United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Phil Gilbert United States District Judge
currently incarcerated at the Cook County Department of
Corrections (“CCDC”), has brought this pro
se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. His claims arose while he was detained at the Jefferson
County Jail (“the Jail”). Plaintiff raises a
number of claims, including being confined in disciplinary
segregation without due process, deliberate indifference to a
serious dental condition, and substandard conditions of
confinement. This case is now before the Court for a
preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 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).
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).
these standards, the Court finds that some of Plaintiff's
claims survive threshold review under § 1915A.
Complaint was filed shortly after Plaintiff was transferred
from the Jail back to his original housing facility, the
CCDC. (Doc. 1, p. 2).
around 10:30 a.m. on March 15, 2017, Plaintiff was sent to
the Jail's segregation unit and remained there for 10
days without any hearing on his disciplinary ticket. (Doc. 1,
p. 9). At approximately 3:30 p.m. on March 15, 2017, Lt.
Hanes came to Plaintiff's segregation cell and told
Plaintiff to sign papers containing the hearing board finding
that Plaintiff was guilty of the disciplinary charges. (Doc.
1, pp. 9-10). Plaintiff refused to sign, telling Hanes that
he had not been given a hearing. Hanes threatened Plaintiff
with 20 more days in segregation if he did not sign.
Plaintiff insisted he would not sign until he was given a
hearing. Hanes responded, “this is your hearing,
” explaining that Captain Mount had printed out some
emails, and Hanes made his decision based on them. (Doc. 1,
p. 10). When Plaintiff still refused to sign, Hanes became
“very aggressive” and pulled out his taser gun.
Id. Hanes told Plaintiff to “sign the f***ing
ticket or get f***ed up.” Id. Plaintiff would
not sign, so Hanes entered the cell and punched Plaintiff
twice in the face. Hanes then told Plaintiff he would be
doing 30 days in the hole since he wouldn't sign the
papers. (Doc. 1, p. 11). This incident was still under
investigation by the sheriff's office when Plaintiff
filed the instant Complaint.
wrote grievances requesting a hearing on the disciplinary
charges that led to his placement in segregation, but Mount
responded that Plaintiff had been given a hearing on March
15. (Doc. 1, p. 9).
March 6, 2017, Plaintiff submitted a medical grievance asking
for 2 painful wisdom teeth to be pulled. (Doc. 1, p. 11).
Nurse Sheryl told Plaintiff that an appointment was made for
him. However, the appointment never happened. Plaintiff made
several other requests, and filed grievances to Mount, but
Sheryl never made him a dental appointment. At some point,
Plaintiff was taken to see the nurse (it is not clear whether
this was Sheryl). The nurse looked in Plaintiff's mouth
and told him that if he waited for the teeth to fully grow
in, the pain would stop. (Doc. 1, p. 12). When Plaintiff
insisted that he needed to see a dentist because it could
take months for the teeth to grow in, the nurse responded
that she would have to ask Mount before an appointment could
be made. No appointment was ever set, and Plaintiff continued
to suffer pain from the wisdom teeth. Plaintiff's
grievances to Mount were never answered.
4, 2017, Lt. May refused to give Plaintiff toilet tissue,
stating that each inmate was allowed only one roll per week.
(Doc. 1, p. 12). Plaintiff's grievance over the tissue
refusal was denied, and he received no response to his
attempt to file an emergency grievance with the Captain.
(Doc. 1, p. 13).
5, 2017, Plaintiff re-filed his medical grievances. Nurse
Sheryl told Plaintiff that Mount had instructed her not to
respond to any medical request. Plaintiff believes Mount told
all Jail employees to ignore grievances. (Doc. 1, p. 13).
on March 1, 2017, Plaintiff submitted several grievances to
Mount, May, and Hanes regarding inadequate meal portions and
poor nutritional value of the food served at the Jail. (Doc.
1, pp. 13-14). Breakfast, for example, consisted of a
half-pint of skim milk and a cup of cereal, which Plaintiff
believes to be less than a full cup. Dinner was 2 undercooked
cookies, a scoop of peanut butter with 2 slices of white
bread, and a half ounce of pretzels. Some inmates became
dizzy due to hunger. Plaintiff's complaints were ignored.
(Doc. 1, p. 14).
complained to Mount that his housing unit had not been
allowed to have recreation for routine exercise. Mount
responded that recreation was a privilege, and because of the
size of the “deck, ” Plaintiff's unit did not
have to go to recreation. (Doc. 1, p. 14).
Plaintiff claims that Mount and May have been purposely
erasing grievances and requests filed by Plaintiff on the
Jail's kiosk machine. (Doc. 1, p. 14). Mount admitted the
destruction to Plaintiff, saying he was not going to help
Plaintiff file a lawsuit on him. Mount further refused to
give Plaintiff copies of grievances and gave him a false
address for the FOIA office.
seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Doc. 1, p. 15).
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
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 mentioned in the
Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be
considered dismissed without prejudice.
Count 1: Hanes and Mount punished Plaintiff
with segregation without due process;
Count 2: Hanes used excessive force against
Plaintiff when he punched Plaintiff in the face;
Count 3: Sheryl and Mount were deliberately
indifferent to Plaintiff's need for treatment of his