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McCall v. Doe

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 24, 2017

VENNIS McCALL, #K-55319, Plaintiff,
MS. WOOLED and JOHN/JANE DOE, Defendants.


          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Vennis McCall, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was denied protective custody at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”) after members of a gang, known as the Gangster Disciples, warned him that a fellow inmate put a “hit” on him. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). Plaintiff was subsequently attacked and injured by the gang members. Id. In connection with this claim, he names two internal affairs officers, C/O Wooled and C/O John/Jane Doe. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-3). Plaintiff seeks monetary relief against both. (Doc. 1, pp. 15-16).

         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 survives preliminary review under this standard.

         The Complaint

         According to the Complaint, Plaintiff is currently incarcerated for the murder of his foster family, including his foster father, mother, and brother. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-14). While serving his sentence in Menard's East Cell House on March 14, 2014, several members of the Gangster Disciples informed Plaintiff that a high-ranking gang member had put a “hit” on him. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). Shawn Gaston was the inmate who ordered the “hit.” Id. He was related to Plaintiff's foster brother and victim, Allen McCullough, and was very close to him. Id. Plaintiff was warned that he would be attacked, if he did not transfer into protective custody (“PC”).

         Plaintiff requested PC the following day. (Doc. 1, p. 9). He reported the direct threats to an unknown internal affairs officer (“C/O John/Jane Doe”). Id. Plaintiff explained that Gaston and McCullough were not only related, they were also best friends. Id. Plaintiff expressed fear for his life. (Doc. 1, p. 10).

         His request for PC was denied on March 20, 2014. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Plaintiff filed an appeal of the decision with the Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) the following day. Id. Before the appeal was decided, however, Plaintiff was sent to segregation for disciplinary reasons. Id. It is unclear how long he remained there.

         Plaintiff renewed his request for PC more than a year later on June 12, 2015. (Doc. 1, p. 10). He does not explain why but alleges that his request was unrelated to this case. Id. This second request for PC was also denied on June 22, 2015. Id. Plaintiff appealed the decision to the ARB, and his appeal was denied on August 27, 2015. Id.

         On September 6, 2015, Plaintiff was interviewed by C/O Wooled, another internal affairs officer. (Doc. 1, p. 11). Plaintiff informed C/O Wooled that Gaston was related to one of his victims. Id. He explained that Gaston held rank in the Gangster Disciples and had a significant advantage over Plaintiff “with his gang affiliation [and] man power.” Id. He expressed continued fear for his life because Gaston could plan a retaliatory ...

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