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Roberson v. Cleland

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 27, 2018

JACKIE ROBERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
D. CLELAND, CAROL MCBRIDE, KING, and URASKI Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Herndon United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Jackie Roberson, an inmate in Pinckneyville Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff requests money and equitable relief. 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).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that he tried to kill himself by taking pills on May 1, 2018. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Although he was initially taken to the Health Care Unit, he was then escorted to the back where defendant Cleland started to beat him, while defendants McBride, King, and Uraski stood by and failed to intervene. Id. Plaintiff was handcuffed with his hands behind his back at the time. Id.

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into a single count. 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 following claim survives threshold review:

Count 1 - Cleland beat Plaintiff while he was handcuffed, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, while McBride, King, and Uraski failed to intervene.

         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)). The factors relevant to this determination include: (1) the need for the application of force; (2) the amount of force that was used; (3) the extent of injury inflicted; (4) the extent of the threat to the safety of staff and inmates, as reasonably perceived by the responsible officials on the basis of the facts known to them; and (5) any efforts made to temper the severity of a forceful response. Lewis v. Downey, 581 F.3d 467, 477 (7th Cir. 2009); Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837 (7th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted).

         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 federal cause of action.” Wilkins, 559 U.S. at 37-38 (the question is whether force was de minimis, not whether the ...


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