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Williams v. Buchanon

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 7, 2020

TRAVIS T. WILLIAMS, #Y15910, Plaintiff,
v.
ZACHARIAH BUCHANON, C/O EKELBERRY, DEE DEE BROOKHART, AND RUSSELL GOINES, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

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

         Plaintiff Travis Williams, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), brings this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Federal Tort Claims Acts (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 2671-2680. Williams asserts claims against the defendants for using excessive force against him on February 27, 2019. He seeks money damages.

         The complaint is now before the court for preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A(a), the court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. Any portion of a complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on 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

         In the Complaint, Williams makes the following allegations (Dkt. 1): On or around February 27, 2019, Williams was handcuffed and escorted to the prison dietary unit by orange crush tactical team officers during a shakedown at Lawrence. When Williams complained that the handcuffs were cutting off circulation to his fingers, Sergeant Sean, Sergeant Ekelberry, and Lieutenant Buchanon responded with excessive force.

         The three officers grabbed Williams and threw him to the floor. They beat his shins with wooden sticks. Lieutenant Buchanon choked Williams, while Sergeant Ekelberry stuck his fingers down Williams' throat. They slammed his head into walls and caused him to lose consciousness. When Williams regained consciousness the first time, Lieutenant Buchanon accused him of assaulting the officer with his shoulder. Lieutenant Buchanon then punched Williams in the back of the head until he lost consciousness a second time. He was placed in a wheelchair and taken to segregation. Williams received a disciplinary ticket and found guilty of assault, dangerous disturbances, and disobeying a direct order. He was punished with 6 months of lost good conduct credit, 6 months of C-grade, 6 months of contact visitation restrictions, and 3 months of segregation. Williams brings claims against Lieutenant Buchanon, Sergeant Ekelberry, Security Warden Goines, and Chief Warden Brookhart for violations of his civil rights, retaliation, and destruction of property.

         PRELIMINARY DISMISSALS

         Williams identifies the following two individuals as defendants in the case caption but omits them from his statement of claim: Wardens Brookhart and Goines. A plaintiff cannot state a claim against a defendant simply by including the individual's name in the caption of the complaint. Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998). He also cannot state a § 1983 claim against a defendant simply because the individual serves in a supervisory capacity at the prison. The doctrine of respondeat superior (i.e., liability of supervisor) does not apply to § 1983 actions. Griffin v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 244 F.Supp.3d 787, 790 (N.D. Ill. 2016); Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018 (1978). Liability instead hinges on personal responsibility for the deprivation of a constitutional right. See Kinslow v. Pullara, 538 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2008), citing Monell v. N.Y. City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 6911978). The complaint sets forth no allegations against the wardens and states no plausible claim against them.

         In addition, Williams omits the following two individuals from his case caption but includes them in his statement of claim: Sergeants Sean and Reed. When parties are not listed in the caption, this court will not treat them as defendants. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a) (title of the complaint “must name all the parties”); Myles v. United States, 416 F.3d 551, 551-52 (7th Cir. 2005) (defendant must be “specif[ied] . . . in the caption”). All claims against Sergeants Sean and Reed are considered dismissed without prejudice. Id.

         DISCUSSION

         Based on the allegations, the court designates the following claims in this pro se action:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim against Buchanon and Ekelberry for using excessive force against Williams on or around February 27, 2019.
Count 2: First Amendment retaliation claim against Buchanon and Ekelberry.
Count 3: Fourteenth Amendment claim against Buchanon and Ekelberry for depriving Williams of his property without ...

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