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Osborne v. Goins

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 29, 2016

ALEXANDER OSBORNE, No. N64390 Plaintiff
RUSSELL J. GOINS, et al., Defendants.


          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, an inmate at the Lawrence Correctional Center, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his constitutional rights with respect to his dreadlocks being shaved off his head by the defendant prison officials. Plaintiff seeks declarative relief, injunctive relief and damages. 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.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         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). 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, 590 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A complaint is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, courts “should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Service, 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff is a 59 year-old man. He suffers from Hepatitis C, diabetes, osteoporosis and neuropathy. (Doc. 1, p. 4). He has limited movement and needs assistance, for which he is assigned an inmate helper. (Doc. 1, p. 4-5). Plaintiff also uses a wheelchair to get around. (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         Plaintiff has been a Rastafarian for more than 30 years. (Doc. 1, p. 5). It is against Plaintiff's religious beliefs to cut or comb his hair. (Doc. 1, p. 5). On December 26, 2013, Defendant Goins issued Plaintiff a direct order to cut his dreadlocks. (Doc. 1, p. 7) (Doc. 1-1, p. 5). He told Plaintiff if he removed the dreadlocks on his own, he could keep his prison job. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff responded that he was a Rastafarian and could never cut or comb his hair due to his religious beliefs. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Goins then issued an inmate disciplinary report (“IDR”) and instructed Defendant Buchner to escort Plaintiff to segregation. (Doc. 1, p.7). Plaintiff was disciplined with one month C grade and 1 month segregation on December 30, 2013. (Doc. 1-1, p. 5).

         On December 28, 2013, Defendant Lamb came to Plaintiff's segregation cell and asked Plaintiff to cut his dreadlocks. (Doc. 1, p. 7) (Doc. 1-1, p. 6). Plaintiff once again refused on religious grounds. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Defendant Hodge then called Plaintiff to the internal affairs office and tried to convince him to cut his hair by promising to allow him to keep his prison job in the kitchen. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff informed Hodge that his religious beliefs prohibited him from cutting his hair and that there were recent court rulings against forcible cutting. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Hodge said he would call out the tactical team to make Plaintiff cut his hair. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Plaintiff was issued an IDR for this incident and on January 1, 2014, was disciplined with 1 month C grade and 1 month segregation. (Doc. 1-1, p. 6).

         On December 31, 2013, Defendant Zollars came to Plaintiff's cell and asked him again to cut his dreadlocks. (Doc. 1, p. 8) (Doc. 1-1, p. 7). This time, the tactical team was called out. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff was placed in mechanical restraints, sprayed with pepper spray and his hair was cut off. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Defendants Harper, Ginder, Jenkins, Stout, Vaughn and Carie were on the tactical team. (Doc. 1, p. 8). The team also jumped on Plaintiff, slammed their shields down on his back and ran his head into the wall. (Doc. 1, p. 8). They cut off his eyebrows along with his hair. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff was in serious pain and could not breathe because of the pepper spray, but the above-mentioned defendants denied him medical treatment. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff alleges that this amount of force used was unnecessary, as he already suffers from medical aliments that make moving around difficult. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff was issued an IDR for this incident as well and given 1 month C-grade on January 8, 2014. (Doc. 1-1, p. 7).

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide Plaintiff's pro se action into 4 counts. 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. ...

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