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Jordan v. Lamb

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 13, 2017

PIERRE JORDAN, #M07905 Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL LAMB, RUSSELL GOINS, DR BROOKHART, LT. WHEELER, C/O WEBER, C/O GAYE, MR. BOWNEN, SHERRY BENTON, SGT. HARPER, and CHRISTOPHER QUICK, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff Pierre Jordan, an inmate in Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes multiple claims against the defendants related to his treatment at Lawrence. He requests a prison transfer as well as monetary compensation from the ten named defendants. Plaintiff was previously granted leave to file an amended complaint, but failed to do so by the May 15, 2017 deadline. Therefore, this case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the original Complaint (Doc. 1) 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).

         As a part of screening, the Court is allowed to sever unrelated claims against different defendants into separate lawsuits. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). Severance is important, “not only to prevent the sort of morass” produced by multi-claim, multi-defendant suits “but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees” under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Id. Therefore, consistent with George, unrelated claims will be severed into new cases, given new case numbers, and assessed separate filing fees.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) is incredibly disjointed throughout. That said, the Court is able to decipher the following allegations: Plaintiff was assaulted by a fellow inmate, Herbert Tribble, with a writing pen. (Doc. 1, p. 5). He was stabbed repeatedly in his arm and shoulder by Tribble and sustained laceration injuries that have since become permanent. Id. Nurse practitioners failed to administer first aid treatment to Plaintiff's wounds from the attack. Id. Weber recovered the weapon from Tribble and gave it to Harper as evidence of the attack. Id. Agent Haues took pictures of Plaintiff's injuries. Id. Plaintiff requested medical treatment from Harper and Jennings at his adjustment committee hearing on May 26, 2016, but they refused to assist him in getting medical treatment. Id. Plaintiff also sent an emergency medical grievance and disciplinary report grievance to Duncan and Strubhart. Id.

         Plaintiff began to receive threats of retaliatory violence from Tribble's associates. When he reported these incidents, Harper, Wheeler and Goins failed to investigate the threats or to discipline the individuals threatening Plaintiff. Id.

         While Plaintiff was in segregation, Reid and Soctkomp deprived him of dinner trays and once per week showers, placed him in tight handcuff restraints leaving him in pain, intentionally withheld mail from him and threatened him for submitting grievances. (Doc. 1, p. 13). Plaintiff believes these actions were racially motivated. Id. He reported this behavior to Williams, Kidd and Wheeler and they all failed to investigate and discipline Reid and Soctkomp. Id.

         For the 16 days Plaintiff was on crisis suicide watch, Reid continued to psychologically and sexually harass and terrorize him as well as the other inmates. Id. Plaintiff continued to protest Reid's behavior to the “M.H.P.'s” who promised to report his concerns to other prison staff, but presumably failed to do so. Id.

         Gaye and Halteroad behaved inappropriately toward Plaintiff as well by sexually harassing him. Id. Gaye and Halteroad also encouraged Plaintiff to perform sexual acts on himself and to engage in inappropriate sexual conversation for their gratification. (Doc. 1, p. 11). Administrative Review Board Office of Inmate Issues Chairwoman Sherry Benton and Lawrence County State's Attorney Quick failed to investigate Gaye's inappropriate sexual harassment of Plaintiff and other inmates. (Doc. 1, p. 19). Plaintiff sent an affidavit regarding Gaye's misconduct to Bownen, Quick and Jennings, and gave the same affidavit to Counselor Collins and Ginder. (Doc. 1, p. 9).

         Plaintiff was subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement by Weaver, Duvall and Rutherford. (Doc. 1, pp. 14-16). These conditions included: excessive cold in Plaintiff's cell during the 2016 fall and winter seasons; toxic flood water from the utility room seeping into Plaintiff's cell; inadequate cleaning supplies provided to prisoners with which to clean their cells; inadequate bathroom facilities and procedures to accommodate the prisoners during day room time; inadequate and unsanitary food service and training of inmates who work in the kitchen; and excessive heat in prisoners' cells…from 95-100 degrees…that contributed to and increased bacterial and viral diseases on the gallery. Id. Plaintiff injured his back and legs in a fall caused by the floodwater in his cell. Id. He has also suffered from migraine headaches as a result of these conditions, which have seriously affected his breathing, thinking and sleeping. (Doc. 1, p. 15).

