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Williams v. Gorden

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 25, 2017

D'AARON WILLIAMS, # 20120811136, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER GORDEN, JOHN DOE 1 Sheriff/Lt., JANE DOE 1 Sheriff/Officer., JOHN DOE 2 Correctional Officer, ADAMS, JEFFERSON COUNTY, ILLINOIS, and MOUNT, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. Phil Gilbert, United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court for a merits review of Plaintiffs First Amended Complaint (Doc. 10), filed of record on April 25, 2017, [1] at the direction of the Court. On March 24, 2017, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs original Complaint (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. He was ordered to file an amended complaint, limited to the claim in Count 2, if he wished to proceed with the action. (Doc. 9). Count 2 of the Complaint was outlined as follows:

Count 2:
First Amendment claim against Officer John Doe #2 and Lt. Jane Doe #1, for the mishandling and loss of Plaintiff s two outgoing legal letters.

         Plaintiffs claims arose while he was a pre-trial detainee at the Jefferson County Jail. He has since been returned to the Cook County Department of Corrections, where he was confined at the time he filed this action.

         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 First Amended 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).

         The First Amended Complaint (Doc. 10)

         In November 2016, Plaintiff was transferred from Cook County to the Jefferson County Jail ("the Jail"). (Doc. 10, p. 9). Plaintiff had been on regular doses of psychiatric medications for about 4 years, and he notified the Jail nurse that he needed these medications. However, he received only one of his prescriptions (veneflexin). Plaintiff informed 2 lieutenants and "every officer on the first and second shift" that he had not been given his medications. He filed a grievance as well. On November 14, 2016, Captain Mount notified Plaintiff that he would not be medicated in the Jail, but would only be medicated under the care of his "parenting facility medical department." (Doc. 10, p. 10).

         Plaintiff submitted multiple additional grievances over the medication denial, to no avail. He told Mount and the John/Jane Doe Lieutenant(s) and C/O's that he intended to file a federal lawsuit if he did not get his prescribed medication. (Doc. 1, p. 10). He then took the step of writing to the "Office of Professional Review" to complain about the refusal by the Jail nurses and other officials to provide him with his prescribed psychiatric medications. That letter was lost and unaccounted for as a result of the alleged defects in the Jail's outgoing mail procedures -and that incident prompted Plaintiff to bring Count 2 of the instant action. (Doc. 10, p. 10).

         Plaintiff discovered that a different outgoing personal letter was placed in another inmate's envelope and delivered to the other inmate's relative.[2] (Doc. 10, p. 10). He claims that this occurred because of the Jail's policy that detainees are not allowed to seal their mail in an envelope, but instead must leave it open for inspection by Jail staff. Plaintiff hand-delivered his outgoing mail to the C/O in charge, and was told by Officer Gorden that she had personally logged his mail. However, when Plaintiff filed a grievance over the missing mail (which presumably included the letter to the Office of Professional Review), the response informed him that his letters were never logged, and there was no explanation of what happened to his outgoing mail. (Doc. 10, p. II).

         Plaintiff asserts that the denial of his medications subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of his constitutional rights. (Doc. 10, pp. 10, 12). He seeks damages and injunctive relief with respect to his need to have his prescribed medications, and to stop the Jail from continuing its policy forbidding inmates from sealing their own mail. (Doc. 10, p. 13). As to the requests for injunctive relief, Plaintiff asserts that because he is still being held pending trial on a Cook County charge, he may be transferred back to the Jefferson County Jail if his case is continued. (Doc. 10, p. 11). If that were to occur, he could again be subjected to the constitutional violations complained of in this action.

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         Based on the allegations of the First Amended Complaint, the Court shall add an additional count to the pro se action.[3] The parties and the Court will use the designations below 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 without prejudice. The counts under consideration herein are:

Count 2: First Amendment claim against Officer John Doe #2 and Lt. Jane Doe #1, for the mishandling and loss of Plaintiff s two ...

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