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Mitchell v. Butler

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

July 27, 2018

TYREE MITCHELL, Plaintiff,
v.
C/O BUTLER, et al., Defendants.

          MERIT REVIEW OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff proceeds pro se from his incarceration in Vienna Correctional Center regarding an incident which occurred in Western Illinois Correctional Center. His Complaint is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This section requires the Court to identify cognizable claims stated by the Complaint or dismiss claims that are not cognizable.[1] In reviewing the complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in Plaintiff's favor and taking Plaintiff's pro se status into account. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to "'state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Alexander v. U.S., 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(quoted cite omitted).

         Plaintiff alleges that on August 20, 2016, Defendant Powers used excessive force to place handcuffs on Plaintiff, taking Plaintiff to the floor. Defendant Powers then allowed Defendants Butler, Hasten, and three other correctional officers to unleash a barrage of excessive force on Plaintiff while Plaintiff was handcuffed, resulting in, among other injuries, blurred vision, a black eye, permanent scars, and pain in Plaintiff's back and ribs. After the excessive force, Defendants Huston and Hunziker kept Plaintiff in a constantly-illuminated segregation cell for three days without a pillow or mattress, occasionally toying with Plaintiff by giving Plaintiff empty lunch trays. Plaintiff believes that Defendants Huston and Hunziker did this because they had been told, falsely, that Plaintiff had assaulted Defendant Powers.

         Plaintiff states Eighth Amendment claims for excessive force, failure to intervene, and inhumane conditions of confinement. These claims will proceed for further development against Defendants Butler, Hasten, Powers, Hunziker, Huston, and the unknown Defendants (listed as “known by face”). However, the current allegations state no plausible constitutional claim against IDOC Director Baldwin, Administrative Review Board member Knauer, or Warden Korte. These Defendants cannot be liable simply because they were in charge or did not discipline the officers. See Matthews v. City of East St. Louis, 675 F.3d 703, 708 (7th Cir. 2012)(“To show personal involvement, the supervisor must ‘know about the conduct and facilitate it, approve it, condone it, or turn a blind eye for fear of what they might see.'”)(quoted cite omitted); George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609-10 (7th Cir. 2007) (“Only persons who cause or participate in the violations are responsible. Ruling against a prisoner on an administrative complaint does not cause or contribute to the violation.”); Soderbeck v. Burnett County, 752 F.2d 285, 293 (7th Cir. 1985)(“Failure to take corrective action cannot in and of itself violate section 1983. Otherwise the action of an inferior officer would automatically be attributed up the line to his highest superior . . . .”).

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:

         1) Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court finds that Plaintiff states Eighth Amendment claims for excessive force, failure to intervene, and inhumane conditions of confinement. These claims will proceed for further development against Defendants Butler, Hasten, Powers, Hunziker, Huston, and the unknown Defendants (listed as “known by face”). This case proceeds solely on the claims identified in this paragraph. Any additional claims shall not be included in the case, except at the Court's discretion on motion by a party for good cause shown or pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15.

         2) Defendants Korte, Baldwin, and Knauer are dismissed without prejudice.

         3) This case is now in the process of service. Plaintiff is advised to wait until counsel has appeared for Defendants before filing any motions, in order to give Defendants notice and an opportunity to respond to those motions. Motions filed before Defendants' counsel has filed an appearance will generally be denied as premature. Plaintiff need not submit any evidence to the Court at this time, unless otherwise directed by the Court.

         4) The Court will attempt service on Defendants by mailing each Defendant a waiver of service. Defendants have 60 days from the date the waiver is sent to file an Answer. If Defendants have not filed Answers or appeared through counsel within 90 days of the entry of this order, Plaintiff may file a motion requesting the status of service. After Defendants have been served, the Court will enter an order setting discovery and dispositive motion deadlines.

         5) With respect to a Defendant who no longer works at the address provided by Plaintiff, the entity for whom that Defendant worked while at that address shall provide to the Clerk said Defendant's current work address, or, if not known, said Defendant's forwarding address. This information shall be used only for effectuating service. Documentation of forwarding addresses shall be retained only by the Clerk and shall not be maintained in the public docket nor disclosed by the Clerk.

         6) Defendants shall file an answer within 60 days of the date the waiver is sent by the Clerk. A motion to dismiss is not an answer. The answer should include all defenses appropriate under the Federal Rules. The answer and subsequent pleadings shall be to the issues and claims stated in this Opinion. In general, an answer sets forth Defendants' positions. The Court does not rule on the merits of those positions unless and until a motion is filed by Defendants. Therefore, no response to the answer is necessary or will be considered.

         7) This District uses electronic filing, which means that, after Defense counsel has filed an appearance, Defense counsel will automatically receive electronic notice of any motion or other paper filed by Plaintiff with the Clerk. Plaintiff does not need to mail to Defense counsel copies of motions and other papers that Plaintiff has filed with the Clerk. However, this does not apply to discovery requests and responses. Discovery requests and responses are not filed with the Clerk. Plaintiff must mail his discovery requests and responses directly to Defendants' counsel. Discovery requests or responses sent to the Clerk will be returned unfiled, unless they are attached to and the subject of a motion to compel. Discovery does not begin until Defense counsel has filed an appearance and the Court has entered a scheduling order, which will explain the discovery process in more detail.

         8) Counsel for Defendants is hereby granted leave to depose Plaintiff at his place of confinement. Counsel for Defendants shall arrange the time for the deposition.

         9) Plaintiff shall immediately notify the Court, in writing, of any change in his mailing address and telephone number. Plaintiff's failure to notify the Court of a change in mailing address or phone ...


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