United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
currently incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center
(“Stateville”), brings this pro se civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging
that he was subjected to excessive force, retaliation,
unconstitutional confinement in a filthy cell, and deliberate
indifference to medical needs while he was incarcerated at
Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). Plaintiff
names 38 individual Defendants. The Complaint is now before
the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 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).
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 “no
reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.”
Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir.
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. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on
its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
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. At the same time, however, the factual
allegations of a pro se complaint are to be
liberally construed. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d
742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
these standards, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claims
survive threshold review under § 1915A.
statement of claim is a 24-page, mostly chronological
narrative that details his encounters with each of the 38
Defendants while he was confined at Menard between November
30, 2016, and January 4, 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 28-51). Plaintiff
was held for that entire period in Cell #443 in the North Two
Cell House, Four Gallery. (Doc. 1, p. 28). The cell had been
flooded from water that overflowed from the sink because of a
clogged drain; the toilet was also clogged and was filled
with urine, feces, toilet tissue and blood. When Plaintiff
flushed the toilet, the contents overflowed onto the floor.
The cell was also contaminated with toilet water that leaked
from the cell above and ran down the wall and underneath the
cell's light fixture any time the toilet was flushed in
the upper cell. The sink provided only warm water (no cold)
for drinking. Plaintiff's mattress was contaminated with
dried and moist blood, as were the walls, floor, and sink.
The cell constantly smelled of human waste and mildew. It was
infested with gnats, flies, and cockroaches or waterbugs that
crawled on Plaintiff and stung him while he tried to sleep.
Plaintiff developed sores and blisters on his skin from the
insect bites, as well as skin irritation, itching, and
possible ringworm from the filthy mattress, which was also
contaminated with human hair. The dust and hair throughout
the cell and lack of ventilation caused him to sneeze. The
cell had no functioning light, hindering Plaintiff's
ability to read and write, and he got headaches and dizziness
whenever sun would shine into his eyes. (Doc. 1, pp. 28-29).
arrived at Menard on November 30, 2016, as the result of a
court writ transfer from Stateville Correctional Center.
(Doc. 1, p. 28). Major F. Eovaldi came up behind Plaintiff
while he was in the chapel building facing the wall, and
grabbed Plaintiff's hands and fingers, twisting and
bending them. Eovaldi told Plaintiff that he and Major J.
Carter, Sgt. Hudson, C/O Spiller, William Spiller (of
Internal Affairs), Lt. K. Brookman, and other officers knew
that Plaintiff was returning to Menard that day, and had a
“fucked up” cell waiting for him. (Doc. 1, p.
28). Eovaldi claimed that these Defendants and other officers
had told all the staff members they know, not to do anything
to correct the conditions in the cell, because they hoped
Plaintiff would “get real sick” from being housed
there. Id. Plaintiff was then escorted to Cell # 443
December 1 and 2, 2016, Sgt. Lindenberg came to
Plaintiff's cell, where he observed the conditions and
Plaintiff told him about all the problems with the cell.
(Doc. 1, p. 29). Lindenberg told Plaintiff he should know
that he would be getting mistreated by staff due to
Plaintiff's past history of committing a staff assault.
Lindenberg confirmed he was aware of the cell conditions
before Plaintiff was placed there, and he was not going to do
anything to fix the problems.
December 1 and 2, 2016, C/O Sanders told Plaintiff that he
was not going to have the cell cleaned or unclog the toilet
or sink, because he was told that Plaintiff had filed court
complaints against Menard staff, so Plaintiff would have to
stay in the filthy cell. (Doc. 1, p. 29). Sanders escorted
Plaintiff to a visit with a mental health professional (Ms.
Franklin, who is not a Defendant), and warned Plaintiff that
he had better not tell Franklin about the bad cell conditions
or complain about staff mistreatment, because if he did, he
would not like what was going to happen to him. Plaintiff did
not report any of the cell problems or staff misconduct to
Franklin, in fear of the consequences. Plaintiff did ask to
speak to Sgt. Young (who was also with Sanders) alone.
However, Young told Plaintiff they had nothing to talk about,
because he would not be getting any cleaning supplies and the
cell was going to stay the way it is. (Doc. 1, p. 29).
remainder of the Complaint describes similar daily encounters
with the other Defendants. Many of these individuals
allegedly told Plaintiff that he was placed in the cell as
retribution for his past assault on a fellow staff member.
Nearly all of the Defendants also allegedly brought up the
fact that Plaintiff had filed grievances and/or that he
recently testified in this Court in another lawsuit about bad
treatment by Menard staff members (a number of them named as
Defendants in this action) - and referenced his litigation
activity and/or his grievances as the reason for
Plaintiff's placement in the cell, as well as various
Defendants' refusal to remedy the bad conditions.
to Plaintiff, a group of Defendants engaged in a coordinated
effort to arrange for his placement in the filthy cell. The
officers who had Plaintiff housed in Cell # 443 then obtained
the agreement of the other Defendants to leave Plaintiff in
the cell, and take no action to correct the problems or
provide Plaintiff with any hygiene or cleaning supplies,
sheets, blankets, laundry services, access to showers, or
clean clothing. Several medical-provider Defendants refused
to provide Plaintiff with medical attention for his skin
irritation or other health complaints, in support of the
joint effort to keep Plaintiff in the miserable conditions as
retaliation for his litigation and grievance activity.
alleges that all 38 Defendants had direct knowledge of the
unsanitary cell conditions, yet refused to do anything to fix
them and/or refused to move Plaintiff to another cell. These
individuals are: Eovaldi (Doc. 1, p. 28),  Lindenberg (pp.
29, 41-42, 44-45), Sanders (p. 29), Lt. J. Engelage (p. 29,
40, 42), C/O Engelage (pp. 29-30), Sgt. M. Hudson (pp. 30,
34-35, 38), Lt. Witthoft (p. 30), Lt. Jetton (p. 30), Sgt. S.
Young (p. 30), Major J. Carter (pp. 30, 41, 44), C/O Spiller
(pp. 30-31), C/O Swisher (p. 31), Lt. Hof (pp. 31-32, 43),
Sgt. M. Laminack (pp. 31-32, 47-48), Lt. C. Bump (pp. 32,
35-36), Sgt. Mercer (pp. 32-33, 35), Sgt. Snell (pp. 33, 41),
C/O J. Morris (p. 33), Lt. L. Mennerich (pp. 33-34, 41,
44-45), CMT Rena Engelage (Medical Technician) (p. 35), C/O
Dennis Hartman (p. 36), C/O Roth (p. 36), CMT Aimee Lang (pp.
36-37), C/O J. Gardiner (pp. 37, 39, 42-44), CMT Nicole
Marshall (pp. 37, 47-49), C/O B. Myers (pp. 38, 43, 49), Lt.
K. Brookman (p. 39), Lt. K. Held (pp. 39-40), C/O J. Slavens
(p. 42), C/O McCarthy (pp. 42-46), C/O Wooley (pp. 43,
45-46), C/O Sanders (p. 44), C/O Shaun Gee (pp. 45, 48), C/O
Phelps (pp. 45-46), Sgt. William Spiller (p. 45), Major
Raymond Allen (p. 49), Lt. Scott (pp. 49-50), and Lt. Bruce
Gutreuter (p. 50).
38 Defendants, the only individuals who did not directly tell
Plaintiff that his prior lawsuit or grievances against Menard
officers was the reason for their conduct toward him are
Eovaldi (Doc. 1, p. 28), Lindenberg (pp. 29, 41-42, 44-45),
J. Morris (p. 33), and Lt. Scott (pp. 49-50). However,
Plaintiff alleges that Swisher told him that Eovaldi was one
of the officers who decided to place and hold Plaintiff in
Cell #443 because of Plaintiff's prior grievances (p.
Technician Rena Engelage told Plaintiff that she and her
colleagues had agreed to destroy any sick call slips he sent
to the Health Care Unit, and to deny him any medical
treatment, except for his prescription medications such as
Depakote that would show up in a blood test. (Doc. 1, p. 35).
CMT's Lang and Marshall made similar comments to
Plaintiff. Each of these 3 Defendants indicated that she was
aware of his current medical complaints from having read his
sick call slips. (Doc. 1, pp. 36-37, 47-49). Those complaints
included dry throat and lips, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain,
itching, dizziness, and headaches, among other issues. (Doc.
1, p. 47). Marshall even commented to Plaintiff that she
believed he had already caught Hepatitis-C due to the cell
conditions. (Doc. 1, p. 48). Marshall, Lang, and R. Engelage
refused to treat Plaintiff for any of these conditions.
of the Defendants informed Plaintiff that they had him on
“mail watch” so that if he tried to send out any
grievances, they would be intercepted and destroyed. (Doc. 1,
p. 33). On several occasions, he was not allowed out of his
cell to shower or spend time in the yard. (Doc. 1, p. 38).
Some officers told Plaintiff that they would falsify the
shower logs to indicate that Plaintiff either received or
refused a shower. (Doc. 1, p. 47). He was not given sheets or
blankets, other than a single worn blanket that was full of
holes. (Doc. 1, pp. 40-41).
seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the violations of
his rights. (Doc. 1, p. 52). He further requests a
preliminary and permanent injunction, to order that he not be