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Russell v. Lashbrook

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 18, 2019



          Staci M. Yandle, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Santoin Russell, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights while at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). Plaintiff claims Defendants failed to protect him from an assault on the yard in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         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

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in his Complaint: On September 6, 2017, a physical altercation occurred on the West Yard at Menard between two gangs, the Vice Lords and the Gangster Disciples. (Doc. 1, p. 5). An argument between two gang members started in the commissary and escalated to a physical fight between thirty gang members when the members reached the yard. (Id. at p. 6). Plaintiff was escorted from his housing unit to the yard where the altercation took place. Plaintiff noticed that none of the inmates entering the yard were being patted down or searched for contraband. (Id.). Once on the yard, Plaintiff was threatened by two inmates. Plaintiff approached the fence and spoke with John and Jane Doe correctional officers about the threats. Plaintiff informed the officers that he was afraid for his life and wanted to leave the yard. (Id. at p. 7). The officers refused to remove Plaintiff from the yard and stated that he would be fine and to “go play with the gang members.” (Id.). Plaintiff was later attacked by three men, including the two who had threatened him when he first entered the yard. Plaintiff received a stab wound above his left eye, three cuts to his left forearm, and cuts on his upper and lower back. The inmates had metal homemade weapons that they used in the attack. Plaintiff believes the inmates were able to bring metal weapons on the yard because the metal detectors were previously removed from Menard and officers did not conduct pat-downs. (Id. at p. 8).

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

Count 1:Defendants failed to protect Plaintiff from an assault 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]


         Plaintiff states a viable claim against John and Jane Doe Correctional Officers for failure to protect him from the inmate assault as he alleges he told the officers about the threat made by the other inmates and asked to leave the yard, but they refused and instead encouraged him to “play” with the other gang members. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834, 837 (1994); Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749, 756 (7th Cir. 2010).

         Plaintiff also states a claim against Lashbrook as he alleges that as warden, she was deliberately indifferent to the safety of inmates when she removed the metal detectors and disregarded pat down searches. See Gentry v. Duckworth, 65 F.3d 555, 561 (7th Cir. 1995) (supervisor may be liable for actions of subordinates if he knew about the conduct and facilitates, approves, condones, or turns a blind eye to it); Farmer, 511 U.S. at 842. However, all official capacity claims against Lashbrook are DISMISSED without prejudice.[2] See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (state officials named in their official capacities may not be sued for monetary damages).

         John Doe Defendants

         Frank Lawrence, as the current warden of Menard, will be added to the docket (in his official capacity only) for the purpose of responding to discovery (informal or formal) aimed at identifying the unknown defendants. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 832 (7th Cir. 2009). Once the names of the unknown defendants are discovered, Plaintiff must file a motion to substitute the newly identified defendants in place of the generic designations in the case caption and throughout the Complaint.

         Motion ...

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