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Donley v. McLauren

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 31, 2017

DUSTIN DONLEY Y22910, Plaintiff,


          J. PHIL GILBERT United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that his constitutional rights were violated while he was a pretrial detainee[1] at the St. Clair County Jail (“Jail”). Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center. In connection with his claims, Plaintiff names Philip McLauren (Superintendent at the Jail) and Sgt. Nichols (Supervisor at the Jail).

         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). The Complaint does not survive preliminary review under this standard.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff contends that on April 10, 2017, a boil order was in effect in Belleville, Illinois (where the Jail is located). (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff contends that “administration” and “staff” at the jail failed to inform him about the boil order. Id. Additionally, Plaintiff contends that a nurse, a correctional officer, and “supervisors” disregarded his concerns about the boil order. Id.

         Plaintiff also contends that he was “neglected” by “staff members” for 22 days because he was not given a PIN number when he was processed and, without a PIN number, he could not use the phones to call his attorney or his family. Id. Plaintiff complained to numerous individuals regarding his PIN number, including Sgt. Nichols, but all of his complaints were ignored. Id. Plaintiff also contends that he was “hindered from educating [himself] about important legal issues” because the Jail does not have an operational law library or provide adequate help in filing legal paperwork and the commissary does not sell ink pens. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff complained to staff about these issues, but Sgt. Nichols told Plaintiff he does not have a right to a law library. Id.

         Plaintiff also directs complaints against several individuals who are not defendants in the instant action. For instance, Plaintiff complains that various correctional officers cursed at him, and “downgraded” him. (Doc. 1, p. 6). He also complains that officers at the jail are unprofessional and were otherwise unhelpful. Id.

         Finally, Plaintiff contends that the showers were unsanitary and that the meals were inadequate. Id. With respect to the showers, Plaintiff complains about mold, gnats, and “other unidentified particles.” Id. Plaintiff contends that he complained about the showers to the “administration” and to “a nurse, ” but received no response. Id. With respect to meals, Plaintiff complains about inadequate portions and inadequate amounts of fruit. Id. Plaintiff alleges that “supervisors” do not care about the inadequacy of the meals.


         Applicability of Fourteenth Amendment

         Because Plaintiff was a detainee at the time of the alleged violations, the Fourteenth rather than the Eighth Amendment applies to Plaintiff's claims. Lewis v. Downey, 581 F.3d 467, 473 (7th Cir. 2009). The governing standards are functionally equivalent, and “anything that would violate the Eighth Amendment would also violate the Fourteenth Amendment.” Id. “In evaluating the constitutionality of conditions or restrictions of pretrial detention ... the proper inquiry is whether those conditions amount to punishment of the detainee.” Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 (1979). Deprivations must be “unquestioned and serious” and deprive prisoner of “the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349 (1981). Inmates ...

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