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Cooper v. Scanlan

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 9, 2019

JOVAN COOPER, #K58636, Plaintiff,
v.
C/O SCANLAN, C/O ROYSTER, C/O J. MORRIS, C/O FITZGERALD, and C/O FREEMAN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STACI M. YANDLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Jovan Cooper, an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) currently incarcerated at Pinckneyville Correctional Center (“Pinckneyville”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff claims he was the victim of a racially motivated assault by five correctional officers at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”) in January 2018. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 8-9). His also claims his property was stolen the same month. (Id. at p. 8). Plaintiff seeks release on parole. (Id. at p. 7).

         This case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Under Section 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner Complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Any portion of a 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 must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se Complaint are liberally construed. Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff makes the following allegations in the Complaint: Sometime in January 2018, Plaintiff was beaten by Officers Scanlan, Royster, Morris, Fitzgerald, and Freeman while he was cuffed to a steel or iron gate in Menard's sick call area. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 8-9). As the officers assaulted Plaintiff, they used racial slurs against him. (Id. at pp. 6, 8). One of the officers (Officer Royster) harassed Plaintiff twice the same week by turning the water in his cell on and off. (Id. at p. 9). Plaintiff's personal property was also stolen. (Id. at p. 8).

         Based on the allegations in the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se Complaint into the following Counts:

Count 1: Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against Defendants Scanlan, Royster, Morris, Fitzgerald, and Freeman.
Count 2: Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim against Defendants Scanlan, Royster, Morris, Fitzgerald, and Freeman.
Count 3: Fourteenth Amendment claim for deprivation of property without due process of law against Defendants Scanlan, Royster, Morris, Fitzgerald, and Freeman.

         Any other claim that is mentioned in the Complaint but not addressed herein is considered dismissed without prejudice as inadequately pled under Twombly.[1]

         Discussion

         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. Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34 (2010). To state an excessive force claim, 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)). Plaintiff sets forth sufficient allegations to state an excessive force claim against all five defendants who allegedly beat him while he was restrained in January 2018. Hendrickson v. Cooper, 589 F.3d 887, 890 (7th Cir. 2009). Therefore, Count 1 will receive further review against Defendants.

         Coun ...


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