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Gray v. Hamilton

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 12, 2015

TERRY GRAY, #N-74628, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER HAMILTON, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

Plaintiff Terry Gray, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Graham Correctional Center ("Graham"), brings this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1) for violations of his Eighth Amendment rights at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"). Plaintiff claims that Officer Hamilton, a Pinckneyville official, responded to his repeated requests for hot water in his cell with excessive force (Doc. 1, p. 6). As a result, Plaintiff sustained a shoulder injury that required surgery and now interferes with his dialysis shunt. Plaintiff seeks monetary relief (Doc. 1, p. 7).

This case is before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to promptly screen prisoner complaints to filter out nonmeritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). 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). After carefully considering the allegations, the Court finds that Plaintiff's complaint survives preliminary review under this standard.

The Complaint

While Plaintiff was housed in Cell 68 at Pinckneyville in October 2011, the hot water in his cell stopped working. He informed Officer Hamilton about the problem and explained that his multiple requests to restore access to it had been ignored. As Plaintiff spoke, he stuck his arm out of the cell's chuckhole in a nonthreatening manner.

In response, Officer Hamilton grabbed Plaintiff's arm with both hands. He put his foot against the door and "pulled and twisted [Plaintiff's] arm, " until he tore the tissue in Plaintiff's shoulder. Plaintiff screamed in pain. Hearing him, several other inmates yelled at Officer Hamilton until he let go. Plaintiff was unable to use his arm for "quite some time" (Doc. 1, p. 6).

After Plaintiff transferred to Graham, he received an ultrasound on his arm as part of his dialysis treatment. During the procedure, the medical technician observed the injury to Plaintiff's shoulder and told him that it was "messed up" for reasons unrelated to the dialysis. Plaintiff's doctor agreed that the injury was serious and required surgical repair. Plaintiff underwent surgery in September of 2013 and now claims that the injury complicates his dialysis treatments. Plaintiff sues Officer Hamilton for monetary damages (Doc. 1, p. 7).

Discussion

The complaint invokes no constitutional or statutory basis for relief. The Court will therefore divide the complaint into three claims for purposes of this discussion. All three claims arise under the Eighth Amendment, as follows:

Count 1: Defendant Hamilton subjected Plaintiff to unconstitutional conditions of confinement by denying him access to hot water in his cell in October 2011, in violation of the Eighth Amendment;
Count 2: Defendant Hamilton responded to Plaintiff's request for hot water with excessive force, in violation of the Eighth Amendment; and
Count 3: Defendant Hamilton exhibited deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

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 claims should not be construed as an opinion regarding their merit.

As discussed in more detail below, Plaintiff shall be allowed to proceed with Counts 2 and 3. However, Count 1 shall be dismissed without prejudice for failure to ...


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