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Mayss v. Illinois Department of Corrections

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 4, 2017

MICHAEL A. J. MAYS, Plaintiff,
v.
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, and S. EVANS Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Michael A. J. Mays, an inmate in Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for events that allegedly occurred at Menard Correctional Center. Plaintiff seeks 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.

         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 any reasonable person would find meritless. 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).

         Upon careful review of the Complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A. Portions of this Complaint are subject to dismissal.

         The Complaint

         On December 14, 2015, after Plaintiff finished a visit with his mother, Defendant Evans began making derogatory comments to Plaintiff and repeatedly referred to him as “boy, ” which Plaintiff took to have racial connotations. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff took offense and requested grievance forms. Id. He also attempted to speak to the lieutenant in Evans' presence, but the sergeant told Plaintiff to return to his cell. Id. After Plaintiff was returned to his cell, Evans came to the cell and tried to goad Plaintiff into fighting him. Id. Evans then gave Plaintiff a direct order to come to the front of the cell, at which time Evans physically assaulted Plaintiff by punching him, slamming his head against the bars and scratching him. Id.

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to combine the pro se action into 1 count. The parties and the Court will use this designation in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The following claim survives threshold review:

Count 1 - Evans used excessive force against Plaintiff in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

         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 (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 a ...


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