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Hamilton v. Brookman

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 22, 2018

DANIEL ROBERT HAMILTON, # B-26391, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the Court for a merits review of Plaintiff Daniel Hamilton's Fourth Amended Complaint (Doc. 20), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Plaintiff was an inmate at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”) when he filed this action. He has since been released from incarceration. (Doc. 18).

         The Court dismissed Plaintiff's original 92-page Complaint (Doc. 1) because it contained multiple, overlapping statements of claim, which made it impossible to discern which of the many piecemeal statements should be evaluated as the operative Complaint. Plaintiff was ordered to submit an amended complaint. (Doc. 8).

         In response to that Order, Plaintiff filed a 134-page First Amended Complaint (Doc. 9) which was accompanied by 136 pages of exhibits. Before the Court could complete its § 1915A review of that pleading, Plaintiff submitted a Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. 12). It was followed by 2 piecemeal “supplements.” (Docs. 13 & 14). While the Second Amended Complaint was undergoing preliminary review, Plaintiff submitted yet another pleading, which was filed as the Third Amended Complaint on. (Doc. 15). It contained an 88-page statement of claim, 82 pages of exhibits, and named 18 individual Defendants. In the Third Amended Complaint, Plaintiff raised claims including improper disciplinary hearings and punishment in solitary confinement during 2015 and 2016; placement in a cell with a dangerous cellmate who attacked him; deprivation of bedding, clothing, cleaning and hygiene supplies; and denial of a religious diet and access to worship services.

         On October 2, 2017, this Court dismissed the Third Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (Doc. 16). The undersigned noted that the pleading's length and lack of coherency violated Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, and that Plaintiff's to identify Defendants by name in the statement of claim made it impossible to determine which claims were made against which individuals. (Doc. 16, pp. 7-10).

         Plaintiff was given one final opportunity to submit a properly drafted amended complaint. He was warned that if his amended pleading failed to state a claim or failed to comply with the Court's directions, this case would be dismissed with prejudice and he would be assessed a “strike” pursuant to § 1915(g). (Doc. 16, pp. 10, 13-14).

         The Fourth Amended Complaint (Doc. 20)

         The Fourth Amended Complaint, at 75 pages, is no more concise than Plaintiff's earlier attempts. That said, it is more coherent and Plaintiff includes references to most of the 20 Defendants in his 57-page statement of claim. He asserts forth 13 numbered claims for relief (although his 9th claim was omitted, apparently by mistake). (Doc. 20, pp. 31-42; 59-70). Plaintiff begins his narrative by identifying himself as a “Pro Black Hebrew Israelite Severely Mentally Ill. inmate.” (Doc. 20, p. 14). On April 24, 2015, he was moved to the “Menard CC Slave Plantation of the IDOC, ” where his religious affiliation was noted on the back of his inmate ID card. He wrote a grievance about his housing placement, noting that he had only a 20-month sentence. Phoenix (counselor) responded that Plaintiff had previously paroled from Pontiac Correctional Center (“Pontiac”) maximum security in April 2010, but after 6 months, he would be eligible for his requested placement in minimum security as well as the drug and alcohol treatment program. (Doc. 20, p. 15). Phoenix stated that he submitted Plaintiff for a transfer to the minimum security unit. Plaintiff was moved to the lower-security area in September 2015. (Doc. 20, p. 16).

         Before the September 2015 transfer, Plaintiff had been receiving mental health treatment for severe depression and bi-polar disorder. His Zoloft prescription had been increased to the maximum dosage of 200 mg, and his doctor changed his Lithium prescription. (Doc. 20, p. 16).

         At some undisclosed date, Plaintiff had written a formal complaint to the FBI about conspiracy to violate his civil rights during his imprisonment at Menard and Pontiac between March 2003 and April 2012. (Doc. 20, p. 17). He alleged he had been placed in solitary confinement and was assaulted in prison. However, the Fourth Amended Complaint provides no details as to where or when these events occurred. On September 15, 2015, Plaintiff was notified by the FBI that this complaint had been forwarded to its Office of the Executive Secretary for review. (Doc. 20, pp. 17-18; Doc. 20-1, p. 1). Plaintiff believes that this FBI complaint triggered various acts of retaliation against him, including his placement in segregation with a violent gang-member inmate.

