United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
RICHARD G. ALLEN, # B-02617, Plaintiff,
KIMBERLY BUTLER, C/O HANKS, SGT. BERNER, SGT. BEBOUT, C/O NARUP, C/O CHILDS, C/O MERCER, C/O BRAKING, C/O JAMES, JOHN DOE Other Responding Officers, COFFEE, MEYER, JOHN DOE Placement Officer, JOHN DOE Nurses, KENT BROOKS, and TEARANCE JACKSON, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN CHIEF JUDGE.
currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center
(“Pinckneyville”), has brought this pro
se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. His claims arose during his imprisonment at Menard
Correctional Center (“Menard”). Plaintiff claims
that he was attacked by a cellmate who was known to have
attacked his previous cellmates. Officers allowed the assault
to continue, and Plaintiff's injuries were not adequately
treated. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary
review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
§ 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.
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.
about November 4, 2015, Plaintiff's cellmate (Sankey)
attacked and severely beat him. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff
alleges that Sankey was mentally ill and had physically
attacked his 2 prior cellmates, facts which were known to the
John Doe Placement Officer and other administrative officials
including then-Warden Butler. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 15). Plaintiff
was placed into the cell with Sankey some 2-3 weeks before
the attack. (Doc. 1, p. 7). When Plaintiff was first brought
to the cell, Sankey warned officers that he did not want a
cellmate and they should not put anyone else in with him.
(Doc. 1, p. 6). Hearing these threats, Plaintiff asked not to
be forced into the cell, but the officers told him they had
no other cell, and the tactical team would force him in if he
refused to enter - so Plaintiff complied. This was a
segregation cell with a steel door and plexiglass covering
the door and windows, which had no “panic button,
” and was located at the back of the gallery,
lengthening officers' response time in the event of a
as Plaintiff was in the cell, nearby inmates began yelling to
warn Plaintiff that Sankey was crazy and attacks his cellies.
Later that day, Sankey began talking to himself about wanting
to kill somebody, then threatened to kill Plaintiff. During
the night Sankey would jump up screaming, talking to the
walls, and punching the walls and air.
next day, Plaintiff informed Hanks of his safety concerns.
Hanks told Plaintiff to write a grievance and walked away.
(Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff wrote several emergency grievances
to the warden (presumably Butler), but got no response.
following day, Plaintiff alerted several officers of the
death threats. In response, Hanks told Plaintiff he
wasn't the placement officer and Plaintiff should
“quit being a pussy.” (Doc. 1, p. 7). Mental
health workers Coffee and Meyer documented Plaintiff's
fears and his request to move, but told him they could not do
anything. After this, Sankey repeated his death threats and
began pushing and shoving Plaintiff. While Plaintiff was on
the yard, he told Bebout and other John Doe Officers about
the threats. Bebout responded, “this is survival of the
fittest … unless it's physical we ain't moving
your ass. So, you know what you gotta do.” (Doc. 1, p.
7). Plaintiff remained in the cell for 2-3 more weeks. During
that time, Hanks observed Sankey pushing Plaintiff, and told
him to “knock it off.” Id. Plaintiff
again asked to be moved, but Hanks responded that was
“not [his] call.” Id.
November 4, 2015, Sankey attacked Plaintiff, punching his
face, stabbing him with an ink pen, brutally kicking him, and
choking him. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8). Mercer sounded a panic alert.
Officers Braking, Narup, James, Childs, Berner, and several
John Doe Officers responded. Plaintiff bit Sankey during the
attack, and got Sankey's blood in his mouth. The
Defendants began spraying mace into the cell, while making
comments including, “Ooh, I got that fucker in the
mouth . . . in the eyes! Ooh! Get him again!” while the
attack continued. (Doc. 1, p. 8).
Plaintiff was pleading for help, he heard an officer say to
“cuff up” and they would open the door. He broke
free and ran to the chuckhole, where he allowed himself to be
cuffed behind his back. Sankey then resumed the attack.
Instead of opening the door, the officers continued to watch
the beating. Mercer said, “We don't open the door
until both individuals ‘cuff up' willingly.
