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Watters v. Mathy

June 24, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge


This cause is before the court for merit review of the plaintiff's amended complaint. The court ordered the plaintiff to file an amended complaint after reviewing the initial complaint filed in this case. The plaintiff's complaint named 17 defendants, but did not adequately put the defendants on notice of the claims against them. For instance, some allegations did not state what defendants were responsible, some did not include a general time frame and some did not include basic information. See May 4, 2009 Court Order. In addition, the plaintiff was advised that he must not file unrelated claims against unrelated defendants in the same lawsuit. The court provided the plaintiff with some general guidance and ordered the plaintiff to file a amended complaint within 21 days of the order. The plaintiff has complied and his motion to file an amended complaint is granted. [d/e 11]

The court is required by 28 U.S.C. §1915A to "screen" the plaintiff's amended complaint, and through such process to identify and dismiss any legally insufficient claim, or the entire action if warranted. A claim is legally insufficient if it "(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. §1915A.

The plaintiff's amended complaint is filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 claiming that his constitutional rights were violated at the Pontiac Correctional Center. The plaintiff has named seven defendants including Lieutenant Larry Deathridge; Correctional Officers Jason Allen, Richard Allen, Eyler, Gregory Tangaman, K. Robinson, Trainor and Olson. The plaintiff is suing the defendants in their individual capacity.

The court notes that the plaintiff is no longer suing Defendants Mathy, Quinley, Prentice, Baum, Kochel, Vella, McCormick, Turner and Forbus named among the 17 defendants in the original complaint. Since the amended complaint supercedes the original complaint, the clerk of the court will be directed to dismiss these defendants and add the one new defendant, Correctional Officer Eyler.

The plaintiff alleges the defendants violated the plaintiffs Eighth Amendment rights when they repeatedly used excessive force against him. The plaintiff states that on September 16, 2008, he was taken to a holding cell in the health care unit to wait for a doctor's appointment. However Defendants J. Allen, Eyler, Olson and R. Allen took the plaintiff from the cell and took him to a secluded area where Defendant J. Allen punched the plaintiff in the head causing injuries. Defendant R. Allen then pulled the plaintiff's arms up while pushing his elbow into the plaintiff's spine causing injuries.

The plaintiff says he was taken back to his cell without receiving any medical treatment, so he flooded his cell to get attention. The plaintiff says Defendant Trainor then came to his cell and ordered the plaintiff to cuff up. The plaintiff says he was left handcuffed in his cell for thirty minutes and "[t]his was done to inflict pain and suffering." (Comp, p. 4).

The plaintiff says Defendants J. Allen, Olson, R. Allen, Robinson and Tangaman then inflicted additional pain when they dragged the plaintiff down a staircase injuring his wrist and fingers. The plaintiff says the defendants also threw him down on a concrete floor causing him to hit his head. The plaintiff says Defendant Deathridge saw the conduct of the defendants, but took no action.

The plaintiff says Defendants Tangaman and Robinson returned the plaintiff to his cell and bent the plaintiff's fingers and wrist back "causing the plaintiff pain and suffering..." (Comp., p. 5).

The plaintiff has also attached a few exhibits to his complaint. The first is an Adjustment Committee Report showing the plaintiff was charged with assaulting a staff member; damage or misuse of property; health, smoking or safety violations and disobeying a direct order on this same day: September 16, 2008. The report states that officers gave the plaintiff a direct order to stop being disruptive in the holding cell in the health care unit. When he refused, he was taken back to his cell and he then flooded his cell. As he was being escorted out of his cell, the officers say the plaintiff became aggressive and pinned one officer's hand against the door frame and attempted to bite another.

The plaintiff admitted to the committee that he flooded his cell, but denied all other allegations. The committee found the plaintiff guilty of all claims and revoked one year of good time credits as a result.

The plaintiff has also attached a copy of a grievance he filed on December 4, 2008. The six page grievance outlines all of the claims in the plaintiff's complaint. On December 11, 2008, the Grievance Counselor responded that a copy of the grievance would be sent to Internal Affairs for investigation into the plaintiff's claims that he was injured by staff.

On January 14, 2009, the Grievance Officer denied the plaintiff's grievance. The grievance officer said the plaintiff's grievance was well beyond the time frame allowed to file a grievance. Nonetheless, the grievance officer investigated the claims and noted that the plaintiff was the aggressor and was disciplined as a result. In addition, the plaintiff was "looked at by CMT Cation and required no medical attention." (Comp, Grievance response). The Warden agreed with the denial of the plaintiff's grievance on January 19, 2009.

At the bottom of the grievance form, it clearly states that any appeal to the Administrative Review Board "must be submitted 30 days after the date of the Chief Administrative Officer's decision..." (Comp, Grievance response). Nonetheless, the plaintiff signed the document requesting an appeal on March 23, 2009, more than one month after that deadline. Consequently, the Administrative Review Board ...

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