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Bohn v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 18, 2017

JONATHAN W. BOHN, # 08570-025, Plaintiff,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU of PRISONS, LT. DUGDALE, and DR. SEARS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. Phil Gilbert United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff, an inmate in the FCI-Greenville, brings this action for alleged violations of his constitutional rights by persons acting under the color of federal authority.[1] See Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). He claims that Greenville officials negligently allowed him to attempt suicide while he was on suicide watch. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint 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). The Court must dismiss any portion of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 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).

         After fully considering the allegations in Plaintiff's complaint, the Court concludes that this action is subject to summary dismissal. However, Plaintiff shall have an opportunity to re-plead his claims in an amended complaint.

         The Complaint

         On August 22, 2017, Dr. Sears (psychologist) ordered Plaintiff to be placed on suicide watch in a “secured suicide room.” (Doc. 1, p. 1). Dr. Sears escorted Plaintiff to the medical department, where Lt. Dugdale conducted a strip-search of Plaintiff, and then searched the suicide room. Dugdale was satisfied with the search and locked Plaintiff inside the room. These activities were recorded by video camera surveillance, as were the ensuing events.

         The following day (August 23, 2017), Dugdale returned, placed Plaintiff in handcuffs, and once again searched Plaintiff and searched the room. Dugdale was “satisfied” that Plaintiff and the room were “secured, ” so he removed Plaintiff's handcuffs and departed at about 12:05 p.m. (Doc. 1, p. 1).

         Soon after Dugdale left, at about 12:45 p.m., Plaintiff sliced his left wrist 5 times with a razor blade that he found inside the suicide room. (Doc. 1, p. 2). At 1:00 p.m., the “suicide companion” called for assistance and other staff responded. Plaintiff was given medical attention for his wounds. He does not say where in the room the razor blade had been located.

         After Plaintiff's attempted suicide, Dr. Sears lied about the incident and fired a suicide companion.

         Plaintiff seeks to hold Sears and Dugdale responsible for leaving him in the suicide room where he was able to locate a razor blade, asserting that Dugdale and Sears were negligent in failing to hold him in a safe place while he was on suicide watch. (Doc. 1, pp. 2-3). The 3-page Complaint does not contain a prayer for relief.

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

         As noted above, this action is subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, for the following reasons.

         A lawsuit brought pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), is the federal prisoner's equivalent to a § 1983 civil rights action. See Glaus v. Anderson, 408 F.3d 382, 386 (7th Cir. 2005); Clemente v. Allen, 120 F.3d 703, 705 (7th Cir. 1997) (collecting cases). Plaintiff's claim that the conditions of his confinement in ...


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