         On November 4, 2015, Plaintiff was issued an allegedly false disciplinary report by Cowell and Horn after he had attended his Alcoholics Anonymous class.[1] (Doc. 20, pp. 18-19; Doc. 20-1, pp. 5-7). Cowell, Horn, shift supervisor Jones, and reviewing officer Pharrell allegedly disobeyed administrative policies/procedures in handling the disciplinary report, in that Plaintiff was not given 24 hours' notice before his disciplinary hearing and was not offered assistance to prepare his defense while he was in solitary confinement. (Doc. 20, p. 19).

         Plaintiff was found guilty and punished with 1 month in segregation for Horn's report and another month for Cowell's disciplinary charge. (Doc. 20, p. 29; Doc. 20-1, pp. 11-12). He was moved from the lower security area to the maximum-security segregation wing. (Doc. 20, p. 18). He alleges that Butler (Warden), Bebout, Baldwin (IDOC Director), and the Board Members of the Illinois Department of Corrections failed to implement or follow administrative code provisions requiring a review of medical and mental health concerns, differences in age, size, security level, and other issues with reference to potential cellmates, before he was double-celled in segregation with inmate Adams. (Doc. 20, pp. 19-23). On November 9, 2015, when Plaintiff was assigned to the segregation cell, Bebout and Butler allegedly did not comply with the referenced administrative rules/directives when they assigned him to a double cell with inmate Adams. (Doc. 20, pp. 23-24).

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants knew that he is a Pro Black Hebrew Israelite and that he had been diagnosed with a severe mental illness. Adams was incarcerated for murder and was a Gangster Disciple member. On November 15, 2016, Adams attacked and beat Plaintiff. Plaintiff maintains that he did not fight back. (Doc. 20, p. 24). Plaintiff yelled for help and Hoffman arrived, but walked away while Plaintiff was bleeding. (Doc. 20, p. 25). Plaintiff told Hoffman he was attacked, but Bebout said that “It looks like a fight to me.” Id. Hoffman, on orders from Bebout, wrote Plaintiff a disciplinary report for fighting. (Doc. 20-1, p. 8). Plaintiff was treated for his injuries and given 4 sutures. He filed a grievance to Oakley, but she affirmed the “wrongful imprisonments.” Id. Plaintiff received an additional 30-day punishment in segregation for Hoffman's fighting charge. (Doc. 20, pp. 25-26, 29; Doc. 20-1, p. 13). After completing the segregation term, he was sent back to general population, where he remained for 3 months. (Doc. 20, pp. 25-26).

         On June 28, 2016, Basten[2] wrote a “4th” false disciplinary report with no evidence, and Powell and Mich. disobeyed administrative procedures related to the report and Plaintiff's temporary confinement. (Doc. 20, pp. 26-28; Doc. 20-1, pp. 9-10). Plaintiff had been scheduled for release on August 12, 2016, but Basten's report led to the revocation of 1 month of Plaintiff's good conduct credits as well as 3 more months in segregation. (Doc. 20, pp. 27, 29; Doc. 20-1, pp. 14-15). On the day the disciplinary hearing was held, Pharrell[3] issued Plaintiff the “5th” false disciplinary report, allegedly without relevant evidence to substantiate it. (Doc. 20, p. 27; Doc. 20-1, pp. 16-17). Brookman revoked 2 more months of Plaintiff's good time based on Pharrell's report, and Plaintiff got 3 more months in segregation. (Doc. 20, pp. 27, 29).

         Roberts subsequently wrote a “6th” false disciplinary report (on January 5, 2017), and Plaintiff received 14 days in segregation.[4] (Doc. 20, pp. 27, 30; Doc. 20-1, p. 4). Pharrell did not follow administrative policy because he did not sign the disciplinary report, which instead had Powell's signature. (Doc. 20, p. 28). Butler approved all the disciplinary actions and disobeyed administrative policy regarding final summary reports. (Doc. 20, p. 30).

         Plaintiff raises two First Amendment retaliation claims. He asserts that the disciplinary reports were issued against him in retaliation for his 2015 FBI complaint. (Doc. 20, p. 31). He also asserts that the cell placement with the “Chicago Black Gangster Disciple, and an African American Christian inmate” was also done in retaliation for his FBI complaint. (Doc. 20, p. 32).

