United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Complaint, filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
(Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff has been granted in forma pauperis
status. (Doc. No. 9).
Plaintiff Darryl Boyd Adkins, a North Carolina inmate
incarcerated at Marion Correctional Institution in Marion,
North Carolina, filed this action on January 5, 2017,
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has named the
following two persons as Defendants, identified as
correctional officers at Marion at all relevant times: (1)
FNU Washburn, and (2) FNU Kalinwoski. Plaintiff alleges that
Defendants used excessive force against Plaintiff in
violation of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights on
August 28, 2016. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that on
the morning of August 28, 2016, Plaintiff started coming out
his cell, located on E-Block, D-Unit. (Doc. No. 1 at 3-7).
Plaintiff alleges that, as he started leaving his cell,
Defendant Washburn grabbed Plaintiff by his throat with one
hand and he grabbed Plaintiff's shirt with his other
hand, and he then tried to push Plaintiff back in his cell
while Plaintiff still had handcuffs behind his back.
Plaintiff also alleges that, during the incident, Washburn
forcefully pushed Plaintiff on the floor while Defendant
Kalinwoski helped Washburn put Plaintiff on the ground in
front of his cell doorway. Plaintiff alleges that, during
this time, Washburn was bending Plaintiff's left and
right wrists, and that Washburn then punched Plaintiff four
times in his left eye, despite that Plaintiff was handcuffed
and not resisting. Plaintiff also alleges that Kalinwoski
placed a can of pepper spray towards Plaintiff's face and
threatened to spray him if he resisted. Plaintiff alleges
that he subsequently had pain in his left eye and wrists, and
was given pain medication. Plaintiff also alleges he suffers
from migraines and headaches as a result of the incident, and
that he can no longer move his left and right wrists in the
same way he could before the use of force. Plaintiff seeks
injunctive and declaratory relief and compensatory damages.
(Id. at 3).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must
review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to
dismissal on the grounds that it is “frivolous or
malicious [or] fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Furthermore,
under § 1915A the Court must conduct an initial review
and identify and dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the
complaint, if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief.
frivolity review, this Court must determine whether the
Complaint raises an indisputably meritless legal theory or is
founded upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as
fantastic or delusional scenarios. Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989). Furthermore, a
pro se complaint must be construed liberally. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the liberal
construction requirement will not permit a district court to
ignore a clear failure to allege facts in his Complaint which
set forth a claim that is cognizable under federal law.
Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387
(4th Cir. 1990).
Eighth Amendment prohibits the infliction of “cruel and
unusual punishments, ” U.S. Const. amend. VIII, and
protects prisoners from the “unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain, ” Whitley v. Albers, 475
U.S. 312, 319 (1986). To establish an Eighth Amendment claim,
an inmate must satisfy both an objective component-that the
harm inflicted was sufficiently serious-and a subjective
component-that the prison official acted with a sufficiently
culpable state of mind. Williams v. Benjamin, 77
F.3d 756, 761 (4th Cir. 1996). In adjudicating an excessive
force claim, the Court must consider such factors as the need
for the use of force, the relationship between that need and
the amount of force used, the extent of the injury inflicted,
and, ultimately, whether the force was “applied in a
good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or
maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing
harm.” Albers, 475 U.S. at 320-21.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court has reiterated that
“[a]n inmate who is gratuitously beaten by guards does
not lose his ability to pursue an excessive force claim
merely because he has the good fortune to escape without
serious injury.” Wilkins v. Gaddy, 130 S.Ct.
1175, 1178-79 (2010). In Wilkins v. Gaddy, the
Supreme Court observed:
This is not to say that the “absence of serious
injury” is irrelevant to the Eighth Amendment inquiry.
“[T]he extent of injury suffered by an inmate is one
factor that may suggest ‘whether the use of force could
plausibly have been thought necessary' in a particular
situation.” The extent of injury may also provide some
indication of the amount of force applied. As we stated in
Hudson, not “every malevolent touch by a
prison guard gives rise to a federal cause of action.”
“The Eighth Amendment's prohibition of ‘cruel
and unusual' punishments necessarily excludes from
constitutional recognition de minimis uses of physical force,
provided that the use of force is not of a sort repugnant to
the conscience of mankind.” An inmate who complains of
a “push or shove” that causes no discernible
injury almost certainly fails to state a valid excessive
force claim. Injury and force, however, are only imperfectly
correlated, and it is the latter that ultimately counts.
Id. at 1178-79 (citations omitted).
Court finds that, taking Plaintiff's allegations as true
for the purposes of initial review, and construing all
inferences in Plaintiff's favor, this action survives
initial screening as to Plaintiff's excessive force claim
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). That is, Plaintiff has stated
a cognizable claim of excessive force against Defendant
Washburn. As to Plaintiff's allegations against Defendant
Kalinwoski, Plaintiff does not allege that Defendant
Kalinwoski himself used any force against Plaintiff.
Plaintiff alleges, at most, that Defendant Kalinwoski
threatened to use pepper spray against Plaintiff if Plaintiff
resisted. To the extent, however, that Plaintiff is
attempting to infer that Defendant Kalinwoski is liable for
failing to intervene in the force allegedly used by Defendant
Washburn, the Court will not dismiss Plaintiff's Eighth
Amendment claim against Defendant Kalinwoski at this time.