United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
DEREK I. SWEET, #K98426, Plaintiff,
DRH PARTHA SARATHI GHOSH, DR. JOHN TROST, WEXFORD HEALTH SERVICES, INC., LATANYA WILLIAMS, SHAWN BASS, M. MOLDENHAUER, JOHN/JANE DOE 1, JOHN DOE 1, JOHN DOE 2, JOHN DOE 3, JOHN DOE 4, JOHN DOE 5, JOHN DOE 6, JOHN DOE 7, JOHN DOE 8, JOHN DOE 9, and C/O SCHULTZ, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HERNDON, DISTRICT JUDGE
Derek I. Sweet, an inmate currently housed at Stateville
Correctional Center (“Stateville”), filed this
pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff brings three sets of claims relating to
constitutional violations that allegedly occurred at Menard
Correctional Center (“Menard”) and Stateville
over a 10 year period. The first set of claims allegedly
occurred at Menard from October 1, 2006 to March 11, 2007
(“2006/2007 Menard Claims”). During this time,
Plaintiff claims he was subjected to excessive force,
resulting in a serious injury to his left arm/elbow.
According to the Complaint, Plaintiff was also denied medical
care for this injury. On March 11, 2007, Plaintiff was
transferred to Stateville, which leads to Plaintiff's
second set of claims (“Stateville Claims”).
Plaintiff contends that while he was housed at Stateville,
various Stateville officials exhibited deliberate
indifference to his left arm/elbow injury and/or retaliated
against him for filing grievances pertaining to the same.
Plaintiff was returned to Menard in March 2010, leading to
Plaintiff's third set of claims. Plaintiff generally
alleges that after returning to Menard in March 2010,
unspecified officials (usually generic groups such as
“staff”) denied him necessary medical care in
connection with his left arm/elbow injury. The only
allegations associated with specific defendants, however, are
directed at a physician and physician's assistant who
were allegedly deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's
left arm/elbow injury in 2017. Accordingly, the Court refers
to the third set of claims as the “2017 Menard
Claims.” Plaintiff was transferred back to Stateville
on November 21, 2017, and is presently incarcerated there.
Plaintiff does not assert any additional claims against any
specific official at Stateville following his most recent
transfer. However, he does allege that his chronic left
arm/elbow pain continues and that he is still in need of
medical care. (Doc. 1, pp. 25-26). Plaintiff seeks monetary
damages and injunctive relief. (Doc. 1, p. 28).
Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief includes a
request to be seen by an outside specialist. Id. The
body of the Complaint also includes additional requests for
surgical intervention and other specific medical care. (Doc.
1, p. 25).
connection with his claims, Plaintiff names the following
Defendants: 2006-2007 Menard Claims
1. John/Jane Doe - 1 2006/2007 Medical Director, Menard CC;
2. John Doe - 1 C/O Menard CC);
3. John Doe - 2 C/O Menard CC);
4. John Doe - 3 Lieutenant, C/O, Menard CC);
5. John Doe - 4 Sargent, C/O Menard CC);
6. John Doe - 6 C/O Menard CC also known as Big E/East House
7. John Doe - 7 Lieutenant, C/O, Menard CC; and
8. John Doe - 8 Sargent, C/O Menard CC.
1. John Doe - 10 Lieutenant, C/O, Stateville
2. John Doe - 9 Sargent, C/O Stateville CC;
3. C/O Schultz - Stateville CC; and
4. Latanya Williams - Stateville Physician Assistant;
5. Shawn Bass - X House Counselor, Placement Officer,
6. Partha Sarathi Ghosh - Stateville Medical Director
John Trost - Menard Medical Director and
Moldenhauer - Dr., Physician Assistant, Wexford Medical
is identified as a defendant in Plaintiff's list of
defendants. However, the body of the Complaint does not
include any allegations directed against Wexford. A plaintiff
“cannot state a claim against a defendant [merely] by
including the defendant's name in the caption” of
the complaint. See Potter v. Clark, 497 F.2d 1206,
1207 (7th Cir. 1974); Black v. Lane, 22 F.3d 1395,
1401 and n. 8 (7th Cir. 1994) (“Where a complaint
alleges no specific act or conduct on the part of the
defendant and the complaint is silent as to the defendant
except for his name appearing in the caption, the complaint
is properly dismissed.”). Accordingly, Wexford shall be
dismissed from this action without prejudice for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
PRELIMINARY REVIEW AND SEVERANCE
Complaint 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). 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).
