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Teen v. Lazante

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 25, 2017

ANTRELL A. TEEN, Plaintiff,
v.
M. LAZANTE and SGT. COOK, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Antrell Teen, who is currently detained at St. Clair County Jail (“Jail”) in Belleville, Illinois, filed a civil rights action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights at the Jail. See Teen v. St. Clair Cnty. Jail, No. 17-cv-594-JPG (S.D. Ill.) (“original action”). The Court severed the claims in the original action into three new cases pursuant to George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007). (Doc. 1). The instant case addresses a single claim (“Count 8”) against Officer Lazante and Sergeant Cook for subjecting Plaintiff to unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the Jail. (Doc. 1, p. 7; Doc. 2, p. 6). In connection with this claim, Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment and monetary relief against the defendants. (Doc. 2, p. 7).

         This severed case is now subject to preliminary review 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). Count 8 survives screening under this standard and shall receive further review.

         The Complaint

         According to the allegations in the Complaint, Plaintiff was housed in Cell Blocks G and H for ten months. (Doc. 2, p. 6, ¶ 21). The individual cell doors in both cell blocks did not lock. Id. Consequently, inmates roamed freely at night. Id.

         Numerous inmates sustained serious injuries during late night fights. (Doc. 2, p. 6, ¶ 21). Plaintiff regularly had to defend himself and his belongings. Id. During one such incident, he was physically injured. Id.

         Plaintiff complained about these conditions on numerous occasions. (Doc. 2, p. 6, ¶ 21). Officer Lazante received written complaints, and Sergeant Cook received verbal complaints. Id. Even so, they took no steps to address the unsafe conditions. Id.

         Discussion

         This severed case focuses on the following claim, which was designated as ...


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