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Holt v. Hamilton

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

July 18, 2019




         This cause is before the Court for merit review of the Plaintiff's complaint. The Court is required by 28 U.S.C. §1915A to “screen” the Plaintiff's complaint, and through such process to identify and dismiss any legally insufficient claim, or the entire action if warranted. A claim is legally insufficient if it “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §1915A.

         Plaintiff, a pro se prisoner, alleges Assistant Warden Robert Hamilton and Officer Gaines violated his constitutional rights at the East Moline Correctional Center. Plaintiff says on July 12, 2018, Inmate DP and two other inmates accused Plaintiff of stealing Inmate DP's property. Plaintiff denied any involvement. Plaintiff says Defendant Gaines escalated the hostility between the inmates when he asked Plaintiff the basis of his criminal conviction. Plaintiff responded “theft, ” and Defendant Gaines said Plaintiff was likely involved in taking Inmate DP's property.

         Plaintiff was housed on a separate unit from Inmate DP and the two other inmates. Plaintiff explains the two units are “separated by two doors that are to be secured at all times.” (Comp., p. 6). Nonetheless, Inmate Gaines was observed allowing the three inmates into Plaintiff's living unit later in the day.

         Inmate DP and the two inmates approached Plaintiff and asked about the property. Plaintiff claims the inmate's pushed him into a room and assaulted him. The three inmates then returned to their own housing unit.

         Plaintiff's attached grievance claims Plaintiff later reported the incident to correctional officers and he was taken to Internal Affairs. Plaintiff was placed in segregation under investigation.

         Defendant Assistant Warden Hamilton walked through the segregation unit a few days later on July 15, 2018. Plaintiff says he “was unable to have him stop at my cell door, so I yelled for him once he exited the building through my window…” (Comp., p. 15). Plaintiff first asked the Assistant Warden why he was still in segregation since Plaintiff was the victim of the assault. Defendant Hamilton explained even if Plaintiff did not start the incident and even if Plaintiff struck another inmate in self-defense, Plaintiff would still be guilty of fighting pursuant to Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) rules.

         Plaintiff next said he needed medical attention, and the Defendant told Plaintiff to submit a sick call request. Plaintiff then admitted he had seen two nurses, but he needed immediate medical attention since he was “unable to move his hand completely.” (Comp, p. 9, p. 15). Defendant Assistant Warden Hamilton told Plaintiff if he needed immediate medical attention, he would need to speak with a correctional officer on his unit.

         Plaintiff's grievance indicates he was given Tylenol for pain at some unspecified time although he claims it did not help. Plaintiff's hand was x-rayed on July 17, 2018 revealing his thumb was broken. (Comp., p. 16). Plaintiff was taken to an orthopedic surgeon who performed surgery on July 20, 2018. (Comp., p. 22).

         Plaintiff has also attached a copy of a disciplinary report issued to the Plaintiff for fighting. (Comp, p. 26). The Internal Affairs investigation indicated Inmate DP snuck into Plaintiff's living unit on July 12, 2018 and confronted Plaintiff about some nude books he believed Plaintiff had stolen. Two confidential informants stated the argument “led to both inmates fighting” inside a cell. (Comp., p. 26). Both inmates exchanged several punches and each inmate was injured. The report also claims the Plaintiff admitted fighting with Inmate DP. There is no mention of any other inmates involved in the incident.

         Plaintiff was found guilty of fighting and received one month of c-grade status as well as one month in segregation. It is not clear if Plaintiff also lost good time credits. (Comp., p. 13, 18).

         Plaintiff has articulated a failure to protect claim against Defendant Correctional Officer Gaines. While the Disciplinary Report states Inmate DP snuck onto Plaintiff's housing unit, Plaintiff claims he can demonstrate the Defendant intentionally allowed Inmate DP and two others into his housing unit. Plaintiff has attached affidavits from two witnesses to support his claim. (Comp., p. 20, 21).

         Plaintiff has not clearly articulated a claim against Defendant Assistant Warden Hamilton. Plaintiff does not allege the Defendant was personally involved in writing the disciplinary ticket or the finding of guilt. More important, while Plaintiff disagrees with the IDOC policy concerning fighting, two confidential sources indicated Plaintiff threw punches at Inmate DP and both inmates were injured. Plaintiff has not alleged a violation of his due process rights, nor a violation of any other constitutional right.

         In addition, Plaintiff has not articulated a claim based on deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition against the Defendant Hamilton. Plaintiff admits he was yelling to the Defendant from his window after the Defendant had exited the building. Therefore, Plaintiff does not claim Defendant Hamilton could see his injury. The Assistant Warden was not responsible for providing medical care, nor does Plaintiff allege Defendant Hamilton would provide medical care. Furthermore, Plaintiff admits he told Defendant Hamilton he had already seen two nurses. In addition, the Defendant did not prevent Plaintiff from receiving care, but instead told Plaintiff how to request sick call or immediate medical attention. The fact that Plaintiff chose to yell from his window to the Assistant Warden who was outside the building does not make the Defendant liable for problems with his medical care. See Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 595 (7th ...

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