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Stork v. Adams

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 23, 2019

TONY LESTER STORK, Plaintiff,
v.
KAREN ADAMS, TRACY PETERS, and RUSSELL ADAMS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Tony Stork, an inmate at White County Jail located in Carmi, Illinois, filed a Complaint in the Circuit Court for the Second Judicial Circuit for Lawrence County, Illinois. (Doc. 1-1). Plaintiff claims that during his detention at Lawrence County Jail, he was placed in the “drunk tank” on suicide watch for six days without clothing or bedding while the Jail Administrator went on vacation in December 2018. (Id. at pp. 2-8). Plaintiff brings claims under federal and state law against Russell Adams (sheriff), Karen Adams (jail administrator), and Tracy Peters (officer). (Id.). He seeks monetary relief. (Id. at p. 8).

         Defendants removed the case to this federal judicial district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441, 1331, and 1343 on July 3, 2019. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff made no objection, and the Court finds that removal is proper.[1] Accordingly, the Complaint is now subject to preliminary review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Section 1915A requires the Court to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of a complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, meritless, 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). At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in the Complaint: Plaintiff wrote an article about Lawrence County Jail that was published in the local newspaper on or around December 1, 2018. (Doc. 1-1, p. 4). After learning of the article and a local church’s donations, Jail Administrator Adams told Plaintiff that the article and donations were “not appreciated” and that Sheriff Adams had authorized her to reject all Christmas donations from the church. (Id.). Jail Administrator Adams also informed Plaintiff that he would be denied access to the Jail’s law library until the following Tuesday. (Id.).

         Plaintiff admittedly “lost control” and began screaming obscenities at Jail Administrator Adams. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 4-5). She summoned several officers to Plaintiff’s cell. (Id.) Jail Administrator Adams and Officer Peters then forced Plaintiff to remove his clothing, by threatening to shoot him with a taser if he refused. (Id. at p. 2). Plaintiff was placed on suicide watch without cause and in violation of state regulations. (Id.). He was housed in the Jail’s segregated drunk tank for five or six days while Jail Administrator Adams went on vacation. (Id. at pp. 2-8). Plaintiff was denied all clothing[2] and bedding. Officer Peters checked on him and acknowledged that he presented no suicide risk but still denied him these items. (Id.).

         Based on the allegations, the Court finds it convenient to designate the following seven (7) Counts in the Complaint:

Count 1: Retaliation claim against Defendants for denying Plaintiff law library access and transferring him to the drunk tank on suicide watch because he wrote an article about the Jail for the local newspaper in December 2018.
Count 2: Unconstitutional conditions of confinement claim against Defendants for depriving Plaintiff of clothing, bedding, and blankets while he was in the drunk tank in December 2018.
Count 3: Excessive force claim against Defendants Karen Adams and Tracy Peters for threatening use of a taser on Plaintiff if he did not remove all clothing in their presence in December 2018.
Count 4: Prison Rape Elimination Act claim against Defendants Karen Adams and Tracy Peters.
Count 5: Claim against Defendants for placing Plaintiff on suicide watch without cause and without following ...

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