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McCloud v. Griffith

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

December 1, 2014

PETER MCCLOUD, Plaintiff,
v.
PAUL GRIFFITH and LT. PRENTICE, Defendants

Peter McCloud, Plaintiff, Pro se, Pontiac, IL.

MERIT REVIEW OPINION

JAMES E. SHADID, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This cause is before the Court for a merit review, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, of Plaintiff Peter McCloud'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, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (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, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).

In reviewing the complaint, the Court accepts the factual allegations as true and liberally construes them in plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 651 (7th Cir. 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

Plaintiff Peter McCloud has filed the instant case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging two claims. As for his first claim, McCloud alleges that Defendant Paul Griffith used excessive force against him when Griffith removed him from the yard at the Pontiac Correctional Center after another inmate threw urine on him. Specifically, McCloud alleges that Griffith repeatedly punched him in the mouth and slammed his face onto the floor without provocation. McCloud claims that he needed medical attention as a result of Griffith's attack on him.

In order to state a claim for excessive force, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the force used against him by a state actor in an excessive force claim was not applied in a good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline but was applied maliciously and sadistically to cause harm. Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 37, 130 S.Ct. 1175, 175 L.Ed.2d 995 (2010)(quoting Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 7, 112 S.Ct. 995, 117 L.Ed.2d 156 (1992)). McCloud has alleged that Griffith repeatedly struck him and caused him injury and that Griffith's actions were not applied in good faith and done without provocation. Accordingly, McCloud has stated an excessive force claim against Griffith.

As for his second claim, McCloud alleges that, after Griffith assaulted him, Defendant Lt. Prentice made him remove all of his clothing and that Lt. Prentice placed him into a cell without running water, without a blanket, and without a mattress for seventy-two hours. Lt. Prentice also kept the lights on in the cell during McCloud's entire seventy-two hour confinement there.

The United States Supreme Court has made clear that " [t]he Eighth Amendment does not outlaw cruel and unusual 'conditions; ' it outlaws cruel and unusual 'punishments.'" Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994). This means that " an official's failure to alleviate a significant risk that he should have perceived but did not, while no cause for commendation, cannot . . . be condemned as an infliction of punishment." Id. at 838. Accordingly, " a prison official cannot be found liable under the Eighth Amendment for denying an inmate humane conditions of confinement unless the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of the facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." Id. at 837.

This type of deliberate indifference " implies at a minimum actual knowledge of impending harm easily preventable, so that a conscious, culpable refusal to prevent the harm can be inferred from the defendant's failure to prevent it." Duckworth v. Franzen, 780 F.2d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 1985). " [M]ere negligence or even gross negligence does not constitute deliberate indifference, " Snipes v. DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 590 (7th Cir. 1996), and it is not enough to show that a prison official merely failed to act reasonably. ...


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