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Brown v. Shah

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 22, 2016

MICHAEL BROWN, #R-65831, Plaintiff,


          MICHAEL J. REAGAN U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiff Michael Brown, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”), brings this pro se action for alleged violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 10). Plaintiff makes a number of claims under the Eighth Amendment all stemming from an incident of excessive force by prison guards. Additionally, he alleges a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights for the defendants' non-response to his grievances. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff sues Vipin Shah (doctor), Shirley (lieutenant), Cowski (lieutenant), and Jacqueline Lashbrook (Pinckneyville warden) for monetary damages and injunctive relief.

         This case is now 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). The Court is reviewing the First Amended Complaint because the original complaint was dismissed without prejudice for incompleteness (Docs. 1, 9, 10).

         The Complaint

         Brown alleges that on August 25, 2015, he was attacked by a fellow inmate at Pinckneyville. Defendants Shirley and Cowski responded to the fight in Brown's housing unit and immediately detained him by tightly handcuffing his hands behind his back. He alleges that Shirley and Cowski should not have used such force to restrain him because he was obviously suffering from a severe asthma attack and could be observed gasping for breath and sweating profusely (Id.). Despite his pleas to have a minute to catch his breath or to be cuffed in front of his body, the Defendants persisted and forced him to walk more than 500 yards to the medical unit (Id.). On the walk Defendants told him to “shut up” and they continued forcing his arms upwards in painful positions (Id.).

         Brown filed grievances about Shirley and Cowski's conduct, but received no responses (Id. at 6). When he inquired about the grievances, he was told they were not received, so he submitted more grievances (Id.). Brown also sought medical care for his shoulder injuries as a result of the handcuffing, but Defendant Shah denied care. Shah simply told him to “lose more weight and drink more water” (Id.). Brown followed up on his efforts to get medical care by filing grievances about that as well (Id.). He alleges that he received no response to those grievances and that the non-response constituted an effort to impeded his ability to litigate (Id.). As a whole, Brown alleges that the Defendants' conduct constituted deliberate indifference. He claims that he suffered rotator cuff injuries to both shoulders, severe headaches and depression, and other unspecified mental injuries (Id.).


         Based on the allegations, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se Complaint into the following enumerated claims. 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 counts does not constitute an opinion regarding their merit.

Count 1:Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Shirley and Cowski for use of excessive force by handcuffing Brown and transporting him to the medical unit in an aggressive fashion;
Count 2:Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition claim against Defendant Shah for failing to treat Brown's shoulder injuries that resulted from the handcuffing incident;
Count 3:Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claim against Defendant Lashbrook for deliberately failing to respond to Brown's grievances; and,
Count 4:Denial of access to the courts claim against Defendant Lashbrook for failing to respond to Brown's grievances All counts shall be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. All Defendants shall be dismissed.

         Count 1

         The intentional use of excessive force by prison guards against an inmate without penological justification constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment and is actionable under § 1983. See Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 38-40 (2010); DeWalt v. Carter,224 F.3d 607, 619 (7th Cir. 2000). An inmate must show that an assault occurred, and that “it was carried out ‘maliciously and sadistically' rather than as part of ‘a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline.'” Wilkins, 559 U.S. at 40 (citing Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6 (1992)). An inmate seeking damages for the use of excessive force need not establish serious bodily injury to make a claim, but not “every malevolent touch by a prison guard gives rise to ...

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