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Wiggins v. Baldwin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 25, 2017

MALCOLM WIGGINS, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN BALDWIN, JOSEPH YURKOVICH, ALFONSO DAVID, APOSTLE, TAMMY PITTAYATHIHAN, JEFFERY DENNISON, JOHN DOE, and UNKNOWN TACTICAL TEAM MEMBERS Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          David R. Herndon United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Malcolm Wiggins, an inmate in Illinois River Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that occurred at Shawnee Correctional Center. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief. 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).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         On August 8, 2016, while at Shawnee Correctional Center, Plaintiff's cell was shaken down by the Orange Crush tactical team. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Dennison ordered the shakedown after a gang fight. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff claims he had nothing to do with the gang fight, and that the gang members had already been taken to segregation. Id. Plaintiff concludes that Dennison's purpose in ordering the shakedown was to hurt, harm, scare, and retaliate against inmates. Id.

         Plaintiff was housed in cell #34, 1 House, D-wing. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff alleges that he was specifically targeted because he was known to file grievances. (Doc. 1, p. 9). As a result of the shakedown, Plaintiff's cell was trashed, food and soap were poured on his clothes and legal work, and $92.27 worth of personal property was taken and destroyed by an unknown Orange Crush Member. Id.

         John Doe and an unknown Orange Crush Member stripped searched Plaintiff and then cuffed him. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff alleges that Doe had Plaintiff turn his palms out and his thumbs up prior to placing the handcuffs on Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff alleges that this is a stressful position that causes twisting in the shoulders and pain. Id. Additionally, Plaintiff was forced to hold his head to his chest for over 2 hours. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Doe, Unknown Orange Crush Member, Yurkovich, and others were put on notice about the nature of this position by prior lawsuits, grievances, and complaints. Id.

         Plaintiff immediately felt pain after being cuffed. (Doc. 1, p. 6). He asked Doe to loosen the cuffs, but Doe refused. Id. As a result of the too-tight handcuffs, Plaintiff experienced hand numbness, swelling, shoulder pain, and a lump on his collarbone and A.C. joint. Id.

         During the strip search, Plaintiff was forced to touch his genitals and then spread his buttocks. (Doc. 1, p. 7). He was then instructed to put his fingers in his mouth without being able to wash his hands prior. Id. Plaintiff specifically asked if he could wash his hands, but Doe and the Unknown Orange Crush Member threatened to beat Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff was then forced to walk to the inmate dining room in a “nuts to butts” position. Id. Plaintiff alleges that he suffered emotional distress, anxiety, and other psychological injuries as a result of these actions. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that Warden Jeffery Dennison and Joseph Yurkovich turned a blind eye to the conduct. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Specifically, he alleges that there is a practice in the IDOC to conduct shakedowns in this manner, and that Yurkovich has overseen this practice. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Yurkovich encouraged this conduct and also failed to punish past incidents of similar misconduct. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that he saw Dr. Apostle on August 24, 2016, and Dr. Alfonso David and Tammy Pittayathihan on September 26, 2016 in reference to the injuries he received during the shakedown. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Plaintiff alleges that defendants failed to schedule a timely medical examination and/or treatment. (Doc. 1, p. 11). They have refused to give Plaintiff an MRI or send him to an orthopedist. (Doc. 1, p. 12). This refusal has left Plaintiff in severe pain, limited his range of motion, and caused emotional distress. (Doc. 1, p. 11).

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into 7 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 following claims survive threshold review:

Count 1 - John Doe used excessive force on Plaintiff when he cuffed his hands too tightly, causing injury in violation ...

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