United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center
("Pontiac"), has brought this pro se civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His claims
arose while he was confined at Menard Correctional Center
("Menard"). Plaintiff claims that Defendants failed
to protect him from an attack by his cellmate, despite
Plaintiffs reports of his safety concerns. This case is now
before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint
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. § l9l5A(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 Plaintiff's claims
survive threshold review under § 1915A.
alleges that on October 27, 2016, while he was being held in
protective custody at Menard without a cellmate, C/O Beshears
told him that another inmate would be moved into
Plaintiff's cell. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Inmate Brown, who had
been in the location 2 cells away from Plaintiff, was placed
in Plaintiff's cell. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff was
familiar with Brown, having been warned by Brown's former
cellmate (who had requested a change of cellmate due to
concerns about his safety with Brown) that Brown displayed
bizarre behavior. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff himself had heard
Brown “violently arguing with himself” while in
the nearby cell. Id. Plaintiff asserts that Brown
has been classified by the Illinois Department of Corrections
as “seriously mentally ill” due to his history of
mental health problems, and that Brown has a history of
attacking his cellmates. Id.
Brown was moved into Plaintiff's cell, Plaintiff told
Beshears that Brown should not have a cellmate because of his
mental health problems and erratic behavior, but Beshears
left Brown in Plaintiff's cell. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Shortly
after Brown was moved into Plaintiff's cell, Brown began
talking to himself, with his “conversations”
becoming more volatile and then escalating to Brown punching,
kicking, and yelling at the wall. Id.
next day, Brown told Plaintiff that he needed to
“cleanse the cell” of “demons” after
Plaintiff questioned why Brown was stirring the toilet bowl
with his finger after urinating in it. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Brown
urinated into multiple cups that he kept next to his bed to
“keep the bad spirits away.” Id. The
stench of urine made Plaintiff nauseated. Plaintiff again
notified Beshears that he did not feel safe with the mentally
unstable Brown in his cell. Beshears said he would “see
what [he] could do, ” but took no action. Id.
sent multiple “kites” to Lt. Welborn, Sgt.
Bradley, the cellhouse major, and Internal Affairs, but got
no response. (Doc. 1, p. 11). Plaintiff spoke with the John
Doe Mental Health Worker about his safety concerns with
Brown. This John Doe said he would see what he could do, but
again, nothing was done. Id. Each day, Plaintiff
continued asking officials to move Brown, but no action was
fourth day of Brown being in the cell, Plaintiff returned
from yard and brought Beshears to the cell so he could smell
the urine and observe Brown's behavior. (Doc. 1, pp.
11-12). Beshears saw Brown with his forehead against the
wall, having a conversation with the wall. Beshears shook his
head and walked away. (Doc. 1, p. 12).
fifth day, Plaintiff stopped the John Doe Internal Affairs
Officer as he walked by the cell, and told him that Plaintiff
was in fear for his life “living in the cell with a
crazy person.” Id. The John Doe Internal
Affairs Officer told Plaintiff he would look into the
situation, but he never returned. Brown overheard this
conversation, and told Plaintiff to “stop telling on
me.” (Doc. 1, p. 12).
Beshears made his rounds, Plaintiff repeated his safety
concerns. Brown then told Beshears, “if you don't
move this mother__ somebody is going to die in this
mother__!” (Doc. 1, p. 13). Beshears left, and after he
was gone, Brown got out of bed and punched Plaintiff several
times in the face, injuring his eye and lip. Plaintiff
wrestled Brown to the floor and started choking him. Staff
arrived and ordered Plaintiff to stop, but he did not stop
out of fear that Brown would attack him again if he let go.
Officers sprayed Plaintiff with pepper spray, cuffed him, and
took both Plaintiff and Brown to segregation. (Doc. 1, pp.
Plaintiff was released from segregation, he was at first
ordered to move back into a cell with Brown, but was placed
with a different cellmate after he protested that he was in
segregation for fighting Brown. (Doc. 1, p. 14). A few days