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Washington v. Wilson

February 11, 2010

JEMARCUS WASHINGTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RODNEY WILSON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Jemarcus Washington, an inmate in the St. Clair County Jail at the time of the alleged events, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the amended complaint (Doc. 4) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Washington states that in June 2009, he was held in the St. Clair County Jail. On June 25, he was woken by barking dogs, and officers directed detainees to come out of the cell block. An unidentified officer placed Washington into handcuffs; Defendant Rodney Wilson then assaulted Washington with kicks before slamming his head into a brick wall. Washington alleges that Defendants Clayton, Tripplet, Blackburn, Scott, Tim, and Wright all witnessed this assault, yet none of them took measures to intervene. Blackburn then took Washington to the medical office, where another officer took photos of his injuries. Washington was given two shots, and he complained to Defendants Page and Rodriguez about vision problems and pain. Washington was then returned to a cell, where he overheard Wilson boasting of his assault on Washington. Washington wrote complaint forms addressed to Defendants Scott and McLaurin about this situation, including his need for medical treatment; he alleges that he was not provided with adequate pain medication or medical attention for his injuries.

Following his recitation of these facts, Washington presents three enumerated counts as basis for relief, as discussed below.

COUNT 1

Washington's first claim is solely against Wilson for use of excessive force. The intentional use of excessive force by prison guards against an inmate without penological justification constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment and is actionable under Section 1983. Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6-7 (1992); DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607, 619 (7th Cir. 2000). "[W]henever prison officials stand accused of using excessive physical force in violation of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, the core judicial inquiry is... whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm." Hudson, 503 U.S. at 6-7. An inmate seeking damages for the use of excessive force need not establish serious bodily injury to make a claim, but not "every malevolent touch by a prison guard gives rise to a federal cause of action.... [the] prohibition of 'cruel and unusual' punishment necessarily excludes from constitutional recognition de minimis uses of physical force, provided that the use of force is not of a sort 'repugnant to the conscience of mankind.'" Id. at 9-10; see also Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837-38 (7th Cir. 2001).

Applying these standards to the allegations against Wilson, the Court is unable to dismiss this ...


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