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Greyer v. Illinois Department of Corrections

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 8, 2018

FABIAN GREYER, #R09438, Plaintiff,
v.
IDOC, GRAHAM CC, PINCKNEYVILLE CC, JOHN/JANE DOE 1, C/O BUSBY, JOHN/JANE DOE 2, JOHN/JANE DOE 3, L. MILLER, LT. SAME, SANDY BELLEGANTE, C/O BADMAN, LT. GIBSON, C/O WRIGHT, LT. PICHEREL WARDEN, JOHN/JANE DOE 4, WARDEN, C/O MENENDEZ, JOHN/JANE DOE 5 Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Fabian Greyer, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently housed at Dixon Correctional Center (“Dixon”), filed this pro se action directing claims against officials at two different Illinois prisons: (1) Graham Correctional Center (“Graham”) and (2) Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”).[1]

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

         The Court also must consider whether misjoinder is an issue. 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).

         The Complaint

         Overview

          Plaintiff is a paranoid schizophrenic and is presently incarcerated at Dixon. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Plaintiff's claims relate to his prior incarceration (between 2016 and 2017) at Graham and Pinckneyville. Many of Plaintiff's claims involve the treatment he received (or failed to receive) for his psychiatric condition. According to the Complaint, when Plaintiff was sentenced, the judge ordered officials to provide Plaintiff with mental health treatment while in custody. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff claims officials at Graham and Pinckneyville ignored that directive, exhibited deliberate indifference to his mental health needs, and repeatedly ignored his requests for mental health treatment. (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 8-9, 11). Plaintiff also alleges that he has been the victim of excessive force, harassment, retaliation, and racial discrimination. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-13).

         Notably, at the time of filing, Plaintiff was frustrated because officials had not answered his request to be transferred to Dixon - a facility where Plaintiff believed he would receive appropriate mental health treatment.[2] On October 30, 2017, however, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Change of Address stating that he has been transferred to Dixon. (Doc. 5).

         Graham Correctional Center

         Harassment

         Plaintiff generally alleges that he was “always harassed and treated unfair by all staff members of Graham” because he had been filing grievances. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff describes several incidents involving what he describes as harassment. (Doc. 1, p. 13). However, the Complaint does not allege that the specifically described incidents were motivated by retaliatory animus.

         The first incident occurred on May 17, 2016, when Plaintiff was issued a clothing pass and requested a new jacket. (Doc. 1, pp. 4, 13). According to the Complaint, John/Jane Doe 1 (Unknown Clothing Officer, Graham CC), who seemed very upset, refused to give Plaintiff a new jacket because it was summer. Id. As a result, Plaintiff was forced to walk in the rain without a jacket. Id.

         The second incident occurred on August 10, 2016, when Correctional Officer Busby stopped Plaintiff from filling his tortilla bag with ice. (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 13). Officer Busby indicated Plaintiff had enough ice. Id. However, Officer Busby allowed other inmates to take additional ice. Id.

         The third incident occurred on November 29, 2016, when Correctional Officer Miller wrote Plaintiff a disciplinary ticket for talking. (Doc. 1, pp. 5, 13). Plaintiff told Miller he was mentally ill and did not realize he had been talking. Id. He further explained that he was hearing voices and sometimes answered the voices without realizing he was talking. Id. Plaintiff also objected because other inmates did not receive disciplinary tickets for talking. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         The fourth incident occurred on December 2, 2016, when Lieutenant Same wrote Plaintiff a ticket for yelling. Id. Plaintiff explained that he was mentally ill and was only yelling at the voices in his head. Id. At the time of this incident, Plaintiff was not receiving mental health treatment. Id.

         Mental Health Treatment

         Despite repeated requests for mental health treatment, Plaintiff did not receive necessary treatment. (Doc. 1, pp. 10-11). Plaintiff requested his psychiatric medication on two occasions in 2016, but was ignored. (Doc. 1, p. 5). For a period of time beginning on November 23, 2016, Plaintiff was not allowed to return to his housing unit because he had been hearing voices. Id. These claims appear to be associated with John/Jane Doe 3 (Unknown Mental Health Staff, Graham CC), IDOC, and/or Graham Correctional Center. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 8-11).

         Excessive Force and Related Harassment

         Plaintiff claims he was assaulted on March 3, 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 7, 12). According to the Complaint, the assault was initiated by correctional officers Wright and Badman. Id. Badman allegedly lunged at Plaintiff's chest with his shoulder and, using his forearm, pushed Plaintiff in the back. Id. Lt. Gibson then approached Plaintiff and said, “You better cuff up nigga.”[3] Id. Plaintiff complied. Id. At that point, Lt. Gibson dragged Plaintiff out of the housing unit backwards. Id. Plaintiff could not walk backwards and, as a result, was dragged by Lt. Gibson. Id. Plaintiff lost his balance and fell to the ground. Id. He begged Lt. Gibson to allow him to walk forward. Id. Lt. Gibson responded saying, “Fuck you. You assaulted an officer.” Id. Lt. Gibson then ordered other officers to bring a cart used to move personal property and directed them to transport Plaintiff to segregation using the cart. Id. The officers slammed Plaintiff, who was still restrained, onto the cart. (Doc. 1, p. 8). After that, “all sorts of things was being done to hurt [Plaintiff] physically.” Id.

         After the alleged assault, Plaintiff was placed on suicide watch. Id. While Plaintiff was on suicide watch, Lt. Picherel dressed Plaintiff in a smock, joking that it looked like a dress. Id. Plaintiff contends that Lt. Picherel did this to humiliate him. Id.

         Pinckneyville Correctional Center

         Mental Health Treatment

         According to the Complaint, when Plaintiff was housed at Pinckneyville, he did not receive appropriate mental health treatment. (Doc. 1, p. 11). For unknown reasons, officials stopped giving Plaintiff his Prolixin[4] shots. (Doc. 1, p. 8). On September 17, 2017, Plaintiff wrote a grievance complaining that he was not receiving proper mental health treatment. (Doc. 1, p. 8). The claims pertaining to Plaintiff's mental health treatment appear to be associated with John/Jane Doe 4 (Mental Health Staff, Pinckneyville CC), Pinckneyville Correctional Center, and/or IDOC (Doc. 1, pp. 8-11).

         Shower Incident

          On September 23, 2017, an unidentified correctional officer did not allow Plaintiff to shower. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff asked a correctional officer[5] to speak with a lieutenant, but his request was denied. Id.

         Correctional Officer Menendez

         On September 28, 2017, Plaintiff did not receive his dinner tray. (Doc. 1, p. 9). When he asked why, Correctional Officer Menendez said it was because he did not like Plaintiff. Id.

         Mishandled Grievance

          Plaintiff has grieved these issues, but has not received a response. Id. Plaintiff personally delivered one grievance to John/Jane Doe 5 (Unknown Counselor of Pinckneyville CC of 6-House), but the grievance was never returned. Id.

         Dismissal of Improper Defendants

         IDOC, Graham Correctional Center, and Pinckneyville Correctional Center

         Plaintiff's claims against IDOC are barred because IDOC, as a state agency, is not a “person” that may be sued under § 1983. Thomas v. Illinois, 697 F.3d 612, 613 (7th Cir. 2012). Defendants Graham Correctional Center and Pinckneyville Correctional Center are divisions of a state agency (IDOC). Accordingly, claims against these entities are also barred.

         IDOC, Graham Correctional Center, and Pinckneyville Correctional Center shall be ...


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