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Cooper v. Rakers

March 19, 2010

JEREMY I. COOPER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THOMAS A. RAKERS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Murphy, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff, an inmate at the Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks relief for alleged violations of his Eighth Amendment and Due Process rights. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint 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, 590 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts "should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Service, 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

THE COMPLAINT

Plaintiff alleges that on January 8, 2009, he was attacked by another inmate whose handcuffs had not been properly removed by Defendant Rakers. As a result, the inmate was able to use the handcuff as a weapon in the attack on Plaintiff inflicting serious injury upon him. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Rakers's failure to properly remove the restraints from the other inmate created a pervasive risk of danger to which Rakers was deliberately indifferent. Therefore, Plaintiff contends that Defendant Rakers violated Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth Amendment.

In connection with this alleged attack, Plaintiff was issued a disciplinary report for fighting. Although Plaintiff contends that he was acting only in self-defense, he was found guilty of the disciplinary report. As a disciplinary sanction, Plaintiff was placed on "C-grade" for three months; he also was placed on segregation for three months; and he was placed on three months commissary restrictions. Plaintiff claims that he was denied Due Process of law in connection with this disciplinary action.

DISCUSSION

A. Eighth Amendment

The Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment is applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. As the Supreme Court has noted,the amendment reaches beyond barbarous physical punishment to prohibit the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain and punishment grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime. Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 346 (1981), citing Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976). The ...


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