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Arnold v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 29, 2017

SEAN ARNOLD, #B7516, Plaintiff,
v.
KIMBERLY BUTLER, S.A. GODINEZ, TERRI ANDERSON, SHERRY BENTON, M HOF, ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, WEXFORD HEALTH SERVICES INC., JOHN DOE 1, and JOHN DOE 2, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Sean Arnold, an inmate in Illinois River Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff claims that the defendants failed to protect him from an attack by another inmate while he was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”) and were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs arising from the attack, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. 6). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Amended Complaint 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).

         Upon careful review of the Amended Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to allow this case to proceed past the threshold stage.

         The Amended Complaint

         In his Amended Complaint (Doc. 6), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: Plaintiff was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual assault and is serving a 20-year prison sentence. (Doc. 6, p. 6). He was transferred from Lawrence Correctional Center to Menard on October 22, 2014. Id. Upon his transfer to Menard, Plaintiff was housed with inmate Reliford, also known as Trey-9. Id. Reliford eventually discovered, potentially through seeing Plaintiff's trial transcripts in the cell, that Plaintiff was convicted of sexually assaulting Reliford's cousin. Id. On October 26, 2014, Plaintiff witnessed Reliford give orders to members of his gang, the Gangster Disciples, to attack and kill Plaintiff on sight. Id. Plaintiff attempted to reason with Reliford, but Reliford told him: “If you speak to me again, I'll kill you myself.” Id.

         The next day, Plaintiff wrote a request to Internal Affairs / Placement to alert staff of the threats made to his life and to request to be moved away from Reliford because he feared for his safety. (Doc. 6, p. 7). On October 29, 2014, Plaintiff received a response from Internal Affairs Officer M. Hof stating that Reliford was not on his enemy list. Id. For several days, Plaintiff remained in fear for his life, until Reliford was released from segregation and sent to general population. Id. Plaintiff was eventually released from segregation on December 29, 2014. Id. He immediately requested protective custody and was denied by Warden Kimberly Butler on January 9, 2015. Id.; (Doc. 6-1, p. 9). Plaintiff grieved the denial to the Administrative Review Board (“ARB”), but Director S.A. Godinez and ARB Chairperson Terri Anderson “excluded facts about Plaintiff Arnold's conviction of aggravated criminal sexual assault in order to deny Plaintiff's grievance.” (Doc. 6, p. 7).

         Despite Plaintiff's requests for protective custody and separation from the Gangster Disciples gang because they “had a hit out on him, ” on February 13, 2015, Plaintiff was moved into the same cell as inmate Ware, who was known to be a violent member of the Gangster Disciples gang. (Doc. 6, pp. 7, 12). Ware threatened Plaintiff, and Plaintiff immediately informed prison staff, including Hof and Placement Officer John Doe (“John Doe 2”), about these threats made to his life, and he requested to be moved. Id. On February 14, 2015, Plaintiff was assaulted with a “homemade” weapon, stabbed in the head and face, and beaten in the head with an electric fan. (Doc. 6, p. 7); (Doc. 6-1, pp. 3-7). His request to be moved was denied by Hof on February 15, 2015. (Doc. 6, pp. 7, 12); (Doc. 6-1, p. 19). In his response to Plaintiff's request, Hof noted that Ware was not on Plaintiff's list of enemies. (Doc. 6, p. 12). Plaintiff did not receive a response from John Doe 2.

         From February 16, 2015 to April 20, 2015, Plaintiff made numerous requests for medical attention via inmate medical requests and verbal requests to staff to receive treatment for painful headaches, memory loss, and dizziness. (Doc. 6, pp. 7-8). These requests for medical attention were denied. (Doc. 6, p. 8).

         Elaborating on his claims against certain defendants, Plaintiff alleges as follows: Butler “had full knowledge that [Plaintiff] was requesting protection from the Gangster Disciple Gang and . . . that placing [Plaintiff] in the same cell with inmate Ware, who is a known Gangster Disciple and violent inmate, would result in [Plaintiff] being assaulted by inmate Ware.” (Doc. 6, p. 9). Further, Butler had a “customary practice of denial of protection” unless the inmate in question has listed his potential assailant on his list of enemies. Id.

         The Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) has a “customary practice, ” along with its ARB employees, of regularly excluding key information when deciding grievances for protective custody. (Doc. 6, p. 10). Godinez “promulgated, adopted and/or put into effect the customary practice of [IDOC] to regularly exclude key information when deciding grievances for protective custody, as an effective tactic to deny grievances.” Id. Anderson and Sherry Benton, a member of the ARB, adopted this practice. Id. “The exclusion of any mention of [Plaintiff's] conviction of aggravated criminal sexual assault is indicative of” this practice, because Plaintiff believes it was essential to Plaintiff's grievance for protective custody placement. (Doc. 6, p. 11); see also (Doc. 6-1, p. 16). February 4, 2015 was the hearing date for Plaintiff's ARB grievance, which was ten days before he was attacked. (Doc. 6, p. 11).

         Wexford Health Services Inc. (“Wexford”) and Health Care Administrator John Doe (“John Doe 1”) provide medical care to the inmates at Menard. (Doc. 6, p. 13). At the times relevant to the Amended Complaint, Wexford maintained a policy and practice of denying “medical attention to inmates who complain of any effects from head trauma, or injuries to the head, as a means of saving costs.” Id. Plaintiff made many requests for medical attention, but they were ignored. Id.; (Doc. 6-1, p. 13). John Doe 1 and Wexford “were deliberately indifferent to [Plaintiff's] medical needs when employees of [Wexford] ignored [Plaintiff's] request for medical care, ” and this deliberate indifference caused Plaintiff to suffer medical injuries. (Doc. 6, pp. 13-14).

         Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from the ...


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