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Alexander v. Walls

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 24, 2018

MICHAEL ALEXANDER, #K61175, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Michael Alexander, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Western Illinois Correctional Center (“Western”), brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff claims that prison officials subjected him to excessive force at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”) in 2017. (Doc. 1, pp. 8-12). He brings claims against the officials under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. (Doc. 1, p. 13).

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the Complaint (Doc. 1) 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). The Complaint survives screening under this standard.


         According to the allegations in the Complaint, several correctional officers used excessive force against Plaintiff at Pinckneyville on or around August 13, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 9). Plaintiff was involved in a fight with another inmate on that date. Id. He sought medical treatment for a bloody nose. Id. While in the prison's healthcare unit (“HCU”), Officer Urouski attempted to interview Plaintiff about the fight. Id. Plaintiff was unwilling to speak with the officer, so Officer Urouski ended the interview. Id.

         Lieutenant Walls entered the room in order to escort Plaintiff back to his cell. (Doc. 1, p. 9). When Plaintiff rose from the gurney where he had been sitting, Lieutenant Walls snatched him by the cuffs and pulled down hard, as if he was “trying to break [Plaintiff's] wrists.” Id. The lieutenant said, “[Y]ou move when I say move.” Id. Lieutenant Walls then contacted Lieutenant Pierce and asked him to meet Plaintiff and Walls behind the maintenance building. Id.

         When Lieutenant Pierce met Lieutenant Walls behind the building, he asked Plaintiff, “[W]hat's up guy, why you giving Lt. Walls trouble?” (Doc. 1, p. 9). Lieutenant Pierce told Plaintiff that Lieutenant Walls is “alright” because he is a fishing buddy. Id. Plaintiff said, “I could give a fuck less.” Id. Plaintiff then informed Lieutenant Pierce that he did not know Lieutenant Walls, but reminded Lieutenant Pierce that “they” had history. (Doc. 1, p. 10).

         Lieutenant Walls responded to this statement by snatching Plaintiff's cuffs and pulling them up fast, as though he was “intentionally trying to hurt the Plaintiff.” (Doc. 1, pp. 9-10). The cuffs cut into Plaintiff's wrists and caused him to scream. (Doc. 1, p. 10). When Plaintiff asked Lieutenant Walls why he was hurting him, the lieutenant said, “[Y]ou ain't seen nothing yet.” Id. At that, the lieutenant attempted to trip Plaintiff as he walked through the door to segregation. Id. He then kicked Plaintiff so hard that he broke the skin on Plaintiff's leg and caused him to fall face-first into a chair. Id.

         Officer Martin was present at the time and attempted to use his hand to exert pressure behind Plaintiff's right ear. (Doc. 1, p. 10). Lieutenant Walls then used his knees and fists to hit Plaintiff in the ribs, back, and hips. Id. At the time, Lieutenant Pierce, Officer Byrd, and Officer Hill were present, but they did not intervene. Id.

         Following the incident, Officer Martin picked Plaintiff up off the floor and escorted him to the shower. (Doc. 1, p. 12). Officer Martin told Plaintiff that Lieutenant Walls had just received bad news about his brother and took out his frustrations on Plaintiff. Id. The officer told Plaintiff that he did not deserve the beating. Id.

         When Plaintiff's cuffs were removed, Plaintiff noticed that his wrists were bleeding, and he had “deep tissue” bruising. (Doc. 1, pp. 11-12). He saw Nurse Ferrari passing out medication, and he asked her for medical attention. Id. She stated that she already treated him for his injuries in the HCU. Id. Plaintiff told the nurse that he needed treatment for new injuries, and she documented the new injuries to his ribs, wrists, and thighs. Id. Plaintiff alleges that he still suffers from shoulder pain and headaches as a result of the incident on August 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 11).

         Plaintiff also requested mental health treatment following the incident. (Doc. 1, p. 12). Kara Ratoshik[1] met with him. Id. When Plaintiff told her that he feared for his safety, she placed him on a 15-minute watch for five days. Id. He complains of his on-going struggles with ...

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