Gills v. Watson et al

Filing 7

MERIT REVIEW OPINION entered by Judge Sue E. Myerscough on 4/11/2018. Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court finds that the Plaintiff states a plausible Eighth Amendment claim arising from the alleged c ross-flushing toilets at Western Illinois Correctional Center. This case is now in the process of service. Plaintiff's motions for the Court to appoint counsel are denied, d/e's 4 and 5 . HIPAA Order to enter. (SEE WRITTEN OPINION) (MAS, ilcd)

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E-FILED Wednesday, 11 April, 2018 03:54:38 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS JARYAN GILLS, Plaintiff, v. WARDEN WATSON and J. ROBINSON, Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) 18-CV-3047 MERIT REVIEW OPINION SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, U.S. District Judge. Plaintiff proceeds pro se from his incarceration in Danville Correctional Center. His Complaint is before the Court for a merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This section requires the Court to identify cognizable claims stated by the Complaint or dismiss claims that are not cognizable.1 In reviewing the complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true, liberally construing them in Plaintiff's favor and taking Plaintiff’s pro se status into account. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir.                                                              1  A prisoner  who has had three prior actions dismissed for failure to state a claim or as frivolous or malicious can  no longer proceed in forma pauperis unless the prisoner is under “imminent danger of serious physical injury.”  28  U.S.C. § 1915(g).  Page 1 of 7    2013). However, conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be provided to "'state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Alexander v. U.S., 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(quoted cite omitted). Plaintiff alleges that, during his incarceration in Western Illinois Correctional Center, he was subjected to faulty plumbing. In particular, when an inmate in an adjoining cell flushed the toilet in the adjoining cell, the contents in that toilet would travel into Plaintiff’s toilet. Defendants allegedly conceded that this “cross flushing” can occur due to faulty plumbing but apparently disputed the extent of the problem, which Plaintiff alleges was a daily occurrence. On these allegations, the Court cannot rule out a plausible Eighth Amendment claim for inhumane conditions. The case will proceed for service. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED: 1) Pursuant to its merit review of the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court finds that Plaintiff states a plausible Eighth Amendment claim arising from the alleged cross-flushing toilets at Western Illinois Correctional Center. This case proceeds Page 2 of 7    solely on the claims identified in this paragraph. Any additional claims shall not be included in the case, except at the Court’s discretion on motion by a party for good cause shown or pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15. 2) This case is now in the process of service. Plaintiff is advised to wait until counsel has appeared for Defendants before filing any motions, in order to give Defendants notice and an opportunity to respond to those motions. Motions filed before Defendants' counsel has filed an appearance will generally be denied as premature. Plaintiff need not submit any evidence to the Court at this time, unless otherwise directed by the Court. 3) The Court will attempt service on Defendants by mailing each Defendant a waiver of service. Defendants have 60 days from the date the waiver is sent to file an Answer. If Defendants have not filed Answers or appeared through counsel within 90 days of the entry of this order, Plaintiff may file a motion requesting the status of service. After Defendants have been served, the Court will enter an order setting discovery and dispositive motion deadlines. 4) With respect to a Defendant who no longer works at the address provided by Plaintiff, the entity for whom that Defendant Page 3 of 7    worked while at that address shall provide to the Clerk said Defendant's current work address, or, if not known, said Defendant's forwarding address. This information shall be used only for effectuating service. Documentation of forwarding addresses shall be retained only by the Clerk and shall not be maintained in the public docket nor disclosed by the Clerk. 5) Defendants shall file an answer within 60 days of the date the waiver is sent by the Clerk. A motion to dismiss is not an answer. The answer should include all defenses appropriate under the Federal Rules. The answer and subsequent pleadings shall be to the issues and claims stated in this Opinion. In general, an answer sets forth Defendants' positions. The Court does not rule on the merits of those positions unless and until a motion is filed by Defendants. Therefore, no response to the answer is necessary or will be considered. 6) This District uses electronic filing, which means that, after Defense counsel has filed an appearance, Defense counsel will automatically receive electronic notice of any motion or other paper filed by Plaintiff with the Clerk. Plaintiff does not need to mail to Defense counsel copies of motions and other papers that Plaintiff Page 4 of 7    has filed with the Clerk. However, this does not apply to discovery requests and responses. Discovery requests and responses are not filed with the Clerk. Plaintiff must mail his discovery requests and responses directly to Defendants' counsel. Discovery requests or responses sent to the Clerk will be returned unfiled, unless they are attached to and the subject of a motion to compel. Discovery does not begin until Defense counsel has filed an appearance and the Court has entered a scheduling order, which will explain the discovery process in more detail. 7) Counsel for Defendants is hereby granted leave to depose Plaintiff at his place of confinement. Counsel for Defendants shall arrange the time for the deposition. 8) Plaintiff shall immediately notify the Court, in writing, of any change in his mailing address and telephone number. Plaintiff's failure to notify the Court of a change in mailing address or phone number will result in dismissal of this lawsuit, with prejudice. 9) If a Defendants fails to sign and return a waiver of service to the clerk within 30 days after the waiver is sent, the Court will take appropriate steps to effect formal service through the U.S. Page 5 of 7    Marshal's service on that Defendant and will require that Defendant to pay the full costs of formal service pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(2). 10) Within 10 days of receiving from Defendants' counsel an authorization to release medical records, Plaintiff is directed to sign and return the authorization to Defendants' counsel. 11) Plaintiff’s motions for the Court to appoint counsel are denied (d/e’s 4, 5). The Court cannot order an attorney to accept pro bono appointment on a civil case such as this. Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 653 (7th Cir. 2007). Plaintiff has made reasonable efforts to find counsel, so the question is “whether the difficulty of the case—factually and legally—exceeds the particular plaintiff's capacity as a layperson to coherently present it to the judge or jury himself.” Pruitt, 503 F.3d at 655 (7th Cir. 2007). On this record, Plaintiff appears competent to proceed pro se. His pleadings adequately convey the factual basis for his claims; he has litigation experience; and, he has personal knowledge of the crossflushing problem. Plaintiff may renew his motion on a more developed factual record, setting forth his educational level, any jobs he has had inside or outside of prison, any classes he has Page 6 of 7    taken in prison, and his litigation experience in state and federal court. 12) The clerk is directed to enter the standard order granting Plaintiff's in forma pauperis petition and assessing an initial partial filing fee, if not already done, and to attempt service on Defendants pursuant to the standard procedures. 13) The Clerk is directed to enter the standard qualified protective order pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. ENTERED: April 11, 2018 FOR THE COURT: s/Sue E. Myerscough SUE E. MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE Page 7 of 7   

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