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Rice v. Poe

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 20, 2018



          Hurnton United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Jeremiah Rice, an inmate in Danville Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for events that occurred at Vandalia Correctional Center. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. 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 it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

         The Complaint

         On April 1, 2017, Plaintiff had low blood sugar, which made him incoherent, lethargic, and unresponsive. (Doc. 1, p. 7). While transporting Plaintiff to the Health Care Unit (“HCU”), defendant Poe pushed Plaintiff from behind, and tightly handcuffed him, cutting off his circulation and causing numbness and pain in his wrists. Id. Poe then took Plaintiff to the yard office, where he threw him down, placed his knee on Plaintiff's back, choked him, and yelled expletives. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Defendant Winans was present and failed to intervene. Id. Winans threatened to “drug and bury Plaintiff in segregation” if he reported the assault. Id. Winans ordered Poe to take Plaintiff to medical, and Poe dragged Plaintiff back to the HCU. Id.

         Plaintiff's family called the Vandalia Police Department and reported the April 1st assault. (Doc. 1, p. 12). The police department inquired at the prison, and immediately after, Plaintiff was taken to segregation, where he stayed from April 1, 2017 through June 28, 2017. Id. Defendant Osborne issued Plaintiff a disciplinary report because of the report made to the police department. (Doc. 1, pp. 12-13). This disciplinary report cited Plaintiff for interfering or impeding an investigation and giving false information to an employee. (Doc. 1, p. 13). Plaintiff was denied the opportunity to be heard or present evidence at his May 5, 2017 adjustment committee hearing. Id. Defendant Redman found him guilty without calling any of Plaintiff's witnesses. Id. Plaintiff was sentenced to 90 days in segregation, 90 days of C-grade, and the revocation of 90 days good time credit, and a disciplinary transfer. Id. Plaintiff appealed, but the Warden denied his appeal. (Doc. 1, p. 14). Plaintiff alleges that defendant Waggoner refused to provide protection to Plaintiff after he filed a complaint against prison staff in retaliation for his First Amendment conduct. (Doc. 1, p. 16). As a result, Plaintiff was retaliated against. Id.

         On May 10, 2017, Plaintiff was returning from the HCU, when he encountered Lt. Osborne. (Doc. 1, p. 14). Plaintiff stated “good job with the investigation.” Id. Osborne then wrote Plaintiff a false disciplinary report for intimidation, threats, and disobeying a direct order. Id. Plaintiff was found guilty by the adjustment committee on May 11, 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 14-15). He was sentenced to revocation of 30 days of good time credit. (Doc. 1, p. 15). Plaintiff alleges that the guilty verdict was based on the officer's report without any testimonial evidence by any of the officers that allegedly witnessed the incident. Id.


         The severance order designated 5 claims for this action:

Count 1 - Poe and Winans used excessive force and/or failed to intervene in the use of excessive force on Plaintiff on April 1, 2017 in ...

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