 1, pp. 16-17, 19-20). He
requested Captain Mount and other staff to help him get
mental health treatment, but his requests have been ignored.
(Doc. 1, p. 19). Further, he has not received his regular
prescription medication for his preexisting mental health
also alleges that he “begged” to be allowed out
of the cell for recreation, but Jennifer Roberts refused to
let him out for 3 days in a row, and told him to stop
pressing the intercom button. (Doc. 1, pp. 14, 18).
Plaintiffs seek damages for the violations of their rights.
(Doc. 1, pp. 7, 9).
to the second section of the Complaint (Doc. 1-1), after the
cover page bearing Plaintiff Jones' name and address,
Jones includes a copy of a photograph of purported drug
evidence seized from his home. (Doc. 1-1, p. 2). This page is
identical to a page contained in another Complaint filed by
Plaintiff Jones in a different action filed in this Court on
April 3, 2017, Jones v. Mooney, Case No.
17-cv-337-JPG (Doc. 1, p. 6 in that case). Jones continues
with a narrative describing the search of his room by
Officers Mooney and Greenwood on February 13, 2017, which
culminated in his arrest. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 3-4). Many of these
allegations overlap with matters raised in Case No. 17-337.
However, in the present case, Jones raises a distinct
allegation that after Mooney ordered another unidentified
officer to put him in handcuffs, that officer applied the
handcuffs so tightly that Jones' hands became badly
swollen, preventing jail officials from taking his
fingerprints for 3 days. (Doc. 1-1, p. 4).
remainder of the 70 pages in Doc. 1-1 consists of many
piecemeal handwritten statements, interspersed with copies of
documents such as police reports from Jones' arrest,
excerpts from the Illinois Constitution, receipts from
purchases at the jail, jail menus, and the state court order
setting bond after Jones' arrest. The narrative portions
include some description of Jones being exposed to blood from
the cellmate's suicide attempt and his inability to get
cleaning supplies from jail staff (Doc. 1-1, pp. 9, 12, 70),
officials opening his incoming legal mail and reading his
outgoing legal mail (Doc. 1-1, pp. 10, 14, 20-21, 44-45, 59),
delay and denial of medical care for acid burns Jones had
sustained before his arrest (Doc. 1-1, pp. 23, 25, 42-43, 47,
50-51, 63), denial of out-of-cell recreation (Doc. 1-1, pp.
13, 22, 61), and various other complaints about the jail
on the allegations of the Complaint, Russell's and
Jones' claims may be described in 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
Count 1: Deliberate indifference claim against Mount for
failing to provide Russell with treatment or medications for
his diagnosed mental health conditions or for his mental
health symptoms that developed after witnessing the
cellmate's suicide attempt;
Count 2: Deliberate indifference claim for the failure to
provide Russell with medical testing for communicable
diseases following his ...