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Ingram v. Campbell

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 17, 2019

JOHNNY INGRAM, #R01234, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER CAMPBELL, JOHN DOE 1, and JOHN DOE 2, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Johnny Ingram, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center (“Pontiac”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff claims that when he was housed at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), officials subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement by housing him in a segregation cell with no lights for 88 days (from October 16, 2017 to January 12, 2018). He seeks compensatory damages.

         Plaintiff's Complaint is now before the Court for preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner Complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of a 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 must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). The factual allegations of a pro se Complaint are liberally construed at this phase of litigation. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in the Complaint: Plaintiff has been “diagnosed with hearing voices, multiple personality disorder, some type of schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorders.” (Doc. 5, p. 5). He has also been labeled as “Seriously Mentally Ill” or “SMI.” (Doc. 5, p. 10). On October 16, 2017, Officer Campbell placed Plaintiff in a cell in the segregation unit. (Doc. 5, p. 10). Although the lights in the cell did not work, Officer Campbell did not change Plaintiff's cell assignment; he simply stated he would put in a request to have the lights fixed. Id. Plaintiff remained in the same cell, without lights, for approximately 88 days. Id. During this time, he was confined to his cell for 24-hours a day. Id. Plaintiff filed grievances and sought help from Officer Campbell, John Doe 1, and John Doe 2, but nothing came of his requests. Because of these conditions, Plaintiff suffered from headaches and blurry vision, and his mental health further deteriorated.

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to designate a single Count in this pro se action:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim against Campbell, John Doe 1, and John Doe 2 for subjecting Plaintiff to unconstitutional conditions of confinement.

         The parties and the Court will use this designation in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. Any claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed herein is considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under the Twombly[1] pleading standard.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff claims that Officer Campbell knowingly placed him in a cell without a functioning light source. He also alleges that despite complaining to Officer Campbell, John Doe 1, and John Doe 2, the lights were not repaired and he remained in the same segregation cell without any light for 88 days. These conditions allegedly caused Plaintiff to suffer from headaches, blurry vision, and psychological harm. These allegations are sufficient to allow Count 1 to proceed as to Officer Campbell, John Doe 1, and John Doe 2. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994); Thomas v. Illinois, 697 F.3d 612, 614-15 (7th Cir. 2012).

         Identification of Unknown Defendants

         Frank Lawrence, the Acting Warden of Menard, will be added as a defendant in his official capacity only for the purpose of responding to discovery aimed at identifying the unknown defendants. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 832 (7th Cir. 2009); Fed.R.Civ.P. 21. Guidelines for discovery will be set by the undersigned judge. Once the names of the unknown defendants are discovered, Plaintiff shall file a motion to substitute the newly identified defendants in place of the generic designations in the case caption and throughout the Complaint.

         Appointment of Counsel

         Plaintiff's Motion for Recruitment of Counsel (Doc. 3) is DENIED.[2] Plaintiff discloses several unsuccessful efforts to contact attorneys. Accordingly, he appears to have made reasonable efforts to retain counsel on his own. With respect to his ability to pursue this action pro se, Plaintiff indicates that, although he has some college education, his mental illness and the medication he takes for his mental illness will make it difficult for him to prosecute this action without the assistance of counsel. These alleged impediments suggest that, as this action progresses, Plaintiff may have difficulty proceeding pro se and may require the assistance of counsel. Nonetheless, the Court declines to appoint counsel at this time. Plaintiff's Complaint survives screening and will now be ...


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