United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville 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). 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Plaintiff has been
granted in forma pauperis status. (Doc. No. 5).
Plaintiff Timothy Uzzell, a North Carolina inmate
incarcerated at Alexander Correctional Institution in
Taylorsville, North Carolina, filed this action on November
6, 2017, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has
named the following four Defendants, all identified as
correctional officers at Alexander at all relevant times: (1)
FNU Murrray; (2) FNU Nichols; (3) FNU Daves; and (4) FNU
Blanton. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants used excessive
force against Plaintiff in violation of Plaintiff's
Eighth Amendment rights while he was incarcerated at
Alexander on March 27, 2015. Plaintiff alleges the following
facts to support his claim:
On the date of 3/27/2015 at approximately 2 p.m. I was
escorted out of my cell by Lt. Nichols, Officer Daves,
Officer Murray, and Officer Blanton to the upstairs shower.
After Officer Daves secured the shower door by locking it
with me opened the trap door to take the handcuffs off of me.
A brief struggle happened and Officer Blanton along with
Officer Murray and Lt. Nichols helped subdue my arms while
Officer Blanton and Officer Daves held my left arm. Lt.
Nichols and Officer Murray began to bend my fingers trying to
break them. As I began to tell for him to stop Lt. Nichols
said to Officer Murray to not break all of my fingers just 1
and maybe one more. At that time Officer Murray took my index
finger and began pulling it towards my thumb while puling my
other 3 fingers in the opposite direction, splitting the
webbing in between my fingers. I had to get stitches as well
as now physical therapy caused by damaged nerves in my hand
from the excessive force that was used. A violation of my
(Doc. No. 1 at 3-4). Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages.
(Id at 4).
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