United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections currently
incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center
(“Pinckneyville”), has brought this pro
se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. His claims, which include retaliation, deliberate
indifference to medical needs, and imposition of punishment
without due process, arose during his confinement at Lawrence
Correctional Center (“Lawrence”). The Complaint
is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
§ 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.
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).
these standards, the Court finds that some of Plaintiff's
claims survive threshold review under § 1915A.
suffers from asthma and high blood pressure. On October 11,
2017, he told C/O Ralston that he was short of breath, having
sharp chest pain, and needed medical attention. He told
Ralston that he had standing medical orders to get a
breathing treatment when he got short of breath. (Doc. 1, p.
79). Ralston indicated he would see if a lieutenant could
take Plaintiff to health care after the inmates returned to
the housing unit from the chow line. At Plaintiff's
request, Ralston secured Plaintiff in the shower area so he
could watch him until the lieutenant arrived.
an hour later, Lieutenant Hundley came to take Plaintiff to
health care. Plaintiff had previously sued Hundley over a
December 2016 disciplinary ticket. (Doc. 1, p. 80); Gully
v. Hundley, et al., No. 15-cv-211-DRH-SCW (S.D. Ill.).
Hundley ordered Plaintiff to cuff up and asked why Plaintiff
hadn't locked up when his officer ordered him to do so.
Plaintiff protested that he had never been given such an
order, and that Ralston had locked him in the shower. Hundley
yelled for Plaintiff to cuff up, and Plaintiff did. (Doc. 1
p. 81). Hundley threatened to write Plaintiff “another
ticket” if he was lying about his orders for breathing
treatments. Plaintiff claims that Hundley intentionally
delayed getting him to health care against prison policy that
called for a “code 3 medical emergency” response
to symptoms of chest pain and breathing problems. (Doc. 1,
staff found that Plaintiff's blood pressure was
“exceptionally high.” (Doc. 1, p. 81). Hundley
and Baylor disrupted Plaintiff's treatment, yelling to
the nursing staff that Plaintiff was faking. (Doc. 1, p. 82).
Plaintiff yelled back, and the nurse told them to get out.
Hundley and Baylor then took Plaintiff to segregation. (Doc.
1, p. 83). When Plaintiff protested, Hundley said he would
“bury [Plaintiff's] a** under the seg unit.”
Id. When they got to segregation, Hundley added,
“I'll be getting back to you shortly[, ] my reach
is very far.” Id.
Dixon, Baylor, and Ralston issued five separate disciplinary
tickets to Plaintiff based on the events of October 11, 2017,
including disobeying a direct order, intimidation, threats,
and dangerous disturbances. (Doc. 1, pp. 39-40, 83-84).
October 16, 2017, Basinette (Mental Health Associate)
fabricated a report that Plaintiff was suicidal, despite
Plaintiff's “relentless” arguments that he
did not want to kill himself. (Doc. 1, p. 84). Givens
threatened to call in the Orange Crush team to force
Plaintiff out of his cell, so Plaintiff ultimately agreed to
go to the suicide housing unit. He was placed in a cell that
had urine, feces, and blood smeared on the walls, semen
stains on the mattress, and a terrible foul odor. (Doc. 1, p.
85). Later that day, Basinette came and told Plaintiff that
she put him on suicide watch to teach him a lesson, because
she heard of his situation with her friend Hundley, who has
“a far reach.” Id. Plaintiff remained in
the contaminated watch cell for 48 hours, without clothes to
protect him from the cold. Plaintiff asserts that
Basinette's purpose was to harass, degrade, and torture
him, and that her actions amounted to intentional infliction
of emotional distress. (Doc. 1, p. 86).
October 31, 2017, Plaintiff's disciplinary tickets were
heard by Carie and Cooper. Plaintiff requested to call an
Internal Affairs officer as a witness, but the witness was
never called. (Doc. 1, pp. 86-87). Plaintiff submitted a
written statement in his defense and pled not guilty to all
charges except for a threat to Hundley. (Doc. 1, pp. 41-53;
86-87). Carie made comments to the effect that Plaintiff was
not believable, indicating to Plaintiff that the hearing
committee was not impartial.
and Cooper found Plaintiff guilty. (Doc. 1, pp. 76-78). He
was punished with an extra 30 days on his sentence before he
would be eligible for supervised release (Plaintiff explains
that he does not have “good time” to revoke,
because he is serving a sentence at 100%). (Doc. 1, p. 88).
His punishment also included 90 days in segregation and 180
days' loss of gym, phone, recreation, and commissary
privileges. Plaintiff's segregation cell was infested
with spiders and rats, and he was not provided with cleaning
supplies or personal hygiene items. He was then moved to
Pinckneyville, a transfer which he characterizes as
“retaliatory.” (Doc. 1, p. 89). The transfer was
listed among the punishments resulting from the disciplinary
action. (Doc. 1, p. 77). Plaintiff seeks to hold Warden Lamb
responsible for the alleged due process violations because he
signed off on these punishments, and for the unsanitary
segregation conditions. Id.
seeks compensatory, punitive, and nominal damages. (Doc. 1,
Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
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 mentioned in the
Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be
considered dismissed without prejudice.
Count 1: Eighth Amendment deliberate
indifference claim against Ralston and Hundley, for delaying
Plaintiff's medical treatment for his breathing problems
and chest pain;
Count 2: First Amendment retaliation claim
against Hundley, for intentionally delaying Plaintiff's
medical treatment and issuing a disciplinary ticket because
Plaintiff sued Hundley;
Count 3: First Amendment retaliation claim
against Basinette and Hundley, for placing Plaintiff in a
filthy suicide-watch cell to punish him for suing Hundley;
Count 4: State law claim for intentional
infliction of emotional distress against Basinette, for
placing Plaintiff in a filthy suicide-watch cell when he was
Count 5: Eighth Amendment claim against
Basinette and Givens for housing Plaintiff in a suicide-watch
cell contaminated with human ...