United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
John Watson, who was an inmate in the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”) and is currently being held
at the Beaumont Low Federal Correctional Institution in
Beaumont, Texas, brings this action for deprivations of his
constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
events occurring at the St. Clair County Jail. He is seeking
money damages and an order requiring the firing of the
officers involved from their positions. (Doc. 1, p. 7).
Complaint is now before the Court for preliminary review
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the Court to
screen prisoner Complaints and filter out non-meritorious
claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of the
Complaint that is legally frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim for relief, or requests money damages from an
immune defendant must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b). At this juncture, the factual allegations are
liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance
Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).
makes the following allegations: While in custody at St.
Clair County Jail, sometime in the beginning of November
2018, Plaintiff was jumped and severely beaten. (Doc. 1, p.
5). Officer Lazante came and pulled plaintiff out of the
cellblock ordering him to face the wall with his hands in the
air. Id. Due to the severity of his injuries,
Plaintiff was unable to comply, and so Lazante struck him in
the face breaking his jaw. Id. Plaintiff was then
taken to medical, where he was told to sit up straight on the
examination table. Id. He repeatedly told Officer
Jermane that he was unable to sit up and could not breath due
to his injuries, but Jermane just repeated that he needed to
sit up for his examination. Id. Words exchanged
between Plaintiff and Jermane, and then Jermane struck him in
the face. Id. After the nurse examined him,
Plaintiff was put in an interview room for at least an hour
waiting to go to the hospital. St. Clair County Jail did not
send for an E.M.T., and instead drove him to the hospital in
a squad car handcuffed and shackled. Id. At the
hospital, the transport officer made him walk into the
emergency room, even after Plaintiff told him it was too
painful. Id. Plaintiff underwent emergency surgery
to insert a tube in his lung, which had collapsed and was
filling with blood. Id. at pp. 5-6. Plaintiff also
had several broken ribs. Id. at p. 6. It was later
determined that the trauma to his face was too severe for the
local hospital, and so Plaintiff was transported to the
trauma center at St. Louis University Hospital, where he had
reconstructive surgery on his face. Id. The left
side of his face had been crushed damaging his orbital
socket, sinus plate, and jaw. Id. Plaintiff stayed
in the intensive care unit for almost a week, and then
remained at the St. Clair County Jail's infirmary for
five months. Id.
on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it
convenient to divide the pro se action into
the following two Counts. The parties and the Court will use
these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless
otherwise directed by this Court:
Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim of excessive
force against Lazante and Jermane for physically assaulting
Plaintiff resulting in extensive injuries.
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim of
deliberate indifference to serious medical needs against the
St. Clair County Jail.
claims that are not identified above should be considered
dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under
screening Plaintiff's constitutional claim, the Court
must first consider what legal standard applies. The
applicable legal standard for Plaintiff's claims depends
on his status as a pretrial detainee or convicted prisoner
during his detention at the jail. The Eighth Amendment
standards for excessive force and medical deliberate
indifference are applicable if Plaintiff was a convicted
prisoner during the relevant time period. Wilkins v.
Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34 (2010); Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 834 (1994). On the other hand, if Plaintiff was a
pretrial detainee, Plaintiff's claim is governed by the
Fourteenth Amendment, whether the force used or the medical
treatment provided was objectively unreasonable. Kingsley
v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466 (2015); Miranda v.
Cty Lake, 900 F.3d 335, 352 (7th Cir. 2018).
Complaint does not indicate whether Plaintiff was a pretrial
detainee or a convicted prisoner at the time the alleged
incidents of excessive force and medical indifference
occurred. Regardless, the Complaint survives screening
because the allegations support a constitutional claim under
the most stringent of these standards, i.e., the Eighth
Amendment. For purposes of this screening order, the Court
looks to Eighth Amendment case law. Count 1 survives
screening under this standard and the less stringent
standards available to detainees. Accordingly, the Court need
not resolve Plaintiff's legal status at this time.