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Haywoodd v. Baylor

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

March 23, 2018

JOHN D. HAYWOOD, Plaintiff,
v.
LT. BAYLOR, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          MICHAEL J. REAGAN United States District Court Chief Judge

         This case was severed on March 2, 2018 from Haywood v. Finnerman, Case No. 18-cv-21-JPG-SCW (S.D. Ill.). (Doc. 1). It contains the claim designated as Count 10 in the original case, described as follows:

Count 10: Eighth Amendment claim against Beyler/Baylor[1] for denying Plaintiff a wheelchair or assistance to board the transfer bus to Lawrence on March 9, 2016.

         Plaintiff John D. Haywood, an inmate of Lawrence Correctional Center (“Lawrence”), filed the original civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on January 4, 2018, alleging that officials at several prisons violated his constitutional rights. Count 10 is directed against Lt. Beyler/Baylor, a correctional officer at Lawrence. Plaintiff's claim is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Under § 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner Complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of the Complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief, must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         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 “no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.” 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. Conversely, 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), 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. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011); Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Applying these standards, the Court finds that Plaintiff's claim survives threshold review under § 1915A.

         The Complaint (Doc. 2)

         Plaintiff's factual allegations relating to Count 10 are as follows.

         In the mid-1990s, while incarcerated in Illinois, Plaintiff suffered from a back injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down. (Doc. 2, p. 5). Additionally, Plaintiff's foot was partially amputated due to bone cancer. Id. Eventually, after receiving physical therapy, Plaintiff was able to walk with quad canes. Id. However, in 2007, Plaintiff suffered a re-injury to his back, leaving him paralyzed again and necessitating the use of a wheelchair. (Doc. 2, p. 6).

         On March 9, 2016, Plaintiff was told he was being transferred. (Doc. 2, p. 15). His request for a wheelchair was initially refused, but eventually an officer took him in a wheelchair to the chapel, where the outgoing inmates were strip searched. (Doc. 2, p. 16). However, the wheelchair was then taken away, forcing Plaintiff to crawl on the floor until he fell and some fellow inmates carried him outside where the bus was waiting. An officer threatened those inmates with segregation, so they put Plaintiff down, and he crawled across the pavement to the bus, where the driver helped him to board it. Plaintiff had to change buses at Lincoln Correctional Center, where he was given a wheelchair at ...


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