Complaint is also subject to severance by this Court. The
Court retains authority to sever unrelated claims against
different defendants into one or more additional lawsuits for
which Plaintiff will be assessed a filing fee. See George
v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007). In
George, the Seventh Circuit emphasized that the
practice of severance is important, “not only to
prevent the sort of morass” produced by multi-claim,
multi-defendant suits “but also to ensure that
prisoners pay the required filing fees” under the
Prison Litigation Reform Act. Id. The Seventh
Circuit strongly encourages district courts to use severance
when faced with an omnibus or scattershot complaint,
Owens v. Evans, -- F.3d --, 2017 WL 6728884, *1 (7th
Cir. Dec. 28, 2017), and discourages courts from allowing a
prisoner “to flout the rules for joining claims and
defendants, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 18, 20, or to
circumvent the Prison Litigation Reform Act's fee
requirements by combining multiple lawsuits into a single
complaint.” Owens v. Godinez, 860 F.3d 434,
436 (7th Cir. 2017). In a misjoinder situation, severance may
occur before preliminary review, allowing the district court
to create multiple suits, which can then be separately
screened. Wheeler v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.,
689 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2012).
directs a number of allegations against individuals not named
in the case caption or list of defendants (e.g.,
various Jane Does, warden, John Doe 16…) and/or
improper groups of defendants (e.g., Stateville
Staff, Orange Crush, Medical Staff, F-House Staff…).
To the extent that Plaintiff intended to assert claims
against these individuals and/or groups of individuals, those
claims are dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 10(a) (noting that the title of the complaint
“must name all the parties”); Myles v. United
States, 416 F.3d 551, 551-52 (7th Cir.2005) (to be
properly considered a party a defendant must be
“specif[ied] in the caption”); Jenkins v.
Wisconsin Resource Ctr., No. 09-cv-323-bbc, 2009 WL
1797849, at *1 (W.D. Wis. June 24, 2009) (a group of people
cannot be sued; each defendant must be an individual or legal
entity that may accept service of a complaint).
a number of Plaintiff's allegations are not associated
with any identifiable individual (known or unknown). For
instance, Plaintiff generally alleges that, when he was
returned to Menard in 2010, he was left in handcuffs for an
excessive amount of time, further injuring his left arm/elbow
(Plaintiff makes similar allegations pertaining to his most
recent transfer to Stateville in 2017). Claims that are not
associated with any particular defendant fail to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted and should be
considered dismissed without prejudice. See Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
alleges that, on October 1, 2006, he was the victim of
excessive force. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9). According to the
Complaint, Plaintiff was involved in an altercation with
another inmate. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Several correctional officers
subdued Plaintiff and sprayed him twice with pepper spray.
Id. Plaintiff alleges that while he was in
compliance and lying on his stomach (“spread eagle
style”), John Doe 1, a correctional officer, drove his
knees into Plaintiff's shoulders, leaving Plaintiff's
head between his legs. Id. John Doe 2, a
correctional officer, then assisted John Doe 1 handcuff
Plaintiff behind his back. Id. After Plaintiff was
handcuffed, John Doe 2 kicked him in the left side of his
face, near his ear. Id. John Doe 2 then stomped and
stood on Plaintiff's left arm/elbow. (Doc. 1, p. 9).
Plaintiff screamed in pain. Id. John Doe 2 then
rocked back and forth while standing on Plaintiff's left
arm/elbow. Id. John Doe 2 did this four or five
times. Id. At that point, Plaintiff lost
consciousness from the pain. Id.
result of the excessive force incident, Plaintiff's left
arm and elbow were severely injured. (Doc. 1, p. 9).
Plaintiff did not receive immediate medical care for his
injury. Id. Instead, Plaintiff was escorted to
segregation, where he remained for 90 days. (Doc. 1, pp.
9-10). While Plaintiff was in segregation, John Doe 3, a
lieutenant in the N2 cell house, and John Doe 4, a sergeant
in the N2 cell house, denied Plaintiff's requests for