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Bingham v. Woolsey

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 25, 2015

JASON BINGHAM, No. R-23138, Plaintiff,
v.
DERRICK WOOLSEY, JAMES LUTH, and ASSISTANT WARDEN MOSS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jason Bingham, an inmate in Vandalia Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, based on a December 22, 2014, incident Plaintiff characterizes as excessive force.[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

On December 22, 2014, Plaintiff Bingham was in the prison gym bench-pressing weights. C/O Woolsey announced that the gym was closing. Woolsey approached Plaintiff and pushed down on the weight bar Plaintiff was using, saying that he would let the weights "smash" Plaintiff's chest (Doc. 1, p. 4)-presumably unless Plaintiff stopped what he was doing. As explained in the complaint, "Plaintiff thought nothing of it but the next night the Plaintiff wrist pain woke the Plaintiff up out of his sleep" [sic] (Doc. 1, p. 4).

The complaint cites the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and specifies that Plaintiff is bringing suit against C/O Woolsey in his individual and official capacities, for "intentional infliction of emotional distress" (Doc. 1, p. 4). A claim is also asserted against Warden James Luth for failing to properly train C/O Woolsey, and being "deliberately indifferent" to Woolsey's conduct (Doc. 1, p. 4). Nominal, compensatory and punitive damages are sought.

Based on the allegations in the complaint, and in consideration of Plaintiff's pro se status, the Court liberally construes the complaint as asserting the following claims:

Count 1: C/O Woolsey used excessive force against Plaintiff, in violation of the Eighth Amendment;
Count 2: Warden James Luth was deliberately indifferent to a serious risk of harm, in violation of ...

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