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Coleman v. Lindenberg

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 19, 2017

DWAINE COLEMAN, # B-62923, Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. LINDENBERG, C/O WASSON, C/O CORNSTOBBLE, SGT. TAYLOR, UNKNOWN PARTY #2 (Intel Officer), and AFSCME, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This action contains eight claims that were severed from Plaintiff's original lawsuit filed in this Court on May 16, 2017, now pending as Coleman v. Lashbrook, et. al., Case No. 17-cv-518-DRH-SCW. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff's claims arose from his incarceration at Menard Correctional Center, where he was confined when he brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Among other claims, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by sexually harassing him, retaliating against him when he complained about that treatment, and depriving him of due process.

         In the Court's initial case management order (Doc. 1), Counts 1-8 of the Complaint were severed into the instant case pursuant to George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007). Four other claims against different Defendants remained in the original action.

         Counts 1-8 are now before the Court for the mandatory merits review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Section 1915A requires the Court 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 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). As explained below, the Court finds that some of Plaintiff's claims survive threshold review under § 1915A.

         The Complaint

         The portions of the Complaint (Doc. 2) that relate to Counts 1-8 are as follows:

         Plaintiff arrived at Menard on March 1, 2017, and was placed in cell 814 on North Two Segregation. On March 17, 2017, Sgt. Lindenberg “threatened and sexually harassed” Plaintiff. (Doc. 2, p. 6). Plaintiff made a PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) complaint against Lindenberg. On March 18, 2017, Lindenberg retaliated against Plaintiff by “taking [his] outside recreation.” Id.

         On March 30, 2017, Officers Wasson and Cornstobble told other inmates that Plaintiff “was a homosexual snitch for making a PREA report on Sgt. Lindenberg.” Id. Wasson and Cornstobble also walked past Plaintiff's cell saying “PREA I suck dick” in an antagonistic manner. Id. Plaintiff requested a crisis team. Sgt. Taylor retaliated against Plaintiff for this request by stripping Plaintiff of all his property, without Plaintiff being found guilty of any rule violation or receiving a shakedown or inventory slip listing the items confiscated.

         Plaintiff was moved to cell 417, where Taylor, Cornstobble, and Wasson had “rigged” his sink “so water would explode and soak [Plaintiff's] cell.” (Doc. 2, p. 6). Plaintiff was injured when, while attempting to avoid the “exploding” water, he fell and hurt his head, neck, and back. Id. He was given no medical attention, and was in the cell “wet and in pain” for two days.

         The Unknown Party #2 Intel Officer “insinuated retaliation for [the] PREA report and ridiculed [Plaintiff] and closed both investigations [“first time” and water incident] without talking to any of [Plaintiff's] listed witnesses.” (Doc. 2, p. 6).

         AFSCME has created a policy that emboldens bad acts against inmates on the part of its members. This is evidenced by AFSCME members who “routinely brag” that they can kill inmates without repercussions. Plaintiff quotes Cornstobble as claiming that he could “kill one of you scumbags and the union will protect me and even get me paid leave for my emotional distress for murdering you.” (Doc. 2, p. 7).

         Plaintiff seeks declaratory and monetary relief. (Doc. 2, p. 9).

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

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court's initial order (Doc. 1) divided the pro se action into a number of claims. Of these, Counts 1-8 are included in this lawsuit. 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 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 (or in the Order at Doc. 1) should be considered dismissed without prejudice.

Count 1: Lindenberg subjected Plaintiff to cruel and unusual punishment by threatening and sexually harassing him in violation of the Eight Amendment;
Count 2: Lindenberg retaliated against Plaintiff for making a PREA report in violation of the First Amendment by taking his outside recreation on March 18, 2017;
Count 3: Wasson and Cornstobble retaliated against Plaintiff for making a PREA report in violation of the First Amendment by telling other inmates Plaintiff was a homosexual and antagonizing him outside of his cell on March 30, 2017;
Count 4: Taylor retaliated against Plaintiff for requesting a crisis team in violation of the First Amendment by stripping him of his property without his being found guilty of any rule violations;
Count 5: Taylor violated Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment right to due process by stripping him of his property without his being found guilty of any rule violations and without providing him with a shakedown or inventory slip for confiscated property;
Count 6: Taylor, Cornstobble, and Wasson subjected Plaintiff to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment by tampering with his sink causing water to erupt from it, which ...

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