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Trice v. Hess

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 1, 2018

JOHN TRICE, # K-73276, Plaintiff,
C/O HESS, BART LIN, and NURSE ANGEL, Defendants.


          David R. Herndon Judge

         Plaintiff was incarcerated at Lincoln Correctional Center (“Lincoln”), at the time he brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He has since been released. (Docs. 9, 11). His claims arose while he was confined at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”), where he was the victim of an attack by his cellmate. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint 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).

         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 “no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.” 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. 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). Although 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).

         After fully considering the allegations in Plaintiff's complaint, the Court concludes that one of Plaintiff's claims survives threshold review.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff's brief statement of claim is as follows:

On or about 12/5/15 while I was [a]sleep the cellmate IM-Torress started beating me in my face/ The C/Os working the shift didn't make no routine rounds [sic] to check on inmates sleeping. I was beaten so bad my entire face was swollen. The Administration Authorities tried concealing the matter. I'm still having problems with my eyes and extreme headaches daily. I went to health care and they took me to the outside hospital because of the seriousness of my injuries. I shouldn't have had to experience this type of brutality in prison.

(Doc. 1, p. 5).

         Plaintiff describes Defendant Hess as the C/O on duty at the time he was beaten. (Doc. 1, p. 1). Lin was the Internal Affairs Officer who investigated the incident, and Nurse Angel documented Plaintiff's injuries. (Doc. 1, p. 2).

         In an attached grievance, Plaintiff states that the cellmate began beating him “without notice, ” punching and choking him for maybe half an hour or more. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Officers were supposed to make rounds every 15 to 30 minutes. Id. This grievance indicates that the pain relief medication prescribed for Plaintiff was delayed, and that he may not have received medical care to address the visual impairment that resulted from the beating. (Doc. 1, p. 11). Plaintiff further states in the grievance that he had brought his safety concerns to the attention of Hess on numerous occasions. Id. Two weeks prior to the beating, he told Hess that the cellmate had said that he “wanted to hurt someone anyone [sic] so that he can be transferred to maximum security.” Id. Hess responded that his “hands w[ere] tied” but he would try to get the cellmate moved. Id.

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages for his pain and suffering. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient 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 ...

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