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Timmie Martin, #N-51443 v. David A. Rednour

August 30, 2011

TIMMIE MARTIN, #N-51443, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAVID A. REDNOUR, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Timmie Martin, an inmate in Menard Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is serving a seven year sentence for a drug offense, and another six year sentence for aggravated battery of a peace officer. 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, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Conversely, 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. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

Upon careful review of the complaint and supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A; portions of this action are subject to summary dismissal.

The Complaint

Plaintiff's hand-written complaint, parts of which are very difficult to decipher, outlines three separate incidents where excessive force was used against Plaintiff by different correctional officers. In addition, Plaintiff claims that a false disciplinary charge was filed on him, and describes an assault on him by his cellmate.

The first excessive force incident, which occurred on July 7, 2010, began when Defendant Morris cuffed Plaintiff's hands behind his back and removed him from his cell. Soon after this, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Bedinger grabbed him and "started to [illegible] me into the door of the holding cage Hard!" (Doc. 1-1, p. 4). When Plaintiff asked where Defendant Bedinger was taking him, he answered, "Shut the fuck up nigger your black nigger ass is going to seg!" (Doc. 1-1, p. 4). As Defendant Bedinger walked Plaintiff down the hall, he pulled and twisted Plaintiff's arms up toward Plaintiff's head, inflicting pain on Plaintiff and making it difficult for him to walk. As a result of this incident, Plaintiff's shoulder was injured to the extent that the Health Care Unit issued him a year-long permit allowing him to be handcuffed in the front.

The false disciplinary charge also arose near the time of the July 7, 2010, incident. Plaintiff claims that Defendants Morris, Brown, and Bedinger falsely accused Plaintiff of some unspecified infraction, and that he served ninety days in segregation as a result (Doc. 1-1, p. 4). He was released from segregation on October 7, 2010.

On November 3, 2010, Plaintiff was placed back in West Cell House, in cell number 112. Plaintiff's new cellmate, Inmate Stamper, was a "G.D."gang member (Doc. 1-1, p. 4). Plaintiff describes himself as a retired ex-member of the Traveling Vice Lords. Stamper "started to make trouble" with Plaintiff, telling Plaintiff it was his cell, he did not want Plaintiff there, and Plaintiff had to get out (Doc. 1-1, p.4). Plaintiff immediately reported this to Defendant Morris. Defendant Morris told Plaintiff he would try to have either Plaintiff or the cellmate moved to a different cell. On a Wednesday, Defendant Morris told Plaintiff that the move should happen the next day, but that Defendant Morris would not be there on that day.

On the following day, December 2, 2010, Plaintiff was asleep in the top bunk when Inmate Stamper struck him in the face and nose, and pulled him out of the bunk onto the cell floor. Defendant Flatt was nearby and Plaintiff called to him for help. Defendant Flatt told Plaintiff he would get a supervisor, but when Inmate Stamper started walking toward Plaintiff, Defendant Flatt opened the cell door and pulled Plaintiff out onto the gallery. No other correctional officers were yet on the scene. Defendant Flatt cuffed Plaintiff's left wrist, and Plaintiff told Defendant Flatt he could not be cuffed behind his back. Plaintiff, apparently now on his feet, pulled his front-cuff permit from his pocket and showed it to Defendant Flatt, but Defendant Flatt told Plaintiff he was going to be cuffed behind his back.

At this point, the second episode of alleged excessive force ensued. Defendant Flatt pulled Plaintiff over backwards to the gallery floor. Plaintiff "went down hard" and Defendant Flatt put all his weight on Plaintiff, with his leg on Plaintiff's neck, attempting to cuff Plaintiff's hands behind his back (Doc. 1-1, p. 6). Plaintiff again told Defendant Flatt that he could not cuff up backward because of his shoulder injury. Next, Defendant McDaniel arrived and helped Defendant Flatt to cuff Plaintiff behind his back, both allegedly using excessive force. Plaintiff continued to protest, telling both Defendants they were hurting him and he had a front cuff permit. Defendants McDaniel and Flatt then lifted Plaintiff to his feet and took him to the front of the cell house.

Defendant Hoffman came on the scene, and Defendant McDaniel reported to him that Plaintiff had assaulted Defendant Flatt. Officer New (who is not named as a defendant) brought Plaintiff's phone booklet to him, and removed Plaintiff's front cuff permit from it at Plaintiff's request. Defendant Hoffman read the permit, but refused to change Plaintiff's handcuffs to the front, and instead "dragged" Plaintiff to the Health Care Unit (HCU) (Doc. 1-1, p. 6). The doctor directed Defendant Hoffman to take Plaintiff to the second floor for x-rays. During the x-rays, Plaintiff's cuffs were removed.

Plaintiff was put back in segregation. He does not state whether this was a result of another disciplinary charge or for his own protection. On December 14, 2010, he was again assaulted by correctional officers. A correctional officer (Plaintiff does not state which one) placed handcuffs on Plaintiff's right wrist and tried to make Plaintiff cuff up behind his back. Plaintiff gave the officers his front cuff permit, but they threw the permit on the floor and ignored it. Defendant Chatman, with his foot braced on the cell door, then pulled hard on the cuffs attached to Plaintiff's right wrist, apparently while Plaintiff's hand was extended through the cell chuckhole. As a result, Plaintiff was in so much pain that he pulled his arm back inside the chuckhole, breaking the handcuffs, and causing Defendant Chatman to fall backwards onto the floor. Defendant Best was present during this entire episode, and sprayed Plaintiff in the face with some substance after the handcuffs broke.

Plaintiff claims his wrist was broken as a result of the excessive force applied by Defendant Chatman, and states he was in pain for at least four days as of the date he drafted his complaint. In addition, Plaintiff had not been seen by a doctor or nurse despite writing an emergency sick call request.

Plaintiff names a number of other Defendants in addition to those discussed above, but does not indicate how or if they were involved in any of the incidents giving rise to his claims.

Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages for his physical injuries and mental distress.

Discussion

Based on the allegations of the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into four (4) counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these ...


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