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Williams v. Trice

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 26, 2014

BYRON C. WILLIAMS, No. B88932, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS TRICE, and C/O COMPTON, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Byron C. Williams, an inmate in Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on incidents that occurred at the St. Clair County Jail while Plaintiff was, presumably a pretrial detainee.[1]

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.

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). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that "no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit." Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). 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). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross "the line between possibility and plausibility. Id. at 557. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

The Complaint

According to the complaint, in November 2012, Captain Thomas Trice verbally abused Plaintiff and slapped the back of Plaintiff's head without penological justification, causing Plaintiff to hit his head on a rail. Plaintiff was in excruciating pain, but he remained silent. Trice then used a K-9 dog to threaten and intimidate Plaintiff, to the point Plaintiff began to cry and he urinated on himself. Plaintiff later noticed that during the course of events his face was scratched. Plaintiff describes subsequently asking for, but not receiving, medical care, but he does not identify to whom the request was made.

The complaint describes a second incident that occurred in April 2013. Plaintiff refused to sign acknowledging receipt of a disciplinary violation report issued by C/O Compton. Compton then handcuffed Plaintiff, punched him in the kidneys, slammed him to the ground and kicked Plaintiff twice in the head. Compton then placed a door key between his fingers and started punching Plaintiff in the stomach and ribs. C/O Compton then grabbed Plaintiff by the collar and pulled him up so the men were face-to-face. Compton stated that the assault was to be a lesson, and that Plaintiff was lucky that Compton had not taken him to the laundry room and beaten him bloody, "like the old days." Compton then kicked Plaintiff in the crotch, un-cuffed him, and left him lying on the cell floor.

Based on the allegations in the complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into two 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 counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit.

Count 1: In November 2012, Captain Thomas Trice used excessive force against Plaintiff in violation of ...

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