United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.
Adam Titus, 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 Menard Correctional Center
(“Menard”). In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims
the defendants subjected him to excessive force, were
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical issues,
subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment by placing him
in the staff assault weapon violator program and harassing
him, and violated state law when they stole his property.
(Doc. 1). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary
review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A,
(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.
part of screening, the Court is also allowed to sever
unrelated claims against different defendants into separate
lawsuits. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607
(7th Cir. 2007). In George, the Seventh Circuit
emphasized that the practice of severance is important,
“not only to prevent the sort of morass” produced
by multi-claim, multi-defendant suits “but also to
ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees”
under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Id. This
practice is encouraged. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
has recently warned district courts not to allow inmates
“to flout the rules for joining claims and defendants,
see Fed. R. Civ. P. 18, 20, or to circumvent the
Prison Litigation Reform Act's fee requirements by
combining multiple lawsuits into a single complaint.”
Owens v. Godinez, 860 F.3d 434, 436 (7th Cir. 2017).
See also Wheeler v. Talbot, -- F. App'x --, 2017
WL 2417889 (7th Cir. 2017) (district court should have
severed unrelated and improperly joined claims or dismissed
one of them). Consistent with George,
Owens, and Wheeler, unrelated claims will
be severed into new cases, given new case numbers, and
assessed separate filing fees.
organizes his Complaint (Doc. 1) into several
“Counts.” The Court will therefore organize the
facts using the same scheme.
Count 1 - Deprivation of Medical Care / Cruel and Unusual
claims that Count 1 involves claims against Mitchell, C/O
John Does 1-9, Mental Health Jane Doe 1, Med-Tech Jane Does
1-3, Sergeant John Doe 1, and Wexford Health Sources. (Doc.
1, p. 13). Under Count 1, Plaintiff makes the following
allegations: on June 16, 2017, Plaintiff was “tackled
by three prison guards (John Does [1-3]) and slammed to
the ground.” Id. Plaintiff was restrained, and
John Does 1-3 punched him in the face and back repeatedly and
squeezed the handcuffs while placing Plaintiff in a headlock
and twisting Plaintiff's wrist. Id. Lieutenant
Mitchell walked up to Plaintiff and kicked him in the face,
and grabbed him by the leg and twisted it. Id.
was taken to healthcare by two prison guards (John Does
[4-5]), while Plaintiff repeatedly requested medical
attention as Plaintiff complained of not being able to see
out his left eye to mental health (Jane Doe).” (Doc. 1,
pp. 13-14). As Plaintiff was seen by a Med-Tech (Jane Doe
), she noted Plaintiff was bleeding from his face and
head. (Doc. 1, p. 14). A group of prison guards (John Does
6-8) then entered and began to punch and knee Plaintiff in
the back, face, and head. Id. Plaintiff was then
dragged to the front of segregation, as three prison guards
kneed and punched Plaintiff and called him derogatory names.
Id. Plaintiff was taken to the shower in segregation
while he repeatedly asked four guards (John Does) for medical
attention. Id. Plaintiff was then placed in a cell,
and minutes later a sergeant (Sergeant John Doe 1) and
gallery officer (C/O John Doe 9) took Plaintiff to Med-Tec
Jane Doe  and Med-Tech Jane Doe . Id.
Plaintiff tried to explain his injuries to the medical staff,
but he was ignored. Id. Plaintiff was then taken
back to his cell and Sergeant John Doe 1 twisted
Plaintiff's wrist as Plaintiff directed requests for
medical attention to Sergeant John Doe 1 and C/O John Doe 9.
(Doc. 1, p. 15).
asserts these facts demonstrate he was subjected to excessive
force by Mitchell, C/O John Does 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, and 8, and
Sergeant John Doe 1. Id. Plaintiff also claims that
the above facts demonstrate that Mental Health Jane Doe 1,
Med-Tech Jane Doe 1, and C/O John Does 4, 5, and 9 failed to
intervene in the alleged excessive force, and that Mental
Health Jane Doe 1, Med-Tech Jane Does 1, 2, and 3, C/O John
Does 6, 7, and 8, Sergeant John Doe 1, and Wexford Health
Sources were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs.
Id. Plaintiff further claims that
“Wexford's policy and/or custom of reviewing and in
this case ignoring and not treating inmates with medical
issues, results in deprivation of Plaintiff's rights to
medical attention, or otherwise caused significant delay in
Plaintiff's attempts to gain medical attention.”
(Doc. 1, pp. 15-16). “As a result, Plaintiff has loss
of vision in his left eye, back pain, and limited movement in
his wrist, right leg pain, and [he] suffer[s] from extreme
headaches and dizziness and loss of hearing.” (Doc. 1,
Count 2 - Cruel and Unusual Punishment
claims that Count 2 involves claims against C/O John Does
10-20, Major Westfall, C/O Caron, C/O Weaver, C/O Webb,
Lieutenant Groves, Warden Lashbrook, Lieutenant Samuels,
Director Baldwin, Sergeant Doeding, C/O Reynolds, C/O
Stinson, C/O McDonough, C/O Edwards, C/O Keller, C/O Montroy,
and C/O Francis. (Doc. 1, p. 17). Under Count 2, Plaintiff
makes the following allegations: on April 5, 2017, Plaintiff
was transferred to Menard. Id. Plaintiff wore a
black and white striped jumpsuit, while other inmates had on
yellow jumpsuits. Id. As Plaintiff was getting off
of the bus, C/O John Doe 10 stated to C/O John Does 11, 12,
13, 14, and 15: “We got a striper.” Id.
As Plaintiff walked toward these guards, they got in his face
and told him: “This is Menard, we going to beat your
ass down here.” Id. C/O John Doe 10 then told
another officer to “stomp his brains out” if
Plaintiff turned or did anything. Id.
April 10, 2017, when Plaintiff was let out for chow, C/O John
Does 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20 “were standing amongst the
stairwell blocking the exit.” (Doc. 1, p. 18). As
Plaintiff walked toward the prison guards, they harassed him,
called him derogatory names, and threatened him with physical
harm due to his being a “black and striper.”
Id. Plaintiff tried to speak to Major Westfall, but
he was told to keep moving. Id.
20-21, 2017, C/O John Does 15-20 “repeatedly harassed
and threatened all black and while stripers.”
Id. When Plaintiff was let out for chow, C/O John
Does 15-20 “stood blocking the stairway, folding their
arms and sticking their feet out while poking out their
stomach, forcing Plaintiff and others to turn sideways and
grab the rail while squeezing through them, ” as C/O
Caron called them ‘“stripers” and
“punks” and told staff to “smash they
face.” Id. On May 21, 2017, C/O Caron told
Plaintiff, while the guards were blocking the stairway, that
if he touched him he would use physical force on him. (Doc.
1, p. 19). At the end of the stairway, a sergeant was
pointing a large can of mace at Plaintiff's face.
Id. On June 8, 2017, C/O Weaver and Webb harassed
Plaintiff and called him derogatory names. Id. They
blocked the stairway while a C/O stood with a can of chemical
agent and threatened “stripers, ” saying that he
could spray them. Id. Plaintiff tried to speak with
Lieutenant Samuels but was ignored and threatened with
April 6, 2017, “Plaintiff was placed in the staff
assaulter weapon violator program which was started by IDOC
Administration.” Id. Plaintiff has been
subjected to discrimination, harassment, and retaliation
since his placement in this program, which has a policy
requiring those in the program to wear black and white
striped jumpsuits and to be segregated by gallery apart from
general population. (Doc. 1, pp. 19-20). The policy also
subjects those in the program to visit, educational program,
job, clothing, yard, and commissary restrictions, as well as
retaliation, harassment, and excessive force by prison
guards. (Doc. 1, p. 20).
end of his recitation of facts under Count 2, Plaintiff lists
Groves, Lashbrook, Samuels, Baldwin, Westfall, Doeding, Webb,
Caron, Keller, Reynolds, McDonough, Montroy, Stinson,
Edwards, and Francis, and claims that they “had a duty
and obligation to ensure that Plaintiff while incarcerated at
Menard . . . was not subject to discipline that amounts to
cruel and unusual punishment but . . . acted with deliberate
indifference by failing to carry out their respective
duty.” Id. Plaintiff also claims that he
suffers from emotional distress and psychological and
physical pain. Id.
Count 3 - Conversion of Personal Property
Count 3, Plaintiff makes the following allegations: Doeding
and Montroy had “access to Plaintiff's property
that was taken from his cell while Plaintiff was in
transportation and placed in another facility.” (Doc.
1, p. 21). Plaintiff claims these defendants intentionally
and wrongly deprived him of personal property to which he is
requests “temporary and permanent injunctive relief
prohibiting the use of ‘black and white' stripers
program and policy.” (Doc. 1, p. 22). Plaintiff also
seeks monetary damages, an outside medical examination, and a
temporary restraining ...