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Bailey v. Menard Correctional Center

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 7, 2019




         Plaintiff Phillip Bailey, an individual who is currently being held at Jackson County Jail, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights while he was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). In the Complaint, Bailey alleges Defendant Trace A. Brown failed to protect him from an inmate assault. He asserts claims against the defendant under the Eighth Amendment. Bailey seeks declaratory judgment and 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, Bailey makes the following allegations: On February 9, 2019, while he was in receiving at Menard, Bailey had an altercation with Inmate Richard “Tattoo”. Inmate Richard was handing out food when he heard Bailey make a comment that angered him. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Sergeant Trace A. Brown opened Bailey's locked cell door to allow Inmate Richard into the cell so that he could assault Bailey. Inmate Richard beat Bailey, and Bailey's cellmate had to intervene. Sergeant Brown was later charged by Randolph County for his role in the assault. (Id.). Bailey did not receive medical treatment until a week later.


         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to designate a single count in this pro se action:

Count 1: Trace A. Brown failed to protect Bailey from the assault by Inmate Richard in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         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.[1]

         Preliminary Dismissals

         To the extent that Menard Correctional Center is listed as a party in Bailey's caption, the correctional center is not a proper party. The Supreme Court has held that “neither a State nor its officials acting in their official capacities are ‘persons' under § 1983.” Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). See also Wynn v. Southward, 251 F.3d 588, 592 (7th Cir.2001)(Eleventh Amendment bars suits against states in federal court for money damages); Billman v. Ind. Dep't of Corr., 56 F.3d 785, 788 (7th Cir.1995) (state Department of Corrections is immune from suit by virtue of Eleventh Amendment). Thus, Bailey cannot maintain his claim against Menard because it is a division of the Illinois Department of Corrections, a state government agency. Based on this authority, Menard is not a “person” within the meaning of the Civil Rights Act and shall be dismissed from this action. See Will, 491 U.S. at 71.

         Bailey also identifies Inmate Richard as a defendant. (Doc. 1, p. 2). Section 1983 is only applicable to those acting under color of law, such as prison officials. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Henderson v. Pate, 409 F.2d 507, 508 (7th Cir.1969) (absent any evidence that an aggressor-inmate was acting under color of law, that inmate cannot be held liable under Section 1983); See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 49 (1988) (“The traditional definition of acting under color of state law requires that the defendant in a § 1983 action have exercised power ‘possessed by virtue of state law and made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law.'”). There are no allegations in the Complaint to suggest Inmate Richard was acting under color of state law when he attacked Bailey. Therefore, Inmate Richard is DISMISSED with prejudice.

         Finally, Bailey's Complaint alleges that he was denied medical treatment and seeks relief from the staff that failed to treat him. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7). He does not, however, associate any named Defendant with that claim. As such, his claim regarding the care he received after the assault is DISMISSED without prejudice.

         Coun ...

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