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Middendorf v. Smith

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 26, 2017

DUSTIN MIDDENDORF, # B85556, Plaintiff,
v.
R. SMITH, and STRAUB, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. Phil Gilbert United States District Judge

         In Middendorf v. McLaurn, Case No. 17-cv-538-JPG (S.D. Ill. Oct. 4, 2017), Plaintiff Dustin Middendorf, an inmate in Sheridan Correctional Center, brought suit for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pursuant to George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007), two claims against Defendants Smith and Straub were severed from that initial action to form the basis for this action, Case No. 17-cv-908-JPG.

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of those claims 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).

         After fully considering the relevant allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint, the Court concludes that this action is subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         The allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 2) relevant to this severed action are as follows: on March 3, 2017, Officer Straub told Plaintiff he had authority “to do as he pleased” while searching Plaintiff's cell. (Doc. 2, p. 8). Officer Smith and Lieutenant Prinler took batteries that Plaintiff purchased from the commissary and other personal belongings without any explanation or documentation. Id. Officer Wagner called inmates “bitches” over the intercom in March 2017. Id. Officer Knipp told another inmate that he “would shoot him in the head.” Id. As a result of this harassment and the lack of emergency call buttons in the cells, Plaintiff felt unsafe. Id.

         On February 2, 2017, St. Clair County was allegedly subject to a “boil order.” (Doc. 1, p. 9). At 8:00 a.m. on that date, Plaintiff began requesting fresh water. Id. Officer Green, who worked at the command center, was unresponsive. Id. A nurse who was passing out bottled water with medication refused to give Plaintiff any. Id. Officer Smith told Plaintiff that the “administration” said he could drink the water because the boil order was not in effect for St. Clair County. Id. When Plaintiff asked why the nurse was passing out bottled water, Officer Smith said that the boil order “was over.” Id. When Plaintiff asked the nurse if Officer Smith's statements were true, the nurse said, “if he says so.” Id. Plaintiff began drinking the water. Id. At 11:00 a.m., Officer Green used the intercom to instruct inmates not to drink the water. Id. Signs to this effect were also posted, and bottled water was distributed at lunch. Id. Plaintiff began suffering from stomach pain and headaches in the hours after drinking the Jail's water. (Doc. 1, p. 9). He submitted sick call slips and “captain complaints” to complain about Officer Smith's actions. Id. Plaintiff received no response. Id.

         Discussion

         In its Severance Order (Doc. 1), the Court designated the following counts to be severed into this pro se action. The parties and the Court will continue to use these designations in all future pleadings and ...


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