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Flores v. Lamb

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 24, 2018

JUAN J. FLORES, #N90266, Plaintiff,
v.
NICHOLAS LAMB, M. WEAVER, MR. TANNER, MR. BROOKS, LT. OCHS, and MS. HOPPER, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Herndon Judge United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Juan Flores, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Lincoln Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against officials at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”). In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that prison officials ignored his medical permit for a lower gallery and low bunk assignment on February 11, 2017, when a plumbing problem at the prison necessitated a “mass move” of inmates from the lower galleries to the upper galleries. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-10). Following the move, Plaintiff fell down the stairs and injured himself. Id. He now sues those prison officials who refused to honor his permit when moving him to a new cell. Id. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief. (Doc. 1, p. 10).

         The Complaint is now subject to preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, 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.

         The Complaint

         According to the allegations in the Complaint, Plaintiff was housed in a lower gallery at Lawrence (Cell 7-B-Lower-20) on February 11, 2017, when a plumbing problem necessitated the “mass move” of inmates to cells in the upper galleries. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). At the time, Plaintiff was in possession of a medical permit for a lower gallery and low bunk. Id. The prison's physician, Doctor Coe, issued the permit for an indefinite term on July 18, 2016. Id. The defendants were aware of the permit when they made the decision to move Plaintiff to an upper gallery (Cell 6-A-Upper-16). Id.

         Inmates were allegedly moved to highly undesirable locations. (Doc. 1, p. 9). They were placed in cells with prisoners who were deemed to be mentally ill, predatory, or unsanitary. Id. Plaintiff does not describe his own living arrangements, cell assignment, or conditions after the move. Id. However, he says that the staff had a widespread practice of “turning a blind eye” to these living arrangements, regardless of the safety hazards they posed to inmates. Id.

         On February 13, 2017, Plaintiff fell down the stairs while attempting to use the phone. (Doc. 1, p. 7). C/O Johnson[1] witnessed the fall, as did several inmates. Id. Plaintiff sustained injuries to his back and hip that resulted in a loss of mobility. Id. He now requires an assistive device. Id. He also suffers from pain that necessitates his use of medication on a daily basis. Id. Plaintiff does not assert a claim for the denial of medical care arising from his fall. (Doc. 1).

         He instead brings this suit against those prison officials who were responsible for moving him to an upper gallery, in violation of his medical permit. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-3). This includes C/O Weaver and C/O Hopper, the two placement officers who were responsible for classifying inmates and making housing decisions on February 11, 2017. Id. He also names C/O Tanner and C/O Brooks, two wing officers who coordinated the transfer of inmates from the lower galleries to the upper galleries on February 11, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff informed both wing officers about his medical permit before the move, and they promised to transfer him to a cell in the lower gallery once the plumbing problem was addressed. Id. Plaintiff also names two supervisory officials, Zone Lieutenant Ochs and Warden Lamb, both of whom were allegedly aware of his medical permit on February 11, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 8).

         Plaintiff asserts claims against the defendants under the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-9). He seeks monetary damages against them. (Doc. 1, p. 10). He also seeks an injunction prohibiting Lawrence officials from interfering with his ability to exhaust his administrative remedies by mishandling his grievances and prohibiting prison officials from placing ...


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