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Sangathit v. Lawrence

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 14, 2019

PHONAKONE SANGATHIT, #R43542, Plaintiff,
v.
FRANK LAWRENCE, JONES, RESSE, KRAMER, MCCARTHY, EMALDI, ROB JEFFREYS, SIDDIQUI, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES INC., JOHN DOE #1, JOHN DOE #2, JOHN DOE #3, JOHN DOE #4, GEE, and RATAKE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOAN H. LEFKOW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE [1]

         Plaintiff Phonakone Sangathit, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights. Sangathit alleges defendants subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment in retaliation for filing a grievance following the restriction of his visitation rights. He requests money damages and injunctive relief.

         The complaint is now before the court for preliminary review 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). At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         THE COMPLAINT

         Sangathit makes the following allegations in the complaint (Dkt. 1): Sangathit was leaving the recreation yard when he was grabbed from the line by Internal Affairs Officers Resse, Kramer, McCarthy, and Gee. They handcuffed him and took him to the West House shower where they strip searched him and told him to bend over and spread his buttocks, while making derogatory sexual, homosexual, and racial comments. When Sangathit asked why this was being done to him, McCarthy said that “he had pissed off the wrong people, ” and that he will now “think twice about who you write a grievance on.” (Id. at 7.) Sangathit continued to be handcuffed for over two hours while his cell was searched.

         Resse, Kramer, McCarthy, and Gee then took Sangathit to the health care unit where he was placed in a suicide/strip cell with no running water or working toilet. The cell had not been cleaned; there was food, feces, vomit, and blood on the floor and walls; and the lights remained on twenty-four hours a day. He asked again why he was being placed under investigation and on watch and he was told “because they can do it.” (Id. at 8.) After he submitted to a drug test and gave a urine sample, Resse, Kramer, McCarthy, and Gee held him down and ordered medical staff John Doe #1 to conduct a rectal cavity search against Sangathit's will. John Doe #1 complied and searched Sangathit's rectal cavity, following Menard medical director Dr. Siddiqui and Wexford's unwritten policy of following the orders of non-medical personnel regarding medical care and treatment of inmates. Sangathit announced several times that he did not consent to the search. Following the search, he had rectal bleeding and asked to be examined by a doctor but was denied. He was left handcuffed again for another two hours. John Doe #2 told Sangathit that he was supposed to uncuff Sangathit but was going to leave him cuffed so that he understood who is in charge.

         Sangathit was kept in the freezing cold suicide cell from Friday until Monday. During that time, he asked for the lights to be turned off so that he could sleep but was told that on Major Ratake and Emaldi's orders the lights were to be left on because of something that he had done to the warden. During this time, because there was not a working toilet in the cell, he was forced to urinate in a jar and defecate in a bucket, unable to wash his hands. He was denied clean clothes, toilet paper, soap, tooth brush, and other hygiene items. From being in the dirty cell, he developed a rash on his back, buttocks, and legs. He was given hydrocortisone cream to treat the rash, but when he tried to see a doctor and receive more cream, he was not called to sick call, leaving the rash untreated.

         On Monday, Sangathit was taken to have his lower body x-rayed, but the results showed there was no object hidden internally. He was written a ticket and placed under investigation. Sangathit was then sent to segregation where he was held in another dirty cell with a wet mattress that smelled of urine. He informed defendants about his cell conditions and asked for cleaning supplies and a different mattress but was denied.

         Sangathit claims that the unconstitutional treatment was done in retaliation for a grievance he wrote about Assistant Warden of Operations Jones who, without reason, had terminated his visitation rights. Sangathit also states that he later discovered that John Doe #3 claimed that he witnessed Sangathit putting something in his rectum.

         DISCUSSION

         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the court designates the following claims:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim against Resse, Kramer, McCarthy, Gee, and John Doe #2 for using excessive force in the process of forcing Sangathit to submit to an anal cavity search and keeping him handcuffed for long periods of time.
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim against Resse, Kramer, McCarthy, Gee, and John Doe #1 for cruel and unusual punishment by subjecting Sangathit to a strip search and rectal cavity search.
Count 3: Fourth Amendment claim against Resse, Kramer, McCarthy, Gee, and John Doe #1 for conducting an unreasonable rectal cavity search.
Count 4: Eighth Amendment claim against John Doe #2 for failing to intervene and protect Sangathit from excessive force and the rectal cavity search.
Count 5: Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against John Doe #2 for denying Sangathit medical treatment following the rectal cavity search.
Count 6: Eighth Amendment claim of unconstitutional conditions of confinement against Resse, Kramer, McCarthy, Gee, Ratake, Emaldi, and Lawrence for keeping Sangathit in the filthy cell in the health care unit with no running water or hygiene products and the lights on twenty-four hours a day for four days.
Count 7: First Amendment claim against Resse, Kramer, McCarthy, Gee, John Doe #2, John Doe #3, Ratake, and Emaldi for retaliating against Sangathit for filing a grievance against Assistant Warden Jones.
Count 8: Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference against Wexford staff for failing to treat Sangathit's rash.
Count 9: Eighth Amendment claim of cruel and unusual punishment against Wexford and Dr. Siddiqui for implementing an unwritten policy to follow the orders of non-medical staff regarding medical care.
Count 10: Intentional infliction of emotional distress claim in violation of Illinois state law against Resse, Gee, Kramer, McCarthy, Ratake, and Emaldi.
Count 11: Fourteenth Amendment due process claim against Lawrence, Jeffreys, and Wexford for the mishandling of Sangathit's grievance against Assistant Warden Jones and contributing to a culture where there are no consequences for the constitutional violations conducted by staff.
Count 12: Fourteenth Amendment due process claim against John Doe #4, Lawrence, and Jeffreys for the mishandling of and failure to investigate Sangathit's grievance against Assistant Warden Jones and the corrections officers who retaliated against him.
Count 13: First Amendment right to freedom of association and/or Fourteenth Amendment right to due process claim against Jones and Lawrence for denying Sangathit his visitation rights.
Count 14: Eighth Amendment claim of unconstitutional conditions of confinement against defendants for placing Sangathit in a filthy segregation cell with no cleaning supplies.
Count 15: Fourteenth Amendment claim for the issuance of a false disciplinary ticket.

         The parties shall 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 pleaded under Twombly.[2]

         Coun ...


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