United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
JAMES C. JENNINGS, Jr., #Y14477, Plaintiff,
MR. GARNER, SHERRY BENTON, and MS. COLLINS, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE.
James Jennings, Jr., an inmate who is currently incarcerated
at Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”),
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
violations of his constitutional rights at Menard
Correctional Center (“Menard”). (Doc. 1).
Plaintiff claims that he was attacked by another inmate on
July 26, 2017, after being denied protective custody by Mr.
Garner (internal affairs officer), Ms. Collins (head
counselor), and Sherry Benton (administrative review board
chairperson). (Doc. 1, pp. 8-11, 19-24, 31-34, 36-39). He was
issued a disciplinary ticket for fighting and held for six
days in disciplinary segregation before the ticket was
dismissed. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-11, 25-30, 41-46). Plaintiff now
seeks monetary damages against the defendants. (Doc. 1, p.
12, 35, 40).
matter is before the Court for 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
Id. 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 in the pro se complaint are to be
liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009). The Complaint
survives screening under this standard.
was attacked by another inmate after being denied protective
custody at Menard in June and July 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 8,
10-11, 31-34, 36-39). He was released from segregation into
Menard's East Cell House on or around June 17, 2017.
(Doc. 1, p. 8). Two days later, several well-known
“moes” approached Plaintiff and told him to check
into protective custody for his own safety. Id. One
of these inmates, known as “Scooter, ” approached
Plaintiff in the prison yard and threatened to “stab
[him] up” if he did not do so. Id.
allegedly owed several inmates money at the time. (Doc. 1, p.
8). He apparently intended to repay them with items he
purchased from the prison commissary. Id. However,
Plaintiff was subject to commissary restrictions because of
his B-grade status. Id. Consequently, he was only
allowed to spend $30.00 at the commissary. Id.
approached a lieutenant and asked him for permission to spend
the entire $100.00 balance in his account. (Doc. 1, p. 8).
Plaintiff failed to mention that he owed anyone money.
Id. The lieutenant suspected this and, after denying
Plaintiff's request, asked another inmate named
“U-Mac” if Plaintiff “owed
everybody.” Id. When U-Mac told Plaintiff
about the lieutenant's inquiry, Plaintiff denied any
outstanding financial obligations to other inmates.
nevertheless requested protective custody, and his request
was temporarily granted. (Doc. 1, p. 8). After reporting the
inmate threats to Counselor Collins and requesting continued
protective placement, she denied the request. Id.
Internal Affairs Officer Garner did the same. (Doc. 1, p.
20, 2017, Plaintiff spoke with Chairperson Benton about the
matter. (Doc. 1, p. 10). In addition to reporting the recent
threats made by Scooter and other inmates, Plaintiff
allegedly told Benton that Internal Affairs Officer
“Gee” previously informed Plaintiff that he
should not be housed on “the hill” at Menard and
would be transferred. (Doc. 1, pp. 10, 19-24). Benton agreed
to look into the matter. (Doc. 1, p. 10). While she did so,
Plaintiff remained in protective custody. Id. On
July 25, 2017, Plaintiff received paperwork from Benton that
denied his request for protective custody and resulted in his
transfer to Menard's West Cell House. Id.
claims that “everybody from the East House” also
transferred to the West Cell House around the same time.
(Doc. 1, p. 10). When Plaintiff went to the prison yard,
Scooter approached Plaintiff and told him that he was not
supposed to be “on loca.” Id. He was
attacked the following day. Id.
Plaintiff returned from the gym to the West Cell House on
July 26, 2017, Inmate Elliot stepped out of line and struck
Plaintiff in the right ear. (Doc. 1, p. 10). The blow to his
head caused Plaintiff to feel dizzy and lightheaded.
Id. He fell to the ground. Id. Inmate
Elliot then climbed on top of Plaintiff and began hitting him
in the face. Id. When Plaintiff shielded his face
with his hands, Inmate Elliot hit Plaintiff in his left ear
and caused serious bleeding. (Doc. 1, p. 11).
the incident, Plaintiff was issued a disciplinary ticket for
fighting and taken to segregation. (Doc. 1, pp. 11, 25-27).
He spoke with Internal Affairs Officer Gee about the ticket,
and Gee assured Plaintiff that he would speak directly to the
lieutenant in charge of his disciplinary hearing.
Id. In the meantime, Plaintiff remained in
segregation, where he wrote the lieutenant a kite challenging
the ticket and his punishment with segregation. Id.
The lieutenant ultimately dismissed the ticket on August 1,
2017. Id. On the same date, Plaintiff transferred
from segregation into protective custody, where he remained
until transferring to Shawnee Correctional Center.
statement of his claim, Plaintiff does not complain about the
denial of medical care for the injuries he sustained on July
26, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 11). However, his exhibits point to a
possible delay or denial of medical care. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-11,
19-24, 31-34, 36-39). Plaintiff was allegedly treated in the
prison health care unit by a ...