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Gharrett v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 27, 2018

DAVID GHARRETT, #M38621, Plaintiff,
v.
KIMBERLY BUTLER, and JOHN/JANE DOES, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge

         Plaintiff David H. Gharrett, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights that allegedly occurred at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims the defendants failed to protect him from a serious risk of harm at the hands of other inmates in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. 1). This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint 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. 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).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds the Complaint is subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         In his Complaint (Doc. 1), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: on February 19, 2015, Plaintiff's cellmate, Lason Elliot, informed him that they could no longer be cellmates. (Doc. 1, p. 2). Elliot told Plaintiff that if he did not leave the cell, he would be “‘dealt' with by him and others from his gang.” Id. That night, Plaintiff had a call pass to see the psychiatrist. Id. Elliot told Plaintiff that once he left, “he better not come back or something would be waiting for [him].” (Doc. 1, pp. 2-3). Plaintiff immediately began to fear for his safety. (Doc. 1, p. 3).

         Officer John Doe came to get Plaintiff for his psychiatrist appointment, and on the way, Plaintiff told him about the threats Elliot had made. Id. Plaintiff also requested protective custody. Id. The officer told Plaintiff that he would look into it during Plaintiff's appointment, but after the appointment, the officer told Plaintiff that he could go back to his cell or go to segregation. Id. Plaintiff pleaded with him in fear for his life, but the officer once again told Plaintiff that his choice was to be celled with Elliot or in segregation for refusing housing. Id.

         Plaintiff chose to go to segregation to avoid Elliot, and after serving his time there, he immediately requested protective custody. Id. Plaintiff was transferred to the Protective Custody Unit to await approval of his request. Id. After about a week, Plaintiff was interviewed by officers John Doe and Jane Doe. Id. They advised him that his request for protective custody would be denied, despite the threats made by Elliot. Id. They advised Plaintiff that, despite the denial, they would make sure that he was not placed in a cell with any gang members. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff was taken to a cell near where Elliot was housed and immediately noticed that the person in his new cell was a well-known gang member. Id. Plaintiff immediately advised Officer John Doe that he had been told that he would not be placed in a cell with a gang member, but Officer John Doe sent him back onto the gallery. Id. On the way to his cell, another gang member stated to him: “You know you can't go in that cell with my king brother . . . if you go in there your [sic] not coming out.” Id.

         Plaintiff once again left the gallery and advised Officer John Doe of the threat he received. Id. Officer John Doe placed Plaintiff into a holding cell and told him that he would look into the situation. Id. The officer later told Plaintiff that he would have to place Plaintiff in segregation if he refused to go to his cell. Id. Plaintiff requested protective custody but instead was transferred to segregation for refusing housing. Id. Upon his release from segregation, Plaintiff again requested protective custody and was transferred to the Protective Custody Unit to await approval. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). About a week later, Plaintiff was interviewed by officers John Doe and Jane Doe. (Doc. 1, p. 5). He told them about the threats he had received, but they denied his request for protective custody nonetheless. Id.

         Plaintiff filed a grievance about the denial, and he was seen by the Administrative Review Board a few weeks later. Id. Though he fully explained the situation, he was denied protective custody once ...


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