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Coleman v. Illinois Department of Corrections

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 19, 2017

DWAINE COLEMAN, #B62923, Plaintiff,


          David R. Herndon, Judge

         Plaintiff Dwaine Coleman, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that the defendants have violated his constitutional rights in a variety of ways, including by showing deliberate indifference to his medical needs, depriving him of due process, sexually harassing him, retaliating against him, stealing from him, and subjecting him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement. (Doc. 1). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the 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).

         As a part of screening, the Court is also allowed to sever unrelated claims against different defendants into separate lawsuits. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). In George, the Seventh Circuit emphasized that the practice of 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. The Seventh Circuit in Owens v. Godinez, No. 15-3892, WL 2655424 (7th Cir. June 20, 2017) recently issued strong encouragement to district courts to enforce the directive of George. Consistent with George and Owens, unrelated claims will be severed into new cases, given new case numbers, and assessed separate filing fees.

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: upon arriving at Menard on March 1, 2017, Plaintiff was placed in a cell with no bedding or hygiene items (e.g., soap and toothpaste) and none of his pain and migraine medication. (Doc. 6, p. 10). He was without these items for two weeks, pursuant to a policy at Menard disallowing property for new inmates until they have been at the prison for two weeks. Id. Plaintiff spent ten days in the same undergarments without the opportunity to clean them properly. Id. Plaintiff's cellmate had a colostomy bag, but he did not have proper bio-hazard disposal bags or cleaning supplies, which exposed Plaintiff to Hepatitis C and other infectious diseases because Plaintiff “was forced to double shower in a cage designed for one with black mold and standing water while [his cellmate] washed out his colostomy bag which ran into standing water.” Id.

         On March 17, “Sgt. Lindenberg threatened and sexually harassed” Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff made a PREA report, and Lindenberg “retaliated by taking [Plaintiff's] outside recreation on March 18, 2017.” Id. On March 30, 2017, C/Os Wasson and Cornstobble told other inmates that Plaintiff was a “homosexual snitch for making a PREA report on Sgt. Lindenberg.” Id. They also walked past Plaintiff's cell while saying: “PREA I suck dick” in an antagonistic manner. Id. Plaintiff requested a crisis team but was retaliated against by being stripped of his property by Sgt. Taylor without being found guilty of any rule violations or getting a shakedown or inventory slip for confiscated property. Id.

         A “[f]alse I.D.R. for threatening to kill C/Os was written, but [Plaintiff] was not afforded witnesses or video as requested.” Id.

         Taylor, Cornstobble, and Wasson “rigged” Plaintiff's sink, which caused water to explode from it and soak Plaintiff's cell. Id. Plaintiff was injured trying to avoid the water when he fell and injured his head, neck, and back. Id. Plaintiff was denied medical attention despite slips he sent to Nurse Reeba. Id. Plaintiff was “left wet and in pain for two days in [his] cell with only [his] nasty mattress.” Id. Plaintiff was denied his migraine medication, essential hygiene items (e.g., soap and toothpaste), and legal work for fifteen days. Id. “Intel Officer insinuated retaliation for [Plaintiff's] PREA report and ridiculed [Plaintiff] and closed both investigations [“first time” and water incident] without talking to any of [Plaintiff's] listed witnesses.” Id.

         “Personal Property when returning property allows inmate workers to steal whatever they want from segregation offenders.” (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff's food was stolen, along with affidavits and legal books. Id. Plaintiff believes this to be a statewide practice, custom, or policy, and notes that his fan, television, beard trimmer, and night light were stolen and never shipped to Menard when he was transferred there. Id. A grievance officer told Plaintiff that “Personal Property” told him or her that they had no record of Plaintiff's items in their file. Id. “Personal Property makes offenders sign inventory sheets attesting that all property is present without allowing inventory . . . under threat of not receiving property.” Id. Inmate workers deliver this property unsupervised. Id.

         A nurse practitioner told Plaintiff that his migraine medication had been reordered after he had been out of it for a month and a half. Id. After he suffered a seizure, however, Nurse Norton informed Plaintiff that his medications were not on order as of April 30, 2017. Id. She submitted Plaintiff to sick call, and M.P. Moldenhauer switched Plaintiff's medications from Salsalate, which Plaintiff told him had been working, to Propranoloc. Id. Plaintiff had three seizures while he was being denied his migraine medication. Id. Warden Lashbrook and Major Carter were personally informed of this but failed to act and denied Plaintiff's grievance regarding his medication as a non-emergency. Id.

         Menard does not issue rulebooks to inform offenders of expected behavior, and it denies witnesses and video in investigations. Id. AFSCME has created policy that emboldens bad acts on the part of its members, as evidenced by members, including Cornstobble, bragging that they can kill inmates without repercussions. Id.; (Doc. 1, p. 6). There is also a culture of harassment where guards make homosexual jokes and falsely label offenders as homosexuals, which endangers their lives and exposes them to “sexual deviants.” Id. Further, “[a]ll PREA reports are ruled unsubstantiated with no witnesses contacted.” (Doc. 1, p. 7).

         Library access at Menard is “non-existent” because “no legal browsing is permitted and only book delivery” is available. Id.

         Menard and “many IDOC institutions refuse to stock grievances and [other] forms in conspiracy to interfere with access to courts, while disciplinary reports are abundant.” Id.

         “Inmate property is stolen to keep commissary funds flowing as officers receive 60% of profits from inmate commissary, [and] offenders constantly have to replace stolen goods.” (Doc. 1, p. 8). Menard also tells offenders they cannot grieve the confiscation of food when they have been placed in segregation, and a variance from IDOC is needed to circumvent the administrative directives on proper disposal. Id. Lindenberg told Plaintiff about the commissary “scam” when Plaintiff complained to him about missing property. Id.

         Plaintiff's excessive force / staff conduct complaint was ignored. Id. He attempted to mail grievances to the ARB on April 24, 2017, but the receipt was never returned, and the mailroom refused to respond to his requests regarding the fact that his six month trust ledger indicates that the grievances were never mailed. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) “has been aware of all unlawful acts through [the] grievance procedure but has consistently failed to act while denying grievances.” (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff further claims that Wexford Health conspires with IDOC to cover abuse and save money. Id.

         Plaintiff includes several allegations against Sgt. Jones, C/O Dudzynski, Wexford Health, and Nurse Reeba that involve alleged deprivations of Brian Coleman's constitutional rights. (Doc. 1, p. 8). However, Brian Coleman is no longer a party to the case, per this Court's Order (Doc. 6) granting his Motion to Withdraw from Litigation (Doc. 5).

         Plaintiff seeks declaratory and monetary ...

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