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Buchanan v. Frank

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 15, 2015

FREDERICK BUCHANAN, #R-60531, Plaintiff,



This matter comes before the Court for consideration of Plaintiff Frederick Buchanan's amended complaint[1](Doc. 8). Plaintiff, an inmate at Menard Correctional Center ("Menard"), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 8) against three officials at Pinckneyville Correctional Center ("Pinckneyville"). He claims that these officials used excessive force against him on July 30, 2014, and transferred him to Menard following an unfair disciplinary hearing on false disciplinary charges on July 31, 2014 (Doc. 8, p. 3). Plaintiff now sues Defendants Mac-Shane Frank (lieutenant), Jeffrey Hoch (adjustment committee chairperson), and Carol McBride (adjustment committee member) for violating his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights at Pinckneyville. He seeks monetary damages (Doc. 8-2, pp. 2-3).

Amended Complaint

On July 30, 2014, Officer Hastings, [2]a Pinckneyville correctional officer, informed Plaintiff that he would soon be sent to segregation (Doc. 8, p. 3). At the time, Plaintiff was housed in Pinckneyville's general population. He was given no reason for the decision.

Within minutes, Defendant Frank, a Pinckneyville lieutenant, appeared at Plaintiff's cell and told him to pack his property in preparation for the move (Doc. 8, pp. 3-4). Plaintiff was aware of a "vile and notorious history" of assaults targeting black and Latino inmates[3]at Pinckneyville, so he requested an escort to segregation by the "orange crush" tactical team "for safety and security reasons" ( Id. ). Defendant Frank denied Plaintiff's request and ordered him to "[e]ither cuff up now or get sprayed" (Doc. 8, p. 4). Plaintiff complied with the order.

Even so, Defendant Frank sprayed Plaintiff in the face with pepper spray. As Plaintiff stumbled backward in search of the sink, Defendant Frank and Officer Hastings prevented him from rinsing his face by slamming him onto the bottom bunk. The officers then cuffed Plaintiff so tightly that he lost circulation in his hands. In a "controlled state of rage, " Defendant Frank proceeded to beat Plaintiff while he was handcuffed, pounding his body and throwing him against the walls and cell fixtures (Doc. 8, pp. 4, 6).

After removing Plaintiff from the cell, Defendant Frank, Officer Hastings, and several unknown officers led Plaintiff toward Pinckneyville's health care unit. As they did so, the officers used a "tactical arm-wrenching maneuver" that forced Plaintiff's cuffed arms upward and his head downward, causing extreme pain in his arms, back, and neck. The officers also threw Plaintiff against walls, dragged him down stairs, and slammed his face into three doors before exiting Housing Unit 3 (Doc. 8, p. 7). Plaintiff remained quiet during this incident because he feared for his life.

Outside of the R-3 Cell House, Defendant Frank slammed Plaintiff onto the concrete ground (Doc. 8, p. 8). Plaintiff sustained a shoulder and forearm injury, in the process of turning his body to avoid a head injury. Plaintiff was then "yanked" up off the ground and taken to the health care unit. When Plaintiff attempted to lift his head, Defendant Frank slammed Plaintiff onto the floor and used a closed fist to hit him in the back, neck, head, and shoulders. Defendant Frank and several other unknown officers then escorted Plaintiff to a sink and held his face under the water "as if to taunt or drown" him, while saying, "Got enough water mother*cker?" (Doc. 8, p. 9). This went on for several minutes.

After Plaintiff was assessed by medical staff, he was taken to a shower (Doc. 8, p. 10). There, Defendant Frank continued to beat Plaintiff, who eventually fell to the floor and broke his left thumb. When he asked for medical attention, Defendant Frank applied pressure to his thumb, causing more pain. Plaintiff's requests for medical attention were otherwise ignored.

Plaintiff learned the reason for his transfer after he was placed in segregation (Doc. 8-1, p. 7). He received a disciplinary ticket accusing him of sexual misconduct in connection with a female officer. This charge was ultimately dismissed. But Plaintiff was also charged with attempted staff assault, intimidation and/or threats, insolence, and disobeying a direct order (Doc. 8-1, p. 4; Doc. 8-3, p. 7). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Frank issued this ticket in an effort to cover up his use of excessive force against Plaintiff.

On July 31, 2014, Plaintiff attended a disciplinary hearing before Pinckneyville's adjustment committee, which included Defendant Hoch and McBride. They denied his request to call witnesses, refused to grant him a continuance, and disregarded all exonerating evidence (Doc. 8-1, p. 4; Doc. 8-2, p. 1). He was ultimately found guilty of all disciplinary charges, except the sexual misconduct charge. Plaintiff was punished with a disciplinary transfer to Menard, a 1-year term in segregation, a 6-month term of no contact visits, a 3-month revocation of his good conduct credits, and demotion to C-grade status (Doc. 8-1, p. 9; Doc. 8-3, p. 8).

Following his transfer to Menard on July 31, 2014, Plaintiff was placed in segregation in Menard's North II Cell House (Doc. 8-1, p. 1). He immediately submitted a request for medical treatment for a suspected broken thumb. Plaintiff was not called to the health care unit until August 12, 2014. He was not diagnosed with a left metacarpal fracture until August 18, 2014, when he was referred to an outside orthopedic clinic. Plaintiff was placed in a hand and arm cast, prescribed pain medication, and put on a medical hold (Doc. 8-1, p. 2). Once back in Menard's health care unit, Plaintiff was placed in a cold cell without any clothing, personal property, or mattress.[4]

Plaintiff now sues Defendants Frank, Hoch, and McBride. According to the amended complaint, Defendant Frank used excessive force against him, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and denied him medical treatment for the injuries he sustained as a result. Defendants Hoch and McBride violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process of law by conducting an unfair disciplinary hearing on false disciplinary charges that were leveled against him by Defendant Frank and another officer. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages for these Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment violations.

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

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the amended 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 amended complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be ...

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