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Gillum v. Jeffreys

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 8, 2019

CORTEZ GILLUM, #B64415, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Cortez Gillum, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this action for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff asserts claims of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, excessive force, unsafe prison conditions, an improper strip search, retaliation, and violations of his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act “ADA”) that allegedly occurred while he was incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). He seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the Court to screen prisoner Complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of the Complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or requests money damages from an immune defendant must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). The Court must also consider whether any claims are improperly joined and subject to severance or dismissal. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).

         The Complaint

         The Complaint alleges the following: In February 2018, Plaintiff fell down a flight of stairs and injured his left shoulder. (Doc. 1, p. 11). For nine months, Dr. Siddiqui told him that x-rays showed nothing was wrong with his shoulder. (Id., p. 12). Eventually, Plaintiff had an MRI which showed damage to his shoulder. (Id.). He was taken off-site to an orthopedic specialist for consultation; that doctor recommended surgery within six months. (Id.). The surgery should have been performed by June 2019, but it has not occurred. (Id.). Plaintiff has been unable to use his left arm since the fall. (Id.). Wexford Health Services, Inc. (“Wexford”) has a practice of delaying and denying off-site consultations and surgeries based on its best interests instead of the best interests of the inmates. (Id.).

         On June 16, 2019, Plaintiff was taken to the health care unit (HCU) for an assessment of his shoulder injury. (Dc. 1, p. 9). The doctor told him another consultation by an off-site physician was required before surgery would be approved by Wexford. (Id.). Plaintiff told the doctor that it had been 22 months since his shoulder was injured, and he had been in unbearable pain and unable to use his left arm. (Id., p. 10). The doctor told him that was a personal problem and refused to give him a front cuff permit or change his pain medication. (Id.).

         Later that day, Plaintiff was taken to an interview room to see Lieutenant Spiller and Lieutenant Gee from the Internal Affairs Division to discuss a threat against his life. (Id.). He was in danger because he had been identified as a jailhouse informant. (Id.). After the interview, Lieutenant Spiller and Lieutenant Gee escorted Plaintiff to his cell in handcuffs in view of inmates in the North 2 cellhouse, who are all convicted murderers. (Id.). Lieutenant Spiller and Lieutenant Gee did not ask any of the inmates to move away as they walked him through the cellhouse. (Id.).

         Lieutenant Spiller and Lieutenant Gee pulled Plaintiff from his cell again three or four days later. (Id.). They questioned him about whether he had faked a seizure. (Id.). He told them he had been epileptic for 30 years and had not faked a seizure. (Id.). They told him there was no record that he was epileptic, and he would be receiving a disciplinary report. They proceeded to again escort him to his cell through a group of unrestrained inmates. (Id.). Plaintiff told them that they were endangering his health and safety because other inmates were going to think he was an informant. (Id.). It is commonly known that when an inmate is walked to his cell in this manner that he is an informant. (Id.).

         Plaintiff suffers from epilepsy which causes him to have seizures. (Id.). While at Menard, he was often housed in a cell alone for 30 to 40 days at a time with no way of alerting prison staff when he was having a seizure. (Id., p. 11). He suffered multiple seizures while housed in segregation from October 2018 to May 31, 2019, due to inadequate medical care. (Id., p. 16). He had a seizure in September 2018 during which he vomited all over the floor and walls and hit his head on the floor. (Id., p. 11). A nurse checked on him but did not provide medical care. (Id.). He filed a grievance due to the slow response time of the medical staff and the inadequate medical treatment he received for the injuries he suffered during the seizure. (Id.). He also wrote letters to Warden Lawrence, IDOC Director Jeffreys, and Senator Tammy Duckworth complaining about inadequate medical care for his seizures and requesting an inquiry because Dr. Siddiqui does not have the proper training or credentials to treat epilepsy. (Id.). In response, Dr. Siddiqui and the nurse who failed to provide medical care after the September 2018 seizure informed the nursing staff that Plaintiff did not have epilepsy to cover up their failure to provide adequate medical care. (Id.). Now the nursing staff is not taking his epilepsy condition seriously. (Id.).

         On June 12, 2019, Plaintiff had a medical emergency and was going to be sent off-site for medical care. (Id., p. 12). Correctional Officer (“C/O”) Bland called two inmates to Plaintiff's cell and ordered the inmates to strip search Plaintiff. (Id.). While Plaintiff was nude and lying on his back on the floor, his penis was touched. (Id.). C/O Bland then ordered the inmates to lift and roll Plaintiff. (Id.). While rolling him, one of the inmates slid four fingers between Plaintiff's buttocks and pushed a finger into his anus. (Id.). Plaintiff later reported the sexual abuse to Warden Lawrence and made a report pursuant to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) (Id., p. 13).

         Plaintiff was housed in the health care unit from May 31, 2019 to June 13, 2019. (Id., p. 14). When he was being discharged by Dr. Siddiqui, they discussed the fact that the sinus medication he had been given for a sinus infection (that he had since February 2019) was not working. (Id.). Dr. Siddiqui told him there was no other medication he could provide and walked away. (Id.).

