United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
WILLIS BAIRD, No. K81582, Plaintiff,
SHAWN OCHS, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.
Plaintiff Willis Baird is an inmate currently housed in Lawrence Correctional Center. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights with respect to an altercation he had with C/O Shawn Ochs.
This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Court is required to dismiss any portion of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
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).
According to the complaint, on November 15, 2014, Defendant C/O Ochs approached Plaintiff's cell to pass out lunch trays. When Ochs opened the slot in the door to distribute the trays, Plaintiff announced that he was declaring a hunger strike and, according to prison protocol, his cellmate's food tray could not be distributed until after Plaintiff was removed and placed in a single-man "hunger strike" cell. C/O Ochs reportedly became angry and "aggressively" and "quickly" handcuffed Plaintiff through the cell door. Plaintiff admittedly stood in front of the slot in the door in order to block Ochs from passing a food tray to his cellmate. Ochs then attempted to move Plaintiff away from the food slot by "striking" and/or "continuously pounding" Plaintiff's lower back. From Plaintiff's perspective, by interjecting food into the cell, Ochs was attempting to void Plaintiff's hunger strike under prison rules. Ochs eventually un-cuffed Plaintiff and left.
C/O Ochs returned to speak to Plaintiff and told Plaintiff that he, Ochs, could write Plaintiff a disciplinary report if so chose. Taking that as a threat, Plaintiff again did not request medical care. Plaintiff was aware that C/O Ochs had a grudge against him for having filed a lawsuit against his uncle, Lt. James Ochs ( see Baird v. Knop, Case No. 13-cv-979-NJR (S.D. Ill. 2013) (still pending)).
Because Plaintiff has severe degenerative disc disease, Och's strikes caused Plaintiff "excruciating pain." According to Plaintiff, he was "yelling in pain" as Ochs struck him. He wanted to ask for medical care, but was afraid Ochs would then retaliate by issuing him a disciplinary report-something other correctional officers have done to Plaintiff. Yet, Plaintiff questions why Ochs did not get him medical care. Plaintiff waited approximately a month before reporting his injuries to his physical therapist.
Based on the allegations in the complaint and Plaintiff's own delineation of claims, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following counts. Any other claims intended by Plaintiff should be considered dismissed without prejudice, as having been inadequately pleaded under the Twombly pleading standard.
Count 1: C/O Ochs used excessive force against Plaintiff, in violation of the Eighth Amendment;
Count 2: C/O Ochs was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment; and
Count 3: C/O Ochs threatened Plaintiff with discipline, in violation of the First Amendment.
The complaint contains no prayer ...