That's our policy.” Id. They refused
Plaintiff's entreaties to open the door, telling him
that's what he gets “for being a dumb ass and
cuffing up first, ” and “take it like a
man.” Id. One officer said they should at
least take Plaintiff's cuffs off to let him fight; Mercer
responded, “I'm gonna let the other guy have a
little fun with him.” Id. While the officers
watched, Sankey banged Plaintiff's head against the steel
bed and cell wall. Each time Plaintiff was able to run to the
door, officers would spray him in the face, eyes, and mouth
with mace. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Eventually, Sankey was overcome by
the mace and cuffed up.
was taken to a holding cell and was seen by a Jane Doe Nurse.
She refused to give Plaintiff anything to counteract the
burning effects of the mace, and gave him only Motrin for
pain. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff asked for an antibiotic shot
because he had bitten Sankey on the neck, but the Jane Doe
Nurse refused. Plaintiff asserts that Sankey was given a
tetanus shot, but he did not get one.
was moved to another cell, which was dirty, smelled of urine,
and had feces smeared on the walls. (Doc. 1, p. 10). The
mattress was damaged and impossible to sleep on. His skin was
red and beginning to peel, and he suffered eye problems
including black spots in his eyes, but he never received any
treatment to counteract the mace or the pain. Some 20 days
after the attack, Plaintiff saw another nurse, who told him
that the skin redness would “burn itself out” and
did nothing else for him. Id.
November 10, 2015, Plaintiff was called to a disciplinary
hearing, but he had never been given prior notice or a copy
of the ticket. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Plaintiff told Adjustment
Committee members Brookman and Jackson about the lack of notice,
but they refused to believe him. Brooks said that they had
“gotten the word on you already and no matter what you
say your [sic] gonna be guilty.” (Doc. 1, p. 11).
Brooks and Jackson found Plaintiff guilty of fighting; their
summary of the proceeding falsely stated that he admitted
guilt. (Doc. 1-1, p. 11). He was punished with 1 month in
segregation, and 1 month of C-grade and commissary
restriction. Id. Plaintiff complains that the lack
of notice and the panel's pre-judgment of the
disciplinary matter violated his due process rights.
Plaintiff wrote numerous grievances over the disciplinary
matter; all but 1 were never answered. (Doc. 1, p. 12). He
complains that the mishandling of grievances is an ongoing
problem at Menard, and gives an example of Menard officers
tearing up 2 of his grievances in front of Plaintiff's
cell while he watched. (Doc. 1, p. 13).
about December 30, 2015, Plaintiff was transferred from
Menard segregation to Pontiac Correctional Center's
Maximum Segregation Unit (“Pontiac”). (Doc. 1, p.
13). While there, he filed a grievance directly to the
Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) over the
events at Menard.
received some treatment at Pontiac for the physical injuries
he suffered during the attack at Menard, as well as the
psychological effects, which included nightmares, hearing
voices, and insomnia. Plaintiff was ultimately diagnosed with
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and borderline schizophrenia.
Plaintiff was prescribed Risperdol and other psychiatric
medications (for the first time in his life) to help him
sleep. (Doc. 1, p. 14). He is still receiving psychiatric
care, and still suffers from fear of officers and other
inmates. (Doc. 1, p. 15.)
about April 20, 2016, Plaintiff was transferred to
Stateville. He continues to have problems with his eyes,
including seeing black spots. He still has shoulder pain.
(Doc. 1, p. 14).
asserts that Butler and the John Doe Placement Officer must
have been aware of Sankey's history of attacking his
cellmates, because the warden (Butler) is responsible for
signing off on cell placements and disciplinary tickets.
Further, these officials had been placed on notice of the
long history of violence at Menard as well as the deficient
grievance system, based on the reports of the John Howard
Association (which Plaintiff attaches to the Complaint).
(Doc. 1, pp. 15-16; Doc. 1-1, pp. 25-26; Doc. 1-2; Doc. 1-3,
seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as a
“policy change” to Menard officers' procedure
of refusing to intervene in an attack until both cellmates
voluntarily cuff up. (Doc. 1, p. 17; Doc. 1-3, p. 25).
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to divide the prose 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 ...