United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pro se, Plaintiff David Bentz filed this civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on July 27,
2016. (Doc. 1). Before screening the Complaint, the Court
dismissed the action, after finding that Plaintiff failed to
disclose financial information in his application for leave
to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 4). An Order
Dismissing Case and Judgment were entered on September 22,
2016. (Docs. 8-9). Plaintiff appealed. (Doc. 22). On November
20, 2017, the Seventh Circuit reversed the District
Court's decision and remanded the matter for further
proceedings. See Bentz v. Maue, 702 F. App'x
461, 2017 WL 5564681 (7th Cir. Nov. 20, 2017). Consistent
with the Seventh Circuit's Mandate (Doc. 34), the Clerk
is DIRECTED to VACATE the
Dismissal Order (Doc. 8), Judgment (Doc. 9), and Order
Denying Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 5).
matter is now before the Court for preliminary review of the
Complaint. (Docs. 1, 1-1). In the 225-page document,
Plaintiff names thirty-five known defendants, five unknown
doctors and nurses, and numerous additional unknown medical
and correctional staff at Menard. Id. His claims
primarily arise from two assaults Plaintiff allegedly endured
at the hands of Menard officials in May and August 2014 and
the subsequent denial of medical care for his injuries.
Id. Unfortunately, however, Plaintiff throws
numerous additional claims into his Complaint as well.
Id. He alleges that the defendants conspired to
deprive him of his constitutional rights under the First,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (Doc. 1, p. 1). In
addition, he asserts claims against them under Illinois state
law for assault, battery, negligence, intentional infliction
of emotional distress, and slander. Id. Plaintiff
seeks declaratory judgment, monetary damages, and injunctive
relief. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 16-17).
matter is before the Court for preliminary review of the
Complaint 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
Id. 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 in the pro se complaint are to be
liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
of the screening order, the Court also will consider whether
any parties or claims are improperly joined in this action.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 18, 20-21; George v.
Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). If the Court
finds that they are, it is authorized to sever unrelated
claims against different defendants into separate lawsuits,
assign new cases numbers for each suit, and assess a separate
filing fee for each new case. George, 507 F.3d at
Complaint A. First Assault
to the Complaint, Plaintiff was assaulted at Menard on May
11, 2014. (Doc. 1, p. 5). On that date, Officer Maue
repeatedly threatened to slap Plaintiff in the face as he
walked to and from the chow hall. Id. Officers
Qualls, Schnicker, T. Monroe, W. Monroe, Tope, and
Guettersloh stood by doing nothing. Id. Plaintiff
asked Lieutenant Brookman to intervene, but the lieutenant
told Plaintiff to “[k]eep moving [because] I don't
Plaintiff walked toward his cell, Qualls and Maue ordered him
to return to the Six Gallery Flag, where Qualls, Tope,
Guettersloh, and “Doe” grabbed Plaintiff and
began punching him repeatedly in the back of the head and
neck. (Doc. 1, p. 6). They slammed his face into the wall,
while Maue said, “I am going to kill you!” (Doc.
1, pp. 6-7). Maue grabbed Plaintiff by the back of his shirt
and twisted it tightly around his neck, choking and
strangling him in the process. Id. He pushed and
dragged Plaintiff across the floor, while calling him a
“pencil pusher.” (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). Plaintiff
eventually lost consciousness. (Doc. 1, p. 7). The assault
occurred in view of Sadler, Schnicker, T. Monroe, W. Monroe,
and “other Does, ” but they did not intervene.
(Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff allegedly did nothing to provoke
the assault. Id.
Plaintiff repeatedly requested medical care for injuries to
his jaw and neck between May 11 and 29, 2014. (Doc. 1, pp. 7,
13). His requests were consistently ignored or denied by
Maue, Qualls, Tope, Guettersloh, T. Monroe, W. Monroe,
Schnicker, Sadler, Jaimet, Cambell, Benifield, Samuel, Allen,
Brookman, Allsup, Monjie, Trost, J. Butler, Dwight, Nurse
Jane Doe, and other unidentified medical and correctional
staff. (Doc. 1, p. 7).
pressed for an investigation and medical treatment, prison
officials harassed and threatened Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, p. 7).
He sent an emergency grievance to Warden Kimberly Butler and
Monjie, as well as a request for medical treatment directly
to the Health Care Unit (“HCU”). Id. He
repeatedly asked Brookman to speak with internal affairs and
to bring him to the HCU for treatment, all to no avail.
Id. Brookman eventually told Plaintiff that his
grievances were “filed” in the trash can.
Id. W. Monroe threatened to “beat his
ass” if Plaintiff reported the incident, as Sadler
stood by and did nothing. Id. Lieutenant Samuel
threatened to issue Plaintiff a disciplinary ticket for
repeatedly asking to speak with internal affairs and to visit
the HCU. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Lieutenant Allen agreed to take
Plaintiff to the HCU on condition that he not “make a
case about it, ” but refused to contact internal
affairs on Plaintiff's behalf. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Allen then
worked with Jaimet to arrange a visit to the HCU, where Nurse
Jane Doe allegedly denied Plaintiff treatment and pain
medication for his injuries. Id.
16, 2014, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit to address the first
assault and related denial of medical care in Bentz v.
