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Teen v. St. Clair County

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 3, 2018

ANTRELL A. TEEN, Plaintiff,


          J. Phil Gilbert U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff Antrell Teen, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at St. Clair County Jail (“Jail”), brings this pro se action for alleged violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 15). Several claims from Plaintiff's original Complaint (Doc. 1) were severed from this action pursuant to George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). The counts remaining in this action were dismissed. Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on September 25, 2017. (Doc. 15). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the First Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to 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). 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.

         The Complaint

         In his First Amended Complaint (Doc. 15), Plaintiff makes the following allegations[1]: Plaintiff has been incarcerated in St. Clair County Jail (“Jail”) from December 2015 up to the present. (Doc. 15, p. 6). During this time, Jail policies have not been followed by staff, administrators, and faculty. Id. Detainees have been deprived of a grievance procedure, a sick call procedure, and the law library, inmate safety has been compromised, prison conditions are poor, and the obligation to provide basic human needs at the Jail has not been met. Id.

         A. Grievance Procedure

         Plaintiff has complained repeatedly to Philliph McLauren, but he disregards such complaints “by not acknowledging complaints or grievance request[s] which violates due process.” Id. “There is no definitive process to rectify these deprivations . . . which leaves [Plaintiff] and other inmates at risk of harm.” Id. St. Clair County Jail, directed by St. Clair County, has an “unofficial custom to deprive inmates by their employees.” Id. The lack of a requirement that employees follow Jail guidelines “causes these torts which collectively shows a pattern of deprivation even after being aware.” Id. “Because of this custom to avoid, not acknowledge, and disregard serious issues without changing procedures to protect inmates, St. Clair County and Prison Administration are believed to be the proper” defendants. Id.

         During his time at the Jail, Plaintiff has asked Supervisor Nichols for a grievance and was denied. Id. He has complained to Captain Kenny and Major McLauren in writing and asked for a grievance hearing and was ignored. Id. Plaintiff “notified the highest authority and his constituents multiple times about deprivations mentioned herein and no relief was given” so “they participated in furthering . . . these deprivations and contributed [to them] by disregarding [and] not acknowledging major issues that denied [Plaintiff] of [his] constitutional rights, basic human needs, safe conditions, [and] access to the courts.” Id.

         B. Dental Care

         During Plaintiff's initial medical screening, he informed the intake nurse Brandy about his “oral needs, severe pain, infection, inability to eat on either side of [his] mouth, [and] needing a soft diet.” (Doc. 15, p. 7). Plaintiff's “medical needs for dental help went unattended from December 2015 until [they were] finally treated December 2016.” Id. During that year, Plaintiff experienced agonizing pain. Id. Plaintiff sent sick call requests for help to Brandy, Barbara, and others. He also submitted sick call requests on the kiosk located on the cellblock. Id. He believes Nurse Deborah and Robin view sick call requests and are supposed to book appointments so inmates can receive help. Id. Plaintiff submitted over 20 sick call requests but did not see a dentist for a year because the nurses responsible for setting appointments disregarded his requests. Id. “This custom of disregarding the complaints of inmates causes deprivation to medical needs.” Id.

         C. Eye Care

         Plaintiff placed sick call requests to Barbara and April, and on the kiosk in the cell block, about eye irritation, soreness, and redness. Id. While he was in the shower, “black mold, rust, peeling paint, insects, and other unknown particles became airborne and got into [Plaintiff's] eye.” Id. The nursing staff was notified about the issue around February 6, 2016, but he has not been seen or treated for the issue. Id. Nurse Deborah and Robin “are responsible for setting appointment[s] and calling inmates to see a doctor. Treatment is denied by these nurses.” Id.

         D. Stomach Issues

         Plaintiff submitted sick call requests in February 2016 and February 2017 for vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea on the kiosk in the cell block. Id. “There was a water boil for St. Clair County and there was no procedure in place to care for inmates during such a time and [Plaintiff] was allowed to drink polluted water for days.” Id. Plaintiff went untreated and his needs were disregarded, “which is a patterned tactic used by nurse[s] at St. Clair County Jail.” Id. Robin and Deborah are responsible for setting appointments and getting inmates help. Id.

