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Brough v. Contes

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 28, 2014

MAURICE BROUGH, # M-22735, Plaintiff,
JASON CONTES, Defendant.


STACI M. YANDLE, District Judge.

Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Hill Correctional Center ("Hill"), serving a one-year sentence for drug possession. He brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, over an incident that occurred in 2013 during his incarceration at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville") on a previous offense. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Contes, a Pinckneyville correctional officer, used excessive force against him and then refused to allow him to obtain medical care for his injuries.

More specifically, Plaintiff claims that on March 22, 2013, he was in line with other inmates on their way to lunch when Defendant Contes pulled him out of line (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 8). Defendant told Plaintiff that he was disobeying a direct order, and the two had words. Defendant placed Plaintiff in handcuffs and walked him to segregation. On the way there, Defendant tripped Plaintiff to the ground, "causing a scene." Id. One or more other officers came to assist. Plaintiff was picked up and continued to walk to segregation, accompanied by Defendant and another officer. When they arrived in a secluded area, Defendant Contes kneed Plaintiff in his left eye. Plaintiff was still in handcuffs at the time. Defendant did not allow Plaintiff to obtain any medical care at the time. Plaintiff claims to have medical records to show what his medical needs were as a result of Defendant's actions (Doc. 1, p. 4).

Plaintiff notes that he filed a grievance over the incident while he remained at Pinckneyville, but by the time he got the initial response, he had been released from prison. He was thus unable to further pursue exhaustion of his administrative remedies (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7, 9). After Plaintiff was re-incarcerated on his current offense, he filed another grievance on October 2, 2014, which he attaches to his complaint (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9).

Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages (Doc. 1, p. 5).

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

Under § 1915A, the Court is required to conduct a prompt threshold review of the complaint, and to dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from an immune defendant.

Accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, the Court finds that Plaintiff has articulated the following colorable federal causes of action, which shall receive further review:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Contes, for the excessive use of force on Plaintiff on March 22, 2013;

Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Contes, for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical needs resulting from the excessive force incident on March 22, 2013.

The intentional use of excessive force by prison guards against an inmate without penological justification constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment and is actionable under § 1983. See Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34 (2010); DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607, 619 (7th Cir. 2000). An inmate must show that an assault occurred, and that "it was carried out maliciously and sadistically' rather than as part of a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline.'" Wilkins, 559 U.S. at 40 (citing Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6 (1992)). An inmate seeking damages for the use of excessive force need not establish serious bodily injury to make a claim, but not "every malevolent touch by a prison guard gives rise to a federal cause of action." Wilkins, 559 U.S. at 37-38 (the question is whether force was de minimis, not whether the injury suffered was de minimis); see also Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837-38 (7th Cir. 2001).

Further, the Seventh Circuit has held that a guard who uses excessive force on a prisoner has "a duty of prompt attention to any medical need to which the beating might give rise[.]" Cooper v. Casey, 97 F.3d 914, 917 (7th Cir. 1996). Thus, Defendant Contes, who perpetrated the assault and then allegedly prevented Plaintiff from getting immediate medical attention for his injuries, may be found liable for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's need for medical care.

At the pleading stage, Plaintiff's allegations regarding both Count 1 and Count 2 ...

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