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Thompson v. Walls

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

May 29, 2013

DENNIS THOMPSON, # B-67474, Plaintiff,


G. PATRICK MURPHY, District Judge.

Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), is serving a life sentence for murder. He has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has filed a First Amended Complaint (Doc. 11), which is now before the Court for preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

The Complaint

In the amended complaint, Plaintiff claims that he had a medical permit to be "double-cuffed"-that is, for guards to use two sets of handcuffs linked together to reduce the strain on Plaintiff's arms and shoulders when securing his hands behind his back. He was given this permit because he has shoulder and degenerative cervical spine arthritis, and is grossly obese (Doc. 11, p. 6). On June 3, 2012, Plaintiff and other inmates were out of their cells and lined up for lunch, when a disturbance took place in another area of the prison (Doc. 11, p. 6). After about 30 minutes, during which Plaintiff and the prisoners in his unit had followed orders to sit on the ground, they were told to cuff up (Doc. 11, p. 6). Plaintiff told Defendant Tourville, a correctional officer, that he had a medical double-cuff permit (Doc. 11, p. 6). Defendant Tourville, however, forced Plaintiff's arms behind his back into a single set of handcuffs, telling him "we're just taking you right back in the cell house" (Doc. 11, p. 6). Plaintiff observed other officers nearby with multiple sets of handcuffs which could have been used to comply with the medical permit (Doc. 11, p. 6). In fact, several other inmates had their double-cuff permits honored by officers at the same time that Plaintiff's was ignored (Doc. 11, p. 6). Plaintiff reasons that there was no excuse not to follow his permit, because the disturbance was over at the time Defendant Tourville cuffed him (Doc. 11, p. 6). This incident injured Plaintiff's neck and caused "excruciating" pain and limited mobility in his neck and shoulder (Doc. 11, p. 6).

Four days later, on June 7, 2012, Plaintiff was called to see Defendant Criss, a nurse practitioner at Menard (Doc. 11, p. 7). Plaintiff thought this was in response to his sick call request for his neck and shoulder injuries (Doc. 11, p. 7). Instead, Defendant Criss offered only follow-up treatment for an infected cyst (Doc. 11, p. 7). As a result, Plaintiff did not receive any medical attention for the new injuries for 12 days (Doc. 11, p. 7). Because of the handcuff injuries, Plaintiff's medical permit was later changed to direct staff to cuff his hands in front of his body (Doc. 11, p. 9).

The final incident occurred on December 28, 2012, when Plaintiff discarded some legal documents from his other pending suit in this district, which involves Menard staff (Case No. 12-cv-770-JPG-PMF) (Doc. 11, p. 8). Inmates do not have waste receptacles in their cells, so the usual procedure is for the inmates to place the items that they wish to dispose of in the bars of their cell to be picked up by workers on the next "garbage run" (Doc. 11, pp. 8, 9). Plaintiff rolled up the legal papers and inserted them into an empty tissue roll, which was also trash, and placed them in the bars of his cell (Doc. 11, p. 8). Later, when Plaintiff returned from lunch, he saw his three pages of his legal papers spread out on the sergeant's desk where they could be seen by staff and inmates (Doc. 11, p. 8). Plaintiff did not want information about his lawsuit publicly known (Doc. 11, p. 8). He confronted Defendant Tourville, who admitted that he picked up the papers (Doc. 11, p. 8). Plaintiff asked for his papers back, however, they were not returned, and Plaintiff saw the papers still on the desk several hours later (Doc. 11, p. 8). Plaintiff contends that Defendant Tourville took the legal papers and put them on display in retaliation for Plaintiff's grievance against him over the handcuff incident (Doc. 11, p. 8). He also claims Defendant Tourville's actions violated his Sixth Amendment "right to privileged legal material" (Doc. 11, p. 8).

Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint. Accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, the Court finds that Plaintiff has articulated the following colorable federal causes of action:

Count 1: Excessive force claim against Defendant Tourville for forcing Plaintiff into a single set of handcuffs;

Count 2: Deliberate indifference to medical needs claim against Defendant Tourville for disregarding Plaintiff's medical double-cuff permit;

Count 3: Deliberate indifference to medical needs claim against Defendant Criss for denying and delaying treatment of Plaintiff's injuries from the handcuff incident; and

Count 4: Retaliation claim against Defendant Tourville for taking and publicizing Plaintiff's legal documents.

However, Plaintiff's allegations against Defendant Tourville for a violation of the Sixth Amendment (Count 5) fails to state a constitutional claim upon which relief may be granted, and shall be dismissed. Likewise, Plaintiff's allegations against Defendants Godinez, Harrington, and Walls fail ...

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