         E. Inadequate and Unsanitary Food

         Plaintiff has not received a nutritionally adequate diet during his time at the Jail. (Doc. 15, p. 8). No fruit has been provided on breakfast, lunch, and dinner trays since December 2015. Id. Mary, the kitchen supervisor, “knows what is served daily because the menu doesn't change. Mary knows what is required for a balanced meal and sees that the food prepared isn't nutritionally balanced.” Id. Plaintiff has submitted complaints about the issue to Mary, but he has not received a response. Id.

         The food in St. Clair County is also prepared under unsanitary conditions. Id. Inmates have informed Mary of this and were told to ignore the issue and not “say anything harmful when inspectors come or they will lose their tender kitchen position.” Id. A kitchen employee witnessed a health inspector find a violation, point it out to Mary and McLauren, and give them a passing score regardless. Id. He also witnessed McLauren sign off on the document. Id. At the time of the inspection, “stoves were broke, mold was in the kitchen and [an] infestation.” Id. Plaintiff has witnessed workers not wearing gloves while preparing food, trash in the cooler after an inmate drank the juice, and trash and old food mixed in the ice. Id. Plaintiff was fed black-eyed peas with maggots, and there are “filthy spouts on coolers” that are “never cleaned but used daily.” Id. Plaintiff also believes non-sterile items are used to prepare food. Id. “These habits occur daily and amount to a systemic problem. All issues have been complained about and addressed to Mary and McLauren but [Plaintiff] receive[s] no response.” Id.

         Aramark contributes to inmates having “diets well below nutritional value by distributing low quality food to St. Clair County Jail.” Id. Aramark is aware “that the food they distribute is not fresh, lack[s] shelf life, [and is] low quality through complaints made by [Plaintiff] and others. Past lawsuits against Aramark show a custom of providing inadequate food to save their customer, St. Clair County, money.” Id. This “custom is the moving force causing the deprivation” and “this directive is given by Mary.” Id. Even though Plaintiff complained about this to McLauren, he disregarded the complaints. Id.

         F. Cell Emergency Buttons

         There are no emergency buttons in the cells at the Jail. (Doc. 15, p. 9). Inmates are locked in their cells for “10 plus hours, ” with officers only present every thirty minutes and no cameras equipped. Id. In the event of an emergency, inmates must kick the doors and scream for help. Id. This issue has been the subject of complaints to Kenny and McLauren. Id. Several inmates faced medical emergencies for which they had to wait fifteen minutes or more to be treated. Id. The Jail employees involved in these situations included Nichols, Wagner, April, and Cook. Id. Plaintiff also gave a complaint to Nichols and Cook on the issue. Id. “Faculty, staff, and administrators know of these unsafe conditions but keep [Plaintiff]/inmate[s] in these unsafe conditions.” Id.

         G. Unsanitary Block Conditions

         Plaintiff has asked block officers for cleaning supplies to address the unsanitary conditions on his block for months. Id. “There are 20 cells, 4 showers, 2 day room urinals, 8 day room tables, [and] 2 decks that need to be kept clean. When cleaning supplies are brought at the officer's discretion, there is one bucket with little solution and less than half of a Styrofoam cup with Comet. There is no way to clean black mold in the showers, fecal matter on toilets, [and] clean the dining area with the minimal cleaning supplies provided.” Id.

         Plaintiff complained through captain complaints asking for adequate cleaning supplies for the size and population of the block, but he still does not “receive the minimal supplies on a daily basis.” Id. Plaintiff asked for supplies and complained about this to Johnson on September 7 and 12, 2017, Masse on September 7, 2017, and Smith on September 13, 2017. Id. On September 17, 2017, “Jerry looked at the captain complaint and threw it back on the table.” Id. In December 2016, Plaintiff was housed in the infirmary “where there was fecal matter on the toilet for days/week until complaining and Lt. Fulton gave [them] bleach. Sgt. Nichols was informed by complaint form and did nothing to help [them].” Id.

         Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from the ...

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