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Carver v. Ray

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 7, 2019

JONATHON D. CARVER, Plaintiff,
v.
CHRISTOPHER RAY, BENNIE VICK, and WILLIAMSON COUNTY JAIL, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Jonathon D. Carver, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Centralia Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for an incident that took place while Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at Williamson County Jail (Doc. 1, p. 4). In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Christopher Ray used excessive force against him. He asserts claims against the defendant under the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff seeks monetary 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

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff makes the following allegations: While Plaintiff was housed in E block at the Williamson County Jail, [1] Plaintiff got into a verbal confrontation with another inmate, Charles Kaegi. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Deputy Christopher Ray walked up to the two inmates as Kaegi called Plaintiff a child molester. Plaintiff stepped towards Kaegi and Deputy Ray grabbed Plaintiff and placed his right hand behind his back. When Plaintiff attempted to pull his arm away, Deputy Ray took Plaintiff to the ground and smashed Plaintiff's face against the floor making it difficult to breath. Plaintiff turned his head to breath and Deputy Ray instructed Plaintiff to stop moving and then punched Plaintiff in the right temple. (Id.). Ray then cuffed Plaintiff and lifted Plaintiff off the floor. Plaintiff slipped and his face was again smacked against the concrete floor. (Id.).

         Preliminary Dismissals

         Although Plaintiff has identified the Williamson County Jail and Bennie Vick, the sheriff of Williamson County, as Defendants in the case, he fails to allege in the body of his Complaint that they violated his constitutional rights. Further, as to the Williamson County Jail, a jail is not a “person” under § 1983. Smith v. Knox Cnty. Jail, 666 F.3d 1037, 1040 (7th Cir. 2012); Powell v. Cook Cnty. Jail, 814 F.Supp. 757, 758 (N.D. Ill. 1993). It is not a legal entity in the first place and is therefore not amenable to suit. Williamson County Jail will therefore be DISMISSED from this action with prejudice. Bennie Vick is DISMISSED without prejudice for failure to state a claim.

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following count:

Count 1: Fourteenth Amendment Claim against Deputy Christopher Ray for using excessive force against Plaintiff while a pretrial detainee at the Williamson County Jail.

         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 other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under the Twombly pleading standard.[2]

         Because Plaintiff was a pre-trial detainee at the time of the incident, his excessive force claim falls under the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause instead of the Eighth Amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishment clause. Lewis v. Downey, 581 F.3d 467, 473 (7th Cir. 2009). The Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause “protects a pretrial detainee from the use of excessive force that amounts to punishment.” Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2473 (2015). To prove that force was excessive, a “pretrial detainee must show only that the force purposely or knowingly used against him was objectively unreasonable.” Id.

         Here, Plaintiff alleges that in intercepting a verbal confrontation with another inmate, Deputy Ray “smash[ed]” Plaintiff's face into the floor making it difficult to breath and punched him in the head. Thus, Plaintiff has adequately alleged an excessive force claim.

         Pending ...


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