         His second retaliation claim is that “in response to [Plaintiff's] exercise of protected religious worship to peaceably assemble, ” Defendants deprived him of that right, by issuing false disciplinary reports, “because of [Plaintiff's] complaint about human rights violation and civil rights violation . . . and his institutional offender grievances.” (Doc. 20, pp. 33-34). He further alleges that his religious practice was a motivating factor for Defendants in housing him with the aggressive cellmate. (Doc. 20, p. 35).

         Plaintiff asserts several Eighth Amendment claims, including the failure to protect him from the cellmate who attacked him. (Doc. 20, pp. 35-37). He alleges Defendants knew that Pro Black Hebrew Israelite inmates with a severe mental disability would be at risk if placed in a segregation cell with general population cellmates who have a maximum security classification. Therefore, Defendants were deliberately indifferent to the risk of harm to Plaintiff from being housed in segregation with Adams, and they failed to properly screen and assign Plaintiff to a segregation cell where he would not face that risk.

         Plaintiff also claims that Brookman and Pharrell subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment when they failed to obey administrative policy procedures for his disciplinary hearings, and punished him with solitary/segregation confinement. (Doc. 20, p. 38-39).

         Next, Plaintiff asserts that his segregation cell conditions during the dates of November 4, 2015-February 4, 2016; July 6-November 10, 2016; and January 5-19, 2017 violated the Eighth Amendment. He presents a lengthy list of alleged violations, including the initial placement with cellmate Adams; the failure to then place Plaintiff in a single cell or with another inmate who shares his religious affiliation; lack of sufficient bedding, clothing, soap, pens, a mirror, and cleaning supplies; deprivation of access to the law library or religious services; denial of religious diet and condiments; a 14-day delay in obtaining his personal property; deprivation of commissary and other items not permitted in segregation; having to sleep on a dirty mattress and pillow; being housed in a too-small cell; exposure to temperature extremes in winter without sufficient warm clothing and in summer without a fan; deprivation of mental health treatment for 3 months; exposure to other inmates verbally abusing each other; and many other complaints. (Doc. 20, pp. 40-59).

         He also claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to the risk he would be tortured. (Doc. 20, pp. 59-60); that they conspired to retaliate against him (Doc. 20, pp. 60-61, 63-64); and that they intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon him. (Doc. 20, pp. 61-62).

         Finally, Plaintiff asserts Fourteenth Amendment claims that he was deprived of his personal property and of his liberty without due process, and that he was denied equal protection of the laws “like Pro White Hebrew Israelite Severely Mentally disabled Petitioners-inmates.” (Doc. 20, pp. 65-70).

         Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and an order requiring Defendants to obey their administrative policies and procedures. (Doc. 20, pp. 71, 75).


         Based on the allegations of the Fourth Amended Complaint, the Court finds it appropriate to divide the pro se action into the following Counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the Fourth Amended Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice.

Count 1: Fourteenth Amendment claim for deprivation of a liberty interest without due process against Cowell, Horn, Jones, Pharrell, Butler, Hoffman, Bebout, Oakley, and Roberts, for filing false disciplinary reports against Plaintiff in November 2015 and January 2017, and punishing him with segregation;
Count 2: Fourteenth Amendment claim for deprivation of a liberty interest without due process against Basten, Powell, Mich, Pharrell, Brookman, and Butler, for filing false disciplinary reports against Plaintiff in June and July 2016, and punishing him with segregation and the revocation of sentence credits;
Count 3: Eighth Amendment failure to protect claim against Butler, Bebout, Baldwin, and the Board Members of the IDOC, for failing to implement or follow screening procedures pursuant to the Illinois Administrative code before placing Plaintiff in a double cell with an aggressive cellmate in November 2015;
Count 4: First Amendment retaliation claim against Cowell, Horn, Jones, Pharrell, Butler, Hoffman, Bebout, Oakley, Basten, Powell, Mich, Brookman, and Roberts, for filing false disciplinary reports against Plaintiff and housing him with a dangerous cellmate, because he submitted a complaint to the FBI and/or because he filed grievances, and/or because of his religious practice;
Count 5: Eighth Amendment claims against all Defendants for housing Plaintiff under unconstitutional conditions of confinement while he was in segregation, and for ...

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