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Hall v. Pruitt

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

May 28, 2018

ADAM WADE HALL, Plaintiff,
v.
FNU PRUITT, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Frank D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, (Doc. No. 9). Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. See (Doc. No. 6).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiff has filed a civil rights suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 with regards to an incident that allegedly occurred at the Marion Correctional Institution where he is still incarcerated. The Complaint was dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and Plaintiff was given the opportunity to file an Amended Complaint, which is presently before the Court on initial review. See (Doc. No. 8).

         Plaintiff names as Defendants Sergeant Pruitt, Officer Kalinowski, and Officer Brigth. Construing the Amended Complaint liberally and accepting the allegations as true, Plaintiff was in a cell in the North Wing of Marion C.I. at 14:05 hours on January 4, 2018, when Officer Kalinowski cuffed him, then pushed and hit him with closed fists. Officer Brigth jumped in to help Kalinowski. Sergeant Pruitt tried to spray Plaintiff but another officer stopped her. Plaintiff also alleges that “[t]hey jump on me cause we was in my cell no crame for me by gay and then Sgt. spray me and said you a gay ass Muslim.” (Doc. No. 9 at 4). In addition, his prayer rug was taken by Officers Brigth and Sergeant Pruitt.

         Plaintiff's leg was cut, he was sprayed which still hurts, and he has “small redness” to his head and neck, for which he was given ibuprofen. (Doc. No. 9 at 5).

         Plaintiff seeks the return of his prayer rug, transfer from the institution or “fixs it where no inmate be in cell with officer, ” and $3, 000. (Doc. No. 9 at 5).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to dismissal on the grounds that it is “(i) frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). In its frivolity review, a 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). A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim “unless ‘after accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and drawing all reasonable factual inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor, it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim entitling him to relief.'” Veney v. Wyche, 293 F.3d 726, 730 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999)).

         A pro se complaint must be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); see also Smith v. Smith, 589 F.3d 736, 738 (4th Cir. 2009) (“Liberal construction of the pleadings is particularly appropriate where … there is a pro se complaint raising civil rights issues.”). 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). A pro se complaint must still contain sufficient facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (the Twombly plausibility standard applies to all federal civil complaints including those filed under § 1983). This “plausibility standard requires a plaintiff to demonstrate more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). He must articulate facts that, when accepted as true, demonstrate he has stated a claim entitling him to relief. Id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         (1) Excessive Force

         “[T]he treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment, ” Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993). In its prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishments, ” the Eighth Amendment places restraints on prison officials, who may not, for example, use excessive physical force against prisoners. See Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1 (1992).

         A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are met. First, the deprivation alleged must be, objectively, “sufficiently serious, ” Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991); see also Hudson, 503 U.S. at 5, and must result in the denial of “the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities, ” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). The second requirement is that a prison official must have a “sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Wilson, 501 U.S. at 297, 302-03; Hudson, 503 U.S. at 5, 8. “[T]he use of excessive physical force against a prisoner may constitute cruel and unusual punishment [even] when the inmate does not suffer serious injury.” Hudson, 503 U.S. 1, 4 (1992); see Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 34 (2010). The “core judicial inquiry, ” is not whether a certain quantum of injury was sustained, but rather “whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.” Hudson, 503 U.S. at 7. “When prison officials maliciously and sadistically use force to cause harm, ” the Court ...


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