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Bankston v. Vandalia Correctional Center

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 13, 2017

RINALDO BANKSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
VANDALIA CORRECTIONAL CENTER Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN U.S. CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Rinaldo Bankston, an inmate in Shawnee Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for events that occurred at Vandalia Correctional Center. Plaintiff requests financial compensation. 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; this action is subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that the buildings and facilities at Vandalia Correctional Center are not “up to code” and thus he is at risk to be harmed. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-9). Specifically, he alleges that he might be subjected to lead poisoning, that someone (including him) might break one of the glass windows at the prison and use it to make a weapon, that the lack of air conditioning might cause him to become dehydrated, that he might get an infection, that the building is at risk of fire, that he can smell the toilets in the dormitory, that his soda is too hot in the summer, that the use of fans might exacerbate his allergies, that there's a scabies outbreak, that he caught toe fungus from used boots, and that Vandalia does not have security cameras. Id.

         Discussion

         At this stage, Plaintiff's Complaint fails because he has not named a proper defendant. Vandalia Correctional Center, which is a division of the Illinois Department of Corrections, is not a “person” within the meaning of the Civil Rights Act, and is not subject to a § 1983 suit. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). See also Wynn v. Southward, 251 F.3d 588, 592 (7th Cir. 2001) (Eleventh Amendment bars suits against states in federal court for money damages); Billman v. Ind. Dep't of Corr., 56 F.3d 785, 788 (7th Cir. 1995) (state Department of Corrections is immune from suit by virtue of Eleventh Amendment); Hughes v. Joliet Corr. Ctr., 931 F.2d 425, 427 (7th Cir. 1991) (same); Santiago v. Lane, 894 F.2d 219, 220 n. 3 (7th Cir. 1990) (same). The Court will allow Plaintiff to amend the Complaint in order to name a proper defendant.

         Plaintiff should take note that there is no supervisory liability in a § 1983 action; thus to be held individually liable, a defendant must be “‘personally responsible for the deprivation of a constitutional right.'” Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 740 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Chavez v. Ill. State Police, 251 F.3d 612, 651 (7th Cir. 2001). Plaintiff may only name those who were directly involved in the actions he complains of.

         Plaintiff should also be aware that many of his allegations are mere speculation. Plaintiff has not alleged that he was actually harmed by many of the conditions he complains of; he only alleges that he “might” be harmed. Plaintiff cannot recover compensatory damages unless he has suffered a physical injury. 42 U.S.C. 1997e(e) (“No Federal Civil action may be brought by a prisoner confined in a jail, prison, or other correctional facility, for mental or emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior showing of physical injury. . .”). The ...


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