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Godfrey v. Easton

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 2, 2018

TERRANCE D GODFREY, No. B32997, Plaintiff,


          Staci M. Yandle, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Terrance D. Godfrey, an inmate at Pontiac Correctional Center (“Pontiac”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights that allegedly occurred when he was housed at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that guards at Menard beat him in violation of his civil rights.

         On August 16, 2016, the Court dismissed this action with prejudice for Plaintiff's failure to comply with an Order of the Court. (Doc. 14). Judgment was entered the same day. (Doc. 15). The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently vacated the Court's judgment of dismissal and remanded the case for further proceedings. (Doc. 39-1).

         The case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint (Doc. 1) 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 such relief.

         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 of 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

         Plaintiff's Complaint contains the following allegations:

         Attempted Escape and Excessive Force

         On April 25, 2015, Plaintiff was transferred from Menard to Chester Memorial Hospital for medical treatment due to an apparent seizure. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Correctional officers Easton and Jaimet were supervising Plaintiff while he was receiving medical treatment. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). Jaimet left Plaintiff's hospital room and asked nursing staff to bring Plaintiff something to eat. Id. Easton remained in Plaintiff's hospital room and Plaintiff observed that Easton appeared agitated. Id. Easton commented that he was tired of “babysitting” Plaintiff, wanted to return to Menard and made derogatory statements about Menard's warden and other prison officials. (Doc. 1, p. 9).

         Plaintiff's hospital room had an adjoining bathroom that attached to a second hospital room. At some point, Plaintiff asked to use the bathroom. (Doc. 1, pp. 9-10). Easton loosened Plaintiff's hand and ankle restraints, allowed Plaintiff to enter the bathroom and closed the bathroom door. (Doc. 1, p. 10). After the door closed, Plaintiff attempted to escape by climbing out of a window in the adjoining hospital room. Id.

         Jaimet and Easton caught Plaintiff attempting to escape and a struggle ensued. Id. While Plaintiff was hanging from the hospital window, Easton grabbed his right arm from inside the adjoining hospital room. Id. Plaintiff was then sprayed with pepper spray. Id. At some point, Jaimet exited the hospital and with the help of a hospital employee, pulled Plaintiff from the window and placed him on the ground. Id.[1]

         Despite reports to the contrary, Plaintiff was not returned to the hospital. Id. Instead, he was placed in the back of a police vehicle and returned to Menard. Id. While Plaintiff was in the vehicle, Sergeant Harris and Lieutenant Gutreuter took turns beating, punching and twisting Plaintiff's genitals. (Doc. 1, pp. 10-11). Plaintiff sustained multiple injuries to his face, wrists, ribs and legs. Id.

         Upon Plaintiff's return to Menard, Lieutenant Gutreuter and Sergeant Harris continued to assault him - dragging him through the parking lot by his restraints and spraying him in the face with mace. Id. Plaintiff was then restrained in a holding cell with his hands cuffed behind his back. (Doc. 1, p. 12). Plaintiff's eyes and face were burning and he had blood running down his face and body. Id. Plaintiff remained in the cell, restrained and injured, for between six and seven hours. Id. During this time, Plaintiff did not receive any medical attention. Id.

         Eventually, Plaintiff was transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center. (Doc. 1, p. 12). He received “little” medical treatment from medical staff at Pontiac. Id. He indicates that he received pain medication and that x-rays revealed injuries to both of his wrists. Id.

         In addition to the specific allegations described above, Plaintiff alleges that Jaimet and Easton violated IDOC rules and/or policies and attempted ...

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