         Plaintiff was intimidated verbally, sexually harassed and stolen from by Weber, Soctkomp, Reid, Duvall, Brumer and Erwin. (Doc. 1, pp. 16, 18). These corrections officers also allowed inmates to behave inappropriately in various ways. (Doc. 1, p. 18). Despite Plaintiff filing multiple emergency staff conduct grievances against these officers for their “unethical, unprofessional behavior, ” Assistant Warden of Programs Dr. Brookhart, Assistant Warden of Operations Goins, Warden Lamb and Lawrence County State's Attorney Mr. Quick attempted to cover up Weber's theft of Plaintiff's personal property, failed to investigate and prosecute the C/Os and intentionally failed to protect Plaintiff and the other inmates from the crimes the C/Os were committing. (Doc. 1, pp. 16, 18). As a result of the continued harassment and intimidation by Weber and other inmates, Plaintiff attempted suicide on July 11, 2016. (Doc. 1-1, p. 10). Plaintiff was also attacked by his cellmate, Charles Perkins, soon after both he and Perkins alerted Smith that Perkins was a direct and immediate threat to Plaintiff's safety. (Doc. 1, p. 17). Plaintiff sustained injuries from this attack. (Doc. 1, p. 18). Prior to the attack, Perkins and Plaintiff “would share stories of [their] sexual conduct/interactions with M.H.P. Ms. Gay. [They] were both under the impression due to ‘psychological manipulation' of M.H.P. Ms. Gay that [they] were both in a relationship with her.” (Doc. 1, p. 17).

         Plaintiff was obstructed from having meaningful access to the courts when Dr. Brookhart instructed Law Librarian Caslin to deny his request “to be placed on the legal deadline because they don't recognize civil and criminal litigation, only prison conditions.” (Doc. 1, p. 19). As a result, Plaintiff missed a filing deadline in his tort case, a fact the opposing counsel cited as grounds for dismissal of the case. Id.

         Plaintiff was stopped by Benton from petitioning the government for a redress of grievances and Lamb denied Plaintiff's emergency staff conduct grievances and requests for a P.R.E.A. investigation. Id. He was also denied adequate health care by the doctors, health care administrator and nurse practitioners at Lawrence when they failed to appropriately treat his athletes' foot, bruised ankle, Achilles tendon and nose laceration. (Doc. 1, p. 20).

         Discussion

         The Court begins its § 1915A review with a note about the parties in this case. Throughout his Complaint, Plaintiff refers to the conduct of some individuals not named in the caption or defendant list. For example, he states that nurse practitioners, doctors, health care unit administrators, Jennings, Duncan, Strubhart and Haues were deliberately indifferent to certain of his medical needs; that Williams, Kidd and Harteroad failed to protect him against certain abuses by the prison staff; that Reid, Soctkomp, Weaver, Duvall and Rutherford subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement and cruel and unusual punishment; and that Smith failed to protect him from an attack by his cellmate. Because these individuals are not listed in Plaintiff's caption by name or by Doe designation, they will not be treated as defendants in this case and any claims against them should be considered dismissed without prejudice. See Myles v. United States, 416 F.3d 551, 551-52 (7th Cir. 2005) (defendants must be “specif[ied] in the caption”).

         Turning to the allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following enumerated 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 regarding their merit.

Count 1 - Harper was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs when he refused Plaintiff's request that he help him get medical care on May 26, 2016 for the injuries Plaintiff sustained when inmate Tribble attacked him.
Count 2 - Harper, Wheeler, and Goins failed to investigate and discipline the inmates involved when Plaintiff informed them of threats of violence against him by inmates associated with inmate Tribble.
Count 3 - Wheeler failed to intervene to prevent Reid and Soctkomp from depriving Plaintiff of dinner trays and once per week showers, placing Plaintiff in tight handcuff restraints, intentionally withholding mail from Plaintiff, and threatening Plaintiff for submitting grievances after Plaintiff reported this behavior to Wheeler via an inmate request.
Count 4 - Weber subjected Plaintiff to cruel and unusual punishment by verbally and sexually harassing Plaintiff, making intimidating remarks to Plaintiff, stealing from Plaintiff, and making retaliatory threats toward Plaintiff, resulting ...

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