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Young v. State

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 19, 2017

THOMAS L. YOUNG, # A-66460, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE of ILLINOIS, OFFICER HUFFMAN, OFFICER HUNTER, OFFICER HARJU, and OFFICER SMILIE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Sheridan Correctional Center, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His claims arose while he was a prisoner at the Jackson County Jail (“the Jail”). Plaintiff sues a sheriff's deputy who assaulted him, and includes other county officers who witnessed the attack. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Under § 1915A, the Court is required 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).

         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 “no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.” 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. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Applying these standards, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claims against some of the Defendants survive threshold review under § 1915A.

         The Complaint

Plaintiff states that he was incarcerated at the Jail for 3 months. On February 27, 2017, he was convicted of unlawful use of a debit card, and was sentenced to 3 years in the Department of Corrections. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Earlier during Plaintiff's detention, Officer Huffman informed Plaintiff that the debit card involved in Plaintiff's case belonged to his mother, and Huffman would make sure Plaintiff went to prison. Huffman harassed Plaintiff during his 3 months in the Jail.

         On March 8, 2017, Plaintiff was handcuffed and shackled in preparation for his transfer to Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”) along with 2 other convicts. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Huffman started an argument with Plaintiff, saying that he “hope[d] that [Plaintiff] do[es] every day of [his] sentence.” Id. Plaintiff responded that the only thing he regrets was that it wasn't Huffman's card. Huffman then began to beat Plaintiff on the side of his head and in his face. Plaintiff was unable to protect himself because his hands were cuffed to his waist. Id.

         Officer Hunter and a coworker saw Huffman beating Plaintiff but did nothing to stop the attack. Hunter's only comment was, “Oh shit! The camera's on.” Id. On another page of the Complaint, in Plaintiff's list of the parties, he states that Officer Harju witnessed the assault. (Doc. 1, p. 2).

         After Plaintiff arrived at Menard, he saw a doctor and had x-rays to document that his injures did not occur at Menard. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff was told that no bones were broken, but his eye was injured and he still has trouble with it.

         Plaintiff also names the State of Illinois as a Defendant (Doc. 1, p. 1), and lists Officer Smilie as another party (Doc. 1, p. 2). Regarding Officer Smilie, Plaintiff states that “he is a witness in that he saw the damage to my face and was told what happen[ed].” (Doc. 1, p. 2).

         Plaintiff seeks monetary relief for the violation of his rights. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

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

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following 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 designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit. Any other claim that is ...


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