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Beard v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 25, 2017

LIONEL R. BEARD, #11819-040, Plaintiff,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ASSISTANT MANAGER HUMPHRIES, and FRED FALMIER, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. Phil Gilbert District Judge

         This matter is now before the Court for consideration of the First Amended Complaint (Docs. 12, 12-1) filed by Plaintiff Lionel Beard, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Greenville, Illinois (FCI-Greenville). Plaintiff claims that he was verbally and physically assaulted by a UNICOR factory supervisor (Fred Falmier) at the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois (USP-Marion), on August 11, 2015. (Doc. 12-1). An assistant manager (Humphries) who was present during the incident did not intervene or otherwise attempt to stop the assault. (Doc. 12-1, pp. 3-4). When Plaintiff filed a formal complaint, he was transferred to USP-Marion's Special Housing Unit (SHU), where he remained for at least five months while the matter was investigated. (Doc. 12-1, p. 4). Before he was ever interviewed, Plaintiff was transferred to FCI-Greenville. Id. He now seeks monetary relief for the negligence and/or deliberate indifference of these federal officials under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-80. (Doc. 12-1, p. 7).

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the First 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 are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009). The First Amended Complaint survives screening under this standard.

         First Amended Complaint

         During his incarceration at USP-Marion, Plaintiff claims that he was verbally and physically assaulted while working for UNICOR, a government corporation within the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) that offers industrial work programs and training opportunities for federal prisoners. (Doc. 12-1). On August 11, 2015, the employee supervisor, Fred Falmier, used racial slurs while “violently shoving” Plaintiff. (Doc. 12-1, p. 3). He suffered bruising as a result of the incident. (Doc. 12-1, pp. 3-4).

         Assistant Manager Humphries “witnessed the exchange.” (Doc. 12-1, p. 4). However, Humphries did not intervene to stop the assault or assist Plaintiff in filing a complaint against Falmier. Id. Plaintiff asked Humphries to review video footage of the incident, but it is not clear whether Humphries did so. Id.

         When Plaintiff filed a formal complaint on his own, he was transferred into USP-Marion's SHU on August 13, 2015. (Doc. 12-1, p. 4). He remained there while the matter was under investigation. Id. On September 24, 2015, a Special Investigative Supervisor, named Lieutenant Malcolm, [1] informed Plaintiff that the institutional level investigation was complete, and the matter had been referred to the Office of Inspector General. Id. After five months, Lieutenant Malcolm informed Plaintiff that the case was referred back to the institutional level for review. Id. Plaintiff repeatedly asked when he would be interviewed, but he never was. Id. Eventually, Plaintiff was transferred to FCI-Greenville “for his own protection.” Id. He now claims that prison officials failed to protect him from a substantial risk of serious harm in violation of the Eighth Amendment and breached the duty of care they owed to him under Illinois negligence law. (Doc. 12-1, p. 5).

         Discussion

         To facilitate the orderly management of future proceedings in this case, and in accordance with the objectives of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(e) and 10(b), the Court has re-organized the claims in ...


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