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Hanks v. Heck

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 30, 2017

SEAN HANKS, # M-48627, Plaintiff,
v.
CHARLES HECK, and MARCUS MYER, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court for review of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. 10), which was timely filed at the direction of the Court. (Doc. 8). The original Complaint was dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center (“Pontiac”) and brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on events that occurred while he was confined at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”). Plaintiff asserts that he suffers from serious mental illness and claims that he was improperly punished with disciplinary segregation. The disciplinary action was later expunged. Applying the requirements of § 1915A to the First Amended Complaint, the Court concludes that Plaintiff's due process claim merits further review.

         The First Amended Complaint (Doc. 10)

         On June 28, 2015, while Plaintiff was at Pinckneyville, Adjustment Committee members Heck and Myer found him guilty of damage/misuse of property. Plaintiff was not given a hearing and was not present for the determination of guilt. (Doc. 10, p. 9). Without a hearing, he was unable to call witnesses or present a defense. (Doc. 10, p. 13).

         Plaintiff was punished with 4 months in disciplinary segregation, lost 2 months of good conduct credit and was ordered to pay restitution. Approximately 3 weeks after the disciplinary finding, Plaintiff was transferred from Pinckneyville to Dixon Correctional Center (“Dixon”). He was on “Emergency Mental Health Observation” because he was “unstable.” (Doc. 10, p. 9).

         While at Dixon, Plaintiff submitted a grievance claiming that the disciplinary proceeding violated his due process rights. The Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) ultimately ruled in Plaintiff's favor and recommended that the disciplinary action be expunged and his good conduct credits be restored. The ARB confirmed that the final summary of Plaintiff's disciplinary proceeding did not reflect that Plaintiff had a right to a mental health representative during the hearing. (Doc. 10, p. 10). Plaintiff notes that he had no hearing at all. Despite the success of Plaintiff's grievance, he had already served the entire 4 months of segregation by the time the ARB ruled. (Doc. 10, p. 11).

         Plaintiff asserts that the conditions of his 4-month segregation confinement were substandard and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. He was confined to his cell for 24 hours per day at least 4 days per week. (Doc. 10, pp. 11, 14-15). The segregation environment combined with his mental health condition(s) caused Plaintiff to decompensate, mutilate himself, experience panic attacks and prompted staff to put him on suicide watch. Id. The poor condition of his mattress[1] caused him to develop a rash that covered large parts of his torso. A large part of Plaintiff's segregation time was served at Dixon, where he did not receive adequate mental health services. The lack of contact visits, phone privileges, haircuts and “grooming measures”[2]contributed to Plaintiff's distress and decompensation. He was not provided with adequate medical or dental care. (Doc. 10, p. 12). In an attached affidavit, Plaintiff states that he suffered from an unspecified painful dental condition but received no pain medication. (Doc. 10, p. 16).

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Doc. 10, p. 23).

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         Based on the allegations of the First Amended Complaint, the Court shall divide the pro se 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 mentioned in the First Amended Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice.

Count 1: Fourteenth Amendment claim for deprivation of a liberty interest without due process against Heck and Myer, who found Plaintiff guilty of a disciplinary infraction and punished him with segregation, without allowing Plaintiff to be present at a hearing, submit a defense, or call witnesses;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim for subjecting Plaintiff to cruel and unusual punishment by confining him in punitive segregation while he suffered from ...

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