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Walker v. Baldwin

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 14, 2020

EDWARD WALKER, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN BALDWIN, WARDEN BROOKHART, J. WAGNER, FRANK LAWRENCE, LT. JOHN DOE #1, LT. JOHN DOE #2, LT. JOHN DOE #3, LT. JOHN DOE #4, and LT. JOHN DOE #5, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Edward Walker, Jr., an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights while he was at Menard and Lawrence Correctional Centers (“Lawrence”). In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges defendants violated his due process rights during a disciplinary hearing at Lawrence and subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement at both prisons. He asserts claims against the defendants under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment, 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. 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 the Complaint: On October 4, 2018, Plaintiff was transferred to Lawrence. He was asked on numerous occasions by J. Wagner and Warden Brookhart whether he was affiliated with a gang, and Plaintiff insisted that he was no longer affiliated (Doc. 1, pp. 4-7). He was informed by John Doe #1 that his phone and mail were being monitored for gang activity (Id. at p. 7). After receiving a phone call from a co-defendant about his attorney, Plaintiff was placed in administrative segregation. On March 1, 2019, he was issued a disciplinary ticket from Wagner for security threat group (“STG”) leadership and activity (Id. at p. 9). The investigation supporting the ticket included statements from confidential informants but did not include any activity that supported the finding that Plaintiff was a STG leader (Id. at pp. 11-15). Plaintiff believes that Wagner, Brookhart, John Doe #1, John Doe #5 (an intel officer at Menard), and John Doe #2 (another intel officer at Menard) were determined to label Plaintiff an STG leader once he transferred to Lawrence, despite lacking evidence of his involvement with a gang (Id. at pp. 11-15, 21).

         Plaintiff appeared before the adjustment committee led by John Doe #'s 3 and 4. John Doe #3 informed Plaintiff that they did not see any evidence of STG activity in the ticket but would have to discuss the ticket with internal affairs before making their determination (Doc. 1, p. 16). Plaintiff believes that the two hearing officers were not impartial because they based their ruling on internal affair's determination and not their own understanding of the rules and facts (Id. at p. 16). Plaintiff was found guilty of STG leadership and activity and received 1 year C-grade, 1 year segregation, 6 months contact visit restriction, and a disciplinary transfer (Id. at p. 17). He appealed the decision to Brookhart and Baldwin, but they concurred with the findings (Id. at pp. 18-19).

         Plaintiff was placed in segregation at Lawrence from February 4, 2019, to April 19, 2019, (Doc. 1, p. 20). While in segregation, his cell was filthy, he was not provided with cleaning supplies, and he had a lumpy mattress that was too short for his body (Id. at p. 20). Plaintiff wrote a grievance about the conditions. On April 19, 2019, Plaintiff transferred to North 2 segregation at Menard. His cell in segregation was too small to exercise (Id. at p. 23). His cell was covered in mold causing breathing issues, headaches, and a sore throat. The showers, sinks, and toilets constantly broke down, and there was rust throughout the cellhouse (Id.). There was no ventilation system, only fans which blew the mold, dust, rust, and animal and insect feces around the cellhouse (Id. at pp. 23-24). The food was not nutritionally adequate and was undercooked (Id. at p. 24). Plaintiff also was housed with mentally ill patients who were loud all day and night and banged on their doors and bars at all hours of the day (Id.). The drains in the showers stopped up on a number of occasions and would flood the shower, forcing Plaintiff to shower in water that had blood, feces, and urine in it. The mentally ill inmates also threw feces and blood and wiped bodily fluids on the walls of the cell. Plaintiff's cell was not cleaned prior to his transfer, and it was covered in bodily fluids. The cellhouse lacked heat and air making it hot in the summer and cold in the winter (Id. at p. 25). Plaintiff informed Lawrence and Baldwin about the conditions of the cell, but they ignored his complaints.

         Preliminary Dismissals

         Plaintiff alleges that he faced unconstitutional conditions of confinement while at Lawrence. Plaintiff fails, however, to associate this claim with any defendant. He fails to allege that he informed any defendant about the conditions of his cell at Lawrence. He allege that he wrote a grievance, but he does not indicate who received the grievance. Although he later lists Brookhart as a defendant for his claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, he fails to allege that he informed her of the conditions of his cell or that she was aware of the conditions. Thus, to the extent Plaintiff seeks to raise a conditions of confinement claim for his segregation cell at Lawrence, he fails to state a claim. His intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against Brookhart is also DISMISSED without prejudice for failure to state a claim.

         In the request for relief section of his Complaint, Plaintiff seeks a transfer to Dixon so that he is “not retaliated against again.” To the extent that he seeks to raise such a claim, he fails to state a claim. Plaintiff's Complaint fails to allege that he was engaged in any constitutionally protected speech that was a motivating factor for the issuance of the disciplinary ticket. Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 866 (7th Cir. 2012); DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607, 618 (7th Cir. 2000). Accordingly, his retaliation claim is also DISMISSED without prejudice.

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following three counts:

Count 1: Warden Brookhart, John Baldwin, J. Wagner, Lt. John Doe #1, Lt. John Doe #2, Lt. John Doe #3, Lt. John Doe #4, and Lt. John Doe #5 violated Plaintiff's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to provide him with an impartial decisionmaker and failing to base their decision on adequate evidence.
Count 2: John Baldwin and Frank Lawrence subjected Plaintiff to unconstitutional conditions of confinement in violation of the Eighth Amendment while Plaintiff was ...

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