Qualles, 14-cv-562-MJR-SCW (S.D. Ill.). He asserted
claims under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments
against Qualls, Samuel, Brookman, Maue, Schnicker, Sadler,
Butler, Allen, T. Monroe, W. Monroe, Tope, Guettersloh, J.
Butler, and several unknown Menard officials. (Doc. 1, p. 6).
Plaintiff named all of these defendants in this case as well.
then called his two family members on May 18 and 25, 2014,
and asked them to contact Warden Kimberly Butler and the
Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC') to
complain about the failure to investigate the matter or treat
Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, pp. 11-12). As a result of their efforts,
Allsup met with Plaintiff on May 19, 2014, but took no action
to help him. (Doc. 1, p. 11). Dwight reviewed an emergency
grievance from Plaintiff, but declared it a non-emergency on
May 22, 2014. Id. Monjie met with Plaintiff on May
27, 2014, but also took no action. (Doc. 1, p. 12).
Qualls continued harassing and threatening Plaintiff, telling
him on one occasion, on May 24, 2017, to “put your
eyeballs back in your head.” (Doc. 1, p. 12). Cambell
and Jaimet told Plaintiff that staff was going to “fuck
[him] up” for talking to internal affairs. (Doc. 1, p.
13). They also denied Plaintiff and his cellmate a meal and
then encouraged his cellmate to attack him, all in
retaliation for speaking with internal affairs. Id.
after the defendants were served with the lawsuit in
Bentz v. Qualls, No. 14-cv-562 (S.D. Ill.),
Plaintiff was moved from the general population in the North
1 Cell House into the North 2 Cell House. (Doc. 1, pp.
13-14). The North 2 Cell House consists of segregation cells
that are used to isolate inmates from the general population.
(Doc. 1, p. 13). Plaintiff claims that he was transferred to
dodge any injunctive relief he requested in Bentz v.
Qualles or in retaliation for filing that case. (Doc. 1,
connection with his pending suit in Bentz v.
Qualles, Angela Crain arranged an examination of
Plaintiff's suspected jaw and neck injuries in the HCU on
or around August 22, 2014. (Doc. 1, p. 14). Plaintiff met
with “Nurse Misty” the following day. (Doc. 1, p.
15). The nurse noted swelling in Plaintiff's neck and jaw
and issued him a package of ibuprofen and Tylenol.
Id. She also referred him to Doctor Trost.
waiting for his appointment with the doctor on August 29,
2014, Plaintiff was assaulted in the HCU. (Doc. 1, p. 15).
This time, Officers Lindenberg and Virgil Smith were
allegedly responsible for the assault. Id. Plaintiff
offers no details about it. Id.
filed a civil rights action to address the second assault on
February 5, 2015. Bentz v. Lindenberg,
15-cv-121-NJR-DGW (S.D. Ill. Feb. 5, 2015). The defendants
named in that action include Donald Lindenberg, Virgil Smith,
Jacqueline Lashbrook, Linda Carter, Michael Monjie, Sherry
Benton, Terri Anderson, Salvadore Godinez, Doctor Trost, and
various unknown correctional officers. Plaintiff named some
of the same defendants in this case as well, including Donald
Lindenberg, Jacqueline Lashbrook, Linda Carter, Michael
Monjie, and Doctor Trost.
Subsequent Denial of Medical Care
did not meet with Doctor Trost on the day of his second
assault. (Doc. 1, p. 15). His call passes to see the doctor
were subsequently cancelled on September 5, 12, 19, and 26,
2014. Id. After speaking with Warden Lashbrook on
September 26, 2014, Plaintiff sent her an emergency grievance
on October 2, 2014. (Doc. 1, pp. 15-16). Lashbrook took no
action in response to it. (Doc. 1, p. 17). Warden Butler did,
however, expedite the grievance. Id.
finally met with Doctor Trost about the injuries he sustained
in the initial assault on October 3, 2014. (Doc. 1, p. 15).
On that date, Plaintiff complained of a suspected fractured
jaw, chronic neck and shoulder pain, and vision problems.
(Doc. 1, p. 16). Without examining him, Doctor Trost issued
Plaintiff a three month prescription for ibuprofen, ordered
x-rays, and scheduled a two week follow-up appointment.
Id. As ordered, Plaintiff received x-rays on October
10, 2014, but Doctor Trost did not meet with him to discuss
the results. Id. An outside medical provider named
Doctor Foss allegedly reviewed the x-rays on October 13,
2014, and sent the results to Menard, where Doctor John Doe
also reviewed them on October 22, 2014. (Doc. 1, p. 17).
meantime, Linda Carter contacted the HCU and Internal Affairs
Officer John Doe about the matter on October 10, 2014. (Doc.
1, p. 17). Without any results in hand, HCU Nurse Jane Doe
reported no significant findings on the x-rays. Id.
Concluding that no further treatment was necessary, a
decision was made to deny the grievance Plaintiff filed
seeking medical treatment. Id. Warden Butler
concurred with the decision on October 23, 2014. Id.
Denial of Other Dental and Medical Care
complains of the subsequent denial of other medical and
dental care at Menard beginning in May 2015. (Doc. 1, pp.
18-20; Doc. 1-1, pp. 1-16). Doctor Newbold, a dentist at the
prison, allegedly ignored “obvious swelling” and
pain in Plaintiff's neck at an appointment on May ...