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Cavaness v. Ellenberg

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 6, 2017

DeANDRE CAVANESS, # R-29951, Plaintiff,
v.
ELLENBERG, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case was severed on October 31, 2017 from Cavaness v. Delancy, et al., Case No. 17-cv-480-SMY-RJD (S.D. Ill.). (Doc. 1). It contains the claim designated as Count 3 in the original case, and described as follows:

Count 3 - Defendant Ellenberg violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by maliciously and continuously shutting off Plaintiff's drinking water despite Plaintiff's need for it in order to take his medications.

         Plaintiff filed the original civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on May 8, 2017, while he was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). He was released from prison later that month.[1] Plaintiff's claim is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Under § 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner Complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of the Complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief, must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         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 “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).

         Applying these standards, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claim survives threshold review under § 1915A.

         The Complaint (Doc. 2)

         This operative Complaint was filed in the original action as the Second Amended Complaint where it was docketed as Doc. 14. Plaintiff's factual allegations relating to Count 3 are as follows.

         While Plaintiff was confined on 2 and 4 galleries at Menard, Ellenberg routinely cut off his cold drinking water every day for 2 months. (Doc. 2, p. 3). This continued up to Plaintiff's release (MSR) date of May 26, 2017. Plaintiff is “mentally ill and dyslexic.” (Doc. 2, p. 5). He needs to have water available to take his medication. (Doc. 2, p. 7). Since Plaintiff arrived at Menard, Ellenberg had been “racist and belittlingly belligerent” toward him. Id. Despite the fact that Plaintiff explained to Ellenberg that he required drinking water for his medication, and requested that he leave the water on, Ellenberg continued to shut off the drinking water to Plaintiff's cell. Id.

         Plaintiff requests monetary damages for the violation of his rights. (Doc. 2, p. 9).

         Merits Review of Count 3 Pursuant to 28 ...


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