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Sawyer v. Dennison

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 30, 2019

ALAN SAWYER, #Y26479, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN DENNISON, LT. HAMILTON, SGT. MARVIN, OFFICER HORN, and OFFICER STUDLEY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          PHILIP G. REINHARD, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE [1" name="FN1" id="FN1">1]

         Plaintiff Alan Sawyer, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Big Muddy River Correctional Center, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights, which occurred while at Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”). Plaintiff alleges that several prison officials used excessive force against him and is seeking a declaratory judgment and money damages.

         This case is now before the court for preliminary review of the complaint 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 Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in the complaint: Following lunch on January 4, 2019, plaintiff and several inmates in Segregation Unit 1 kept the lunch trays in protest to the severe cold conditions in the unit. Later that afternoon following shift change, defendants Hamilton, Marvin, Horn, and Studley came into the unit and began collecting the trays. Plaintiff asked Marvin what was going to happen with the heat situation and after exchanging words, Marvin and Horn entered plaintiff's cell and twisted his arms behind his back, slamming him into the bunk and onto the floor. Marvin, Horn, and Studley placed a mechanical restraint on his left arm twisting and applying pressure resulting in extreme pain. Hamilton, Marvin, Horn, and Studley then walked plaintiff down to an open holding area where they slammed him to the floor and began, along with other unknown officers, punching and kneeing him. At certain points during the assault there were so many officers on top of him that he was unable to breath. Eventually he was taken to the medical unit for his injuries.

         Plaintiff alleges that the Warden of Shawnee, Dennison, knew that Marvin had a history of using force against inmates and did not intervene or protect plaintiff as well as others.

         Based on the allegations in the complaint, the court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following counts:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim of excessive force against Hamilton, Marvin, Horn, and Studley for physically assaulting plaintiff.
Count 2: Assault and battery claim in violation of Illinois state law against Hamilton, Marvin, Horn, and Studley.
Count 3: Eighth Amendment claim against Dennison for failing to protect plaintiff from or intervene in the physical assault.

         The parties and the court will use these designations 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 in this order is considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under the Twombly pleading standard.[2]

         Discussion

         As an initial matter, plaintiff seeks monetary damages against defendants Hamilton, Marvin, Horn, Studley, and Dennison in both their individual and official capacities. ([1], p. 1). State officials named in their official capacities may not be sued for monetary damages in federal court. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 1 U.S. 58');">491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989); Wynn v. Southward, 1 F.3d 588');">251 F.3d 588, 592 (7th Cir. 2001). Therefore, the official capacity claims directed against these individuals will be dismissed without prejudice.

         Coun ...


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