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Jamahl Clarke v. Officer anderson

August 10, 2012

JAMAHL CLARKE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OFFICER ANDERSON, SGT. JOHNSON, ARTHUR WILSON, AND NURSE BARBARA SQUELCH DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr. United States Magistrate Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties have consented to the assignment of this case to the undersigned to conduct all proceedings in this case, including the entry of final judgment. Dkt. #22.

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the alleged violation of his rights under the First and Eighth Amendments. Specifically, plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages for alleged excessive force, retaliation, and deliberate indifference to his medical needs based upon allegations that he was beaten by defendants Anderson, Johnson, and Wilson in retaliation for the filing of grievances and that defendant Squelch ignored his resulting injuries. Dkt. #1. Currently pending before the court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment. Dkt. #32. For the following reasons, defendants' motion is granted in part.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND*fn1

In support of the motion, the defendants have each submitted a declaration with supporting exhibits. Defendant Michael Anderson stated that on February 7, 2009, he was on duty as a Corrections Officer ("CO") at the Wyoming Correctional Facility ("WCF"). Dkt. # 34, ¶ 1. At approximately 4:40 p.m., plaintiff was brought into the Special Housing Unit ("SHU"), after a verbal altercation with another inmate. During the course of a strip frisk, plaintiff became non-compliant with CO Anderson's direct orders. Id., ¶ 6. Plaintiff's right hand was clenched in a fist and he refused to unclench the fist and place his hands flat at his sides. Id., ¶¶ 7-9. Plaintiff then turned toward defendant CO Arthur Wilson "with clenched fists and in a fighting stance." Id., ¶ 10. Defendants Anderson, Johnson, and Wilson attempted to restrain the plaintiff with body holds and restraint cuffs. Id., ¶¶ 11-16. Their momentum drove all four men into a corner near the inmate clothing rack. Id., ¶ 14. After plaintiff was restrained, he was escorted to his cell. Id., ¶ 17.

Plaintiff was examined by defendant Nurse Squelch and photos were taken as a standard practice after the use of force. Dkt. # 34, ¶ 18. Defendant Anderson stated that no excessive or unjustified force was used against plaintiff. Id., ¶ 20. The force used was "appropriate and necessary" to secure the inmate, prevent an assault, gain compliance with lawful orders, and maintain the safety and security of the facility. Id., ¶ 21.

Defendants Wilson and Johnson submitted declarations that corroborate the version of events as stated by defendant Anderson. Dkt. ##33 & 35. The defendants deny that they kicked, beat with batons, choked, kneed, or punched plaintiff as he has alleged. Dkt. # 35, ¶ 12.

Defendant Barbara Squelch stated in her declaration that she attempted to examine plaintiff in her capacity as a registered nurse after the use of force incident on February 7, 2009. Dkt. # 36, ¶ 7. She observed plaintiff in his briefs and saw no visible injuries, which she noted in the Use of Force Report )Dkt. # 36, Exh. B), and plaintiff's Ambulatory Health Record. Dkt. # 36, Exh. A. Plaintiff was uncooperative and refused to answer questions, but told defendant Squelch that he was "psychologically distressed" and was "going to kill [him]self." Id., ¶ 9; Exh. A. Defendant Squelch placed the plaintiff on a suicide watch and arranged for his transfer to the Mental Health Unit at Attica Correctional Facility. Id., ¶ 10; Dkt. # 36, Exh. A.

Plaintiff returned to WCF on February 12, 2009 and again threatened to harm himself. Dkt. # 36, ¶ 12; Dkt. # 36, Exh. A. Defendant Squelch did not examine plaintiff at that time, but the evaluating nurse noted no visible injuries and plaintiff was again placed on a suicide watch and returned to the Mental Health Unit at Attica. Id., ¶ 13.

When plaintiff returned to WCF on February 17, 2009, defendant Squelch evaluated him for the second and last time. Dkt. # 36, ¶ 15. Plaintiff complained of back and shoulder pain and stated that he was supposed to have received pain medication but was never seen by a physician. Id., Exh. A. Defendant Squelch noted that plaintiff was moving in his cell and showed no signs of injury or impaired mobility. Id., ¶ 18. Defendant Squelch then explained the sick-call policy to plaintiff and advised him how to be seen by a sick-call nurse the following morning. Id., ¶¶ 20-22.

Plaintiff was seen by a nurse other than defendant Squelch on February 18, 2009 complaining of cold symptoms and was given cough syrup. Dkt. # 36, ¶