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Hodge v. Bukowski

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 29, 2013

RODERIC T. HODGE, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
TIMOTHY F. BUKOWSKI, et al., Defendants.

MERIT REVIEW OPINION

MICHAEL M. MIHM, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court for a merit review, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, of Plaintiff Roderic T. Hodge's claims.

I.

MERIT REVIEW UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 1915(A)

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A, the Court is required to carefully screen a complaint filed by a plaintiff who seeks to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court must dismiss a complaint, or a portion thereof, if the plaintiff has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious, " that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. The test for determining if an action is frivolous or without merit is whether the plaintiff can make a rational argument on the law or facts in support of the claim. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A complaint fails to state a claim for relief if the complaint does not allege "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); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009).

In reviewing the complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true and liberally construes them in plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, ___ F.3d ___, 2013 WL 3336713, * 2 (7th Cir. July 3, 2013). Conclusory statements and labels are insufficient. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8; Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012)(holding that, in order to determine if a complaint states a plausible claim, the court must take non-conclusory, non-speculative facts as true, draw all reasonable inferences in the pleader's favor, and isolate and ignore statements that simply rehash claim elements or offer only legal labels and conclusions). Instead, sufficient facts must be provided to "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Alexander v. United States, 721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(internal quotation omitted).

II.

ANALYSIS

In June 2011, Hodge was a pre-trial detainee at the Jerome Combs Detention Center in Kankakee, Illinois. Hodge has since been transferred to another Illinois Department of Correction facility. Hodge claims that, while at the Jerome Combs Detention Center, certain Defendants violated his constitutional rights.

Specifically, Hodge alleges three causes of action: excessive force; deliberate indifference to a serious medical need; and unconstitutional conditions of confinement. As for his excessive force claim, Hodge contends that Deputy Bayston, Sergeant Woods, Officer Martin, and Officer Senesac used a taser on him while he was standing in water. Hodge claims that Defendants' actions were taken without any penological interest, that he was not resisting or disobeying any order, and that Defendants' actions caused him physical injuries.

Hodge also claims that, on the next day, Defendant Kolitwenzew directed him to re-take his booking photograph. When Hodge refused, Defendants Kolitwenzew, Officer Juergens, and Officer Hatch physically forced him to take another photograph. Hodge alleges that the force exerted against him by these Defendants was unnecessary and that it caused him injury. Later that same day, Hodge avers that Defendant Officer Gomez kicked him in the head without any justification.

Hodge further alleges that he asked each of these Defendants (except for Defendants Gomez) for medical assistance for the injuries that he sustained as a result of their attacks upon him. However, none of the Defendants provided or obtained any medical assistance for him.

Hodge's third cause of action in his Complaint is that the conditions at the Jerome Combs Detention Center were so atrocious that they violated his constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

The Seventh Circuit has explained that the "Fourteenth Amendment right to due process affords pretrial detainees at least as much, and probably more, protection against punishment as does the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment." Carr v. Beth, 2012 WL 719695, * 2 (7th Cir. Mar. 7, 2012)(citing cases). "When jailers are accused of using excessive force, the core inquiry is whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.'" Id. (quoting Hudson v. McMilllian, 503 U.S. 1, 7 (1992)). "Several factors are relevant to this determination, including the need for force, the ...


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