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Berry v. Dennison

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 20, 2018

DEWAUN A. BERRY, No. K56415, Plaintiff,


          STACI M. YANDLE, United States District Court Judge.

         Plaintiff DeWaun A. Berry, formerly an inmate at Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] Plaintiff contends that his constitutional rights were violated when Shawnee officials failed to repair a hole in his mattress.

         Plaintiff's original Complaint named Jeff Dennison (Shawnee's Warden) as the sole defendant. The Complaint, however, failed to allege that Dennison was personally involved in the alleged constitutional violation. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the Complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         On November 9, 2017, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (Doc. 12). The Amended Complaint names as defendants Dennison, B. Neighbors (Shawnee's Chief Engineer), John Doe (Shawnee's Facility Carpenter), IDOC, Bob Allard (Grievance Officer) and S. Engler (Counselor). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages in connection with his claims. The Amended Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, [2]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 such relief.

         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 of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Amended Complaint

         On July 14, 2017, Plaintiff was transferred to a new cell. (Doc. 12-1, p. 3). When he entered the cell, he “noticed that the bunk springs [were] missing out of the middle of the bunk.” Id. According to the Amended Complaint, so many springs were missing that sleeping on the mattress “caused injury to [Plaintiff's] back.” Id.[3] At some point, Plaintiff went to the healthcare unit and received treatment for a sore and swollen back. (Doc. 12-1, p. 4). Plaintiff remained in the cell, sleeping on the “dangerously” damaged mattress from July 2017 through September 11, 2017. (Doc. 12-1, p. 3; Doc. 12, p. 7).

         Initially, Plaintiff complained to Sams, [4] a correctional officer, about the damaged mattress. (Doc. 12-1, p. 3). Sams indicated that he would submit a request to have the mattress repaired. Plaintiff also filed a grievance on the same day. Id. Engler, a counselor, responded to the grievance on July 26, 2017, stating “the facility carpenter will inspect the bed in 2C65 today and make necessary repairs.” (Doc. 12-1, p. 3; Doc. 12, p. 8). In light of the pending repair, Engler denied the grievance as moot. Id.

         Plaintiff claims that the “facility carpenter” (identified as John Doe in the Amended Complaint) did not come to his cell or make any repairs that day. (Doc. 12-1, p. 3). Therefore, on August 11, 2017, Plaintiff submitted another grievance. (Doc. 12-1, p. 4; Doc. 12, p. 9). Allard, a grievance officer, denied the grievance as moot on August 22, 2017. Id. According to the denial, “Per Chief Engineer - B. Neighbors - the facility carpenter inspected the bed in 2C-65 on July 26th and made necessary repairs.” Id.

         Plaintiff appealed the denial of his grievance on August 24, 2017. (Doc. 12, p. 9). He claimed that his mattress was not inspected by the facility carpenter and was still damaged. Id. The appeal was denied as moot by Ann Lahr, a member of the Administrative Review Board (not a defendant in this action), on October 5, 2017 because Plaintiff had been transferred to a new cell. (Doc. 12, p. 7).

         Plaintiff claims that Defendants “lied about fixing the bed, declared his grievance moot and made him sleep in a bed that was broken once it was brought to their attention.” (Doc. 12-1, p. 5). He also alleges that Dennison is liable because he is Shawnee's warden, because he is responsible for implementing policies at Shawnee and/or because he failed to train his staff “to avoid constitutional violations.” Id.

         IDOC and ...

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