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Arriaga v. Thompson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 21, 2017

BRANDON V. ARRIAGA, #M48595, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Brandon Arriaga, an inmate in Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights that allegedly occurred at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”). In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims he was attacked and harassed during his incarceration at Pinckneyville in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. 1). 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).

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, in order to state a claim, a pleading must provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1). “Rule 8(a) requires parties to make their pleadings straightforward, so that judges and adverse parties need not try to fish a gold coin from a bucket of mud.” United States ex rel. Garst v. Lockheed-Martin Corp., 328 F.3d 374, 378 (7th Cir. 2003). Rule 8 also demands that a pleading contain “a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(3).

         Plaintiffs are also required to associate specific defendants with specific claims, so that defendants are put on notice of the claims brought against them and so they can properly answer the complaint. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Merely invoking the name of a potential defendant is not sufficient to state a claim against that individual. See Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998). Moreover, vague references to a group of defendants, without specific allegations tying the individual defendants to the alleged unconstitutional conduct, do not raise a genuine issue of material fact with respect to those defendants. See Alejo v. Heller, 328 F.3d 930, 936 (7th Cir. 2003) (finding dismissal of named defendant proper where plaintiff failed to allege defendant's personal involvement in the alleged wrongdoings); Starzenski v. City of Elkhart, 87 F.3d 872, 879 (7th Cir. 1996).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to dismiss the Complaint without prejudice.

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff does not include a statement of claim, nor does he include a request for relief. In his list of defendants, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Thompson harassed him “before the access of force then multiple C/Os jumped him.” (Doc. 1, p. 1). He also notes in his list of defendants that Defendant Wolfe “allowed officers to beat [him].” (Doc. 1, p. 2). Plaintiff also attached two documents labeled “affidavits” at the end of the Complaint. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-8). The first affidavit is signed by Dean Hampton. (Doc. 1, p. 7). It claims that on July 8, 2017, Hampton witnessed “many staff member of Pinckneyville C.C. make fun of Brandon Arriaga” when Arriaga told a C/O that he was hearing voices and requested a mental health doctor. Id. Hampton claims that a C/O cursed at Arriaga and told him that he had “something good on [his] tray.” Id. Arriaga then exclaimed that “they put bugs in [his] food, ” and the C/Os laughed at him. Id.

         The next document labeled affidavit was not signed, but it states that it was written by Arriaga. (Doc. 1, p. 8). In it, Plaintiff claims that he has a current charge of aggravated battery on a peace officer at Pinckneyville, but that he “was presently hearing voices in [his] head and [he] was being harassed by officers.” Id. Plaintiff claims that he has bipolar, schizophrenia, ADHD, and PTSD. Id. Plaintiff further claims that he does not remember any assault, only arguing with staff after “officers” brutally beat him. Id.

         Plaintiff later filed a separate statement of claim and request for relief in this action. (Doc. 3). He expands on his allegations in the statement of claim, claiming that he was “brutally attacked by officers, ” tortured by bugs being put in his food, smacked, kicked, and kneed in the face, attacked by Orange Crush with a wooden stick, and his food was taken off of his trays. (Doc. 3, p. 1). On the ...

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