Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Austin v. Spiller

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 20, 2018



          Herndon, Judge

         Plaintiff Lazerek Austin, an inmate in Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for events that occurred at Menard and Pontiac Correctional Centers. Plaintiff seeks damages, declarative relief, and injunctive relief. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         However, review of Plaintiff's Complaint reveals that he has attempted to improperly join certain claims. Thus, prior to proceeding with review of this case pursuant to § 1915A, the Court will sever certain claims into a separate case pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 21 and George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff was an inmate at Menard in the spring of 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 4). In April 2017, inmates Henderson, Smith, and Davis attacked several guards, allegedly because the sergeant was frequently drunk and excessively punitive. Id. Plaintiff alleges that prior to January 2018, he had never spoken to Henderson or Smith in his life. (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         In the subsequent investigation, Plaintiff was interviewed by Does # 1 and 2. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Does #1 and 2 asked Plaintiff what gang he was in, and when Plaintiff denied being in a gang, told Plaintiff that other inmates had reported that Plaintiff had approved the assault prior to its occurrence. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). Plaintiff stated that he had no information about the incident, he did not know the inmates involved, and that it seemed to him that the incident was not gang-related. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff repeatedly asked to end the interview because he had no information, but he was repeatedly pressured into making false statements. Id.

         The next day on April 26, 2017, Spiller, Doe #3, and Doe #4 interviewed Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, p. 7). The investigators repeatedly asserted that Plaintiff had something to do with the assault, and Plaintiff repeatedly denied knowing anything about it. (Doc. 1, pp. 7-9). The investigators ultimately threatened Plaintiff, telling him that they could do whatever they wanted to a person in custody, that his grievances would be denied, and that Plaintiff would regret not cooperating. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Spiller told Plaintiff he would be getting a new cell. Id. Gee signed the paperwork placing Plaintiff on investigative status. (Doc. 1-1, p. 5).

         Plaintiff was transferred to the North 2 segregation unit. Id. Plaintiff alleges the conditions in that cell were unconstitutional and that he was deprived of his property. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Plaintiff received an investigative report, but alleges that the report was insufficient to put him on notice of the reason for the investigation. (Doc. 1, pp. 11-12). Plaintiff also alleges that he did not receive an interview in order to respond to the investigative report, as required by Illinois Administrative Code 504.50(c). (Doc. 1, p. 12).

         Plaintiff received an allegedly bogus disciplinary report on May 9, 2017 signed by Spiller alleging that he participated in a security threat group and/or unauthorized leadership activity. Id. Plaintiff alleges that the report failed to detail any prohibited conduct, as required by Illinois Administrative Code 504.30(c)(2)(4)(5). (Doc. 1, pp. 12-13).

         Plaintiff alleges that Spiller conspired with the 5 confidential sources to write the disciplinary report out of retaliation because Plaintiff refused to cooperate with his investigation. (Doc. 1, p. 13). Plaintiff was placed in administrative detention on May 10, 2017, prior to the disciplinary hearing. (Doc. 1, p. 24). When he complained about it to Lashbrook, she told him to file a grievance. (Doc. 1, pp. 24-25). Plaintiff alleges that he was placed in administrative segregation in violation of the Illinois Administrative Code. (Doc. 1, p. 25). Plaintiff alleges that he was improperly placed in administrative segregation when he was on segregation status, and that Hill and Oakley refused to address his grievances regarding his placement. (Doc. 1, pp. 25-26). He further alleges that he was never given a hearing regarding his administrative segregation placement. (Doc. 1, p. 26).

         On May 16, 2017, Plaintiff went before the adjustment committee, chaired by Lt. Brookman. (Doc. 1, p. 15). Brookman told Plaintiff he had to find him guilty because it involved a staff assault and the other officers would be “down his back” if he did not. Id. But Brookman said he would only give Plaintiff 6 months of discipline. (Doc. 1, p. 16). Plaintiff alleges that the adjustment committee quoted Spiller's report verbatim and did not independently determine the reliability of the confidential sources. Id.

         After the hearing, Plaintiff did not get his adjustment committee summary for a couple of weeks. Id. When he asked Spiller why, Spiller told him it was because he was going to receive more than 6 months. (Doc. 1, pp. 16-17). Plaintiff received the summary on June 7, 2017, but in it was not signed by the committee members or the warden in violation of the Illinois administrative code. (Doc. 1, p. 17). As Spiller promised, Plaintiff received 1 year across the board in sanctions. Id. Plaintiff sent his counselor a grievance about the summary; it was denied on June 26, 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 17-18). Plaintiff alleges that Spiller implied that the grievance was denied because “officers were assaulted.” (Doc. 1, p. 18). Lashbrook concurred in the denial. Id. Plaintiff filed another grievance to Hill on June 12, 2017, contesting the increased sanction from 6 months to 1 year. Id. Plaintiff alleges that the second disciplinary report that Hill gave him in response to his complaints was fraudulent; he filed a grievance regarding that report on June 15, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 19). The June 12 and June 15 grievances were denied as duplicates. Id. Plaintiff also filed a grievance on June 13, 2017 regarding the investigative tactics, which he alleges was improperly returned to him for failing to attempt to resolve the issue with his counselor. (Doc. 1, p. 20). Plaintiff also filed a grievance alleging the newly-enacted regulation that he was punished for violating was unconstitutionally vague. (Doc. 1, p. 21). That grievance was also rejected. Id. Plaintiff alleges that all of his grievances were rejected out of retaliation for the staff assault. Id. He further allege that Lori Oakley could not have “thoroughly reviewed” the grievances because she did not respond to all of his issues. (Doc. 1, pp. 21-22). Lashbrook also declined to address the issues. (Doc. 1, pp. 22-23).

         Plaintiff was transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center on November 5, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 27). When he arrived at Pontiac, he was told that he was on administrative segregation and assigned to the administrative detention cell house. Id. Even though Plaintiff alleges that he was originally placed on administrative segregation at Menard, he did not receive an official notice that he was in administrative detention until April 10, 2018. Id. The notice alleged that he was the highest ranking Vice Lord leader in the east cell house at Menard, and had prior knowledge of a major staff assault. Id. Plaintiff had a hearing before French, Horton, Pierce, Forbes, Cox and Jane Doe[1] on April 19, 2018. (Doc. 1 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.