United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
R. HERNDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Baha Al Momani, an inmate who is currently incarcerated in
Western Illinois Correctional Center, filed a civil rights
action against officials at Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
(Doc. 12). Plaintiff alleges that he was violently attacked
and seriously injured by his cellmate, after he repeatedly
requested and was denied a cell transfer by Menard officials
in 2015. (Doc. 12, pp. 1-39). He now brings this suit against
the officials who denied his requests for a transfer before
and after the attack, including Kimberly Butler (warden),
Engelage (officer), Mrs. Creason (mental health counselor),
and Menard's Placement Office. Id. Plaintiff
seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief against the
defendants. (Doc. 12, p. 6).
First Amended Complaint is subject to preliminary review
under 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
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 amended complaint survives screening
under this standard.
September 17, 2015, Plaintiff was brutally attacked by his
cellmate at Menard. (Doc. 12, p. 23.) The attack occurred in
Cell 754 of Menard's North 2 Cell House between
12:00-12:50 a.m. (Doc. 12, pp. 13, 23). Although he offers no
details regarding the actual attack, Plaintiff alleges that
he sustained serious and life-threatening injuries as a
result of it, including head trauma, broken teeth, and
fractures to his skull, eye socket, and cheek bone. (Doc. 12,
pp. 14, 23).
was initially taken to Memorial Hospital in Chester,
Illinois, for treatment. (Doc. 12, p. 23). He was then
transferred to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri,
for zygomatic surgery. (Doc. 12, pp. 23-24). Platinum plates
and screws were placed along his zygomatic bone and arch.
(Doc. 12, p. 24). He spent more than a month recovering in
the prison's health care unit following surgery.
Id. However, Plaintiff still suffers from lasting
injuries that include chronic migraines, left cheek numbness,
post-traumatic stress disorder, paranoia, and anxiety
attacks. (Doc. 12, pp. 15, 24).
alleges that the attack was avoidable. (Doc. 12, p. 10). On
September 1, 2015, Plaintiff informed Officer Engelage that
his cellmate, Marcos Bailey, threatened to beat him up.
Id. Plaintiff told the officer that Inmate Bailey
had a much higher aggression level and continued bullying him
even after making the threat. Id. He expressed fear
for his safety and requested a cell transfer. Id.
Engelage instructed Plaintiff to write him a kite. (Doc. 12,
p. 10). Plaintiff did so. Id. In it, he identified
the names of several other inmates who were aware of the
situation. Id. He received no response. (Doc. 12, p.
11). A week later, Plaintiff stopped Officer Engelage and
asked him about the status of his request for a cell
transfer. (Doc. 12, p. 11). Plaintiff again expressed fear
for his life. Id. Officer Engelage told Plaintiff
that he lost the original kite and asked him to submit
another one. Id. Plaintiff immediately did so, and
the officer said that he would “see what he can
do.” Id. Still fearing for his life, Plaintiff
wrote a direct request for a cell transfer to Menard's
Placement Office. (Doc. 12, p. 11). He challenged the
original decision to place him in a cell with a highly
aggressive cellmate who had a known history of inmate and
staff assaults. Id. Plaintiff also sent a kite to
Counselor Creason, a mental health professional at the
prison. (Doc. 12, p. 11). Around the same time, several other
inmates asked Counselor Creason to transfer Plaintiff into a
cell with one of them. Id. The counselor allegedly
took no action to help Plaintiff “until the fight
occur[r]ed” on September 17, 2015. (Doc. 12, pp. 11-12,
the attack, Plaintiff was transferred into segregation for
thirty days. (Doc. 12, p. 12). However, the Placement Office
moved him into Cell 916 in the East Cell House next to Inmate
Bailey's cousin in Cell 915 and near Inmate Bailey in
Cell 521. Id. Plaintiff and Inmate Bailey
encountered one another in the prison yard during outdoor
recreation. Id. Plaintiff complained about the
dangerous housing arrangement to Officer Reese, who advised
him to ask Lieutenant Sumolak for a transfer. (Doc. 12, p. 13).
Plaintiff did so, but received no help for at least three
weeks. Id. During this same general time ...