         When preparing to leave the HCU, Plaintiff asked C/O Bland to get Sergeant Bebout for him. (Id.). C/O Brandt told Plaintiff there was no time for that and to turn around to get handcuffed. (Id.). Then C/O Brandt exhibited the handcuffs and his fist in a “menacing manner” causing Plaintiff to fear for his safety. (Id., pp. 14, 15). Plaintiff stated that it is IDOC policy that if he has a problem with staff, he has a right to request that a supervisor be called to handle the issue. (Id., p. 15). Sergeant Bebout was called and spoke with him. (Id.). While they were talking, Lieutenant Lee arrived and told Plaintiff he was going to segregation. (Id., p. 16). Plaintiff asked why, and Lieutenant Lee told him to read the disciplinary report. (Id.). He was placed in a stripped cell in segregation for eleven days without any hygiene items, clothing, or a bedroll. (Id.).

         After Plaintiff received the disciplinary report, he wrote a grievance and a letter to the Warden advising him that C/O Brandt lied and provided misleading information in the disciplinary report. (Id., pp. 16, 17). He did not receive a response. (Id., p. 17). On July 24, 2019, C/O Brandt came to Plaintiff's cell to take him for a mental health interview. (Id.). C/O Brandt told him to drop the grievance or things would get very bad for him. (Id.). C/O Brandt told Plaintiff that he was lucky they were on camera or else he would show him he was not playing around, and this was his only warning. (Id.). C/O Brandt handcuffed Plaintiff, then twisted and pulled on the handcuffs in order to intentionally cause Plaintiff pain. (Id.).

         Plaintiff also alleges the following in a Memorandum of Law attached to his Complaint: Following his incarceration at Menard, in June 2014, Plaintiff wrote to Warden Kimberly Butler advising her that he suffered from epilepsy, a convulsive seizure disorder, and explaining that Menard is not designed to house epileptic inmates. (Doc. 1-1, p. 2). He further advised her that he qualified for a medical transfer pursuant to the ADA because his epilepsy was a qualified disability. (Id., p. 3). Butler did not respond. (Id.). Plaintiff sent Butler another letter two weeks later but “this problem still hasn't been dealt with.” (Id.)

         Preliminary Dismissals

         Plaintiff makes allegations against Kimberly Butler, but she is not identified as a defendant in the case caption. The Court will not treat an individual not listed in the caption as a defendant and, therefore, any claim against Butler is dismissed without prejudice. Myles v. United States, 416 F.3d 551, 551-52 (7th Cir. 2005) (holding that to be properly considered a party, a defendant must be specified in the caption).

         The Complaint includes allegations that are not associated with any defendant. Plaintiff alleges some doctor denied him a front cuff permit and refused to change his pain medication. He alleges some nurse failed to provide him medical care after a seizure and later she participated in retaliatory conduct. He also alleges he spent eleven days in segregation in a stripped cell without any hygiene items, clothing, or a bedroll. To the extent Plaintiff seeks to raise claims based on these allegations, they are dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim.

         Plaintiff names Jeffreys, Crain, and Lawrence in his deliberate indifference claim for failure to provide adequate medical care for his shoulder injury. He does not make any allegations against these defendants individually. Instead, he alleges only that the defendants are liable for “failure to act in response to repeated complaints.” Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 pleading standards, the Complaint must include a short, plain statement of the case against each individual. An allegation that a group of defendants violated a plaintiff's rights fails to comply with Rule 8. See also Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) (plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim that is plausible on its face”); Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574 (7th Cir. 2009) (threadbare, conclusory allegations are insufficient to state a claim). Because Plaintiff fails to allege specific acts of wrongdoing by each individual, he fails to plead the personal involvement requirement necessary for Section 1983 liability. Gentry v. Duckworth, 65 F.3d 555, 561 (7th Cir. 1995). Accordingly, Crain and Lawrence will be dismissed without prejudice. Jeffreys will be dismissed in his individual capacity but, to the extent Plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief, Jeffreys will remain in the case in his official capacity. See Gonzalez v. Feinerman, 663 F.3d 311, 315 (7th Cir. 2011) (proper defendant in a claim for injunctive relief is the government official responsible for ensuring any injunctive relief is carried out).

         As mentioned above, Plaintiff references the Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) in his Complaint. To the extent he is attempting to bring a PREA claim, it is dismissed, because PREA does not support a private cause of action. Truly v. Moore, No. 16-cv-00783-NJR, 2017 WL 661507 (S.D. Ill. 2017) (collecting cases and dismissing PREA claim).


         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court divides this action into the following counts:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Siddiqui and Wexford for delaying and denying medical treatment for Plaintiff's shoulder injury.
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Siddiqui for denying Plaintiff further medical treatment for a sinus infection after previously prescribed medication had been ineffective.
Count 3: Eighth Amendment claim against Spiller and Gee for leading other inmates to believe Plaintiff was an informant which exposed him to a risk of physical harm and ...

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