United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
D. Whitney, Judge
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Complaint, filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
[Doc. 1]. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2);
1915A. The Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. [Doc.
Plaintiff Richard Alan Gaddis, Jr., a North Carolina state
court inmate currently incarcerated at Union County Jail (the
“Jail”) in Monroe, North Carolina, filed this
action on December 12, 2018, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Plaintiff claims that Defendants used excessive force
in violation of his constitutional right not to be subjected
to cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to
the U.S. Constitution and failed to protect Plaintiff and
failed to intervene in an attack on Plaintiff in violation of
the Eighth Amendment. In his Complaint, Plaintiff names as
Defendants FNU Belk, identified as a deputy sheriff of Union
County, North Carolina; and FNU Payne, identified as
Detention Officer at Union County Jail. [Id. at
1-2]. Specifically, the Plaintiff alleges that, on June 12,
2018, Plaintiff was attacked for the second time that day by
the same inmate. Plaintiff states that Defendant Belk
“just stood around and watched as [the Plaintiff] tried
to hold off [his] attacker and then while [Plaintiff] was on
the bottom getting beat in the back of the head”
Defendant Belk tased him “in the head at point blank
range.” Defendant Belk then took Plaintiff to the
hospital “where he laughed and joked about [the
incident] with hospital security.” Plaintiff does not
state whether any force was used on the other inmate involved
in the altercation. [Doc. 1 at 2-4]. As to Defendant Payne,
the only allegation Plaintiff makes is that she “opened
all door on disciplinary segregation inmates with keep aways
on them.” [Id. at 2].
claims his injuries include neck spasms, severe damage to his
kneecap, problems sleeping, bad dreams, problems trusting
officers, and potential nerve damage and a sprained neck.
[Id. at 6]. Plaintiff seeks payment for all medical
bills and medications related to his injuries when he is
released from prison and damages in the amount of $6 million.
[Id. at 8].
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).
brings various Eighth Amendment claims against Defendant Belk
based on excessive force, failure to protect, and failure to
intervene. First, as to the excessive force claims against
Defendant Belk, 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
the Supreme Court has recently 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, 559 U.S. 34, 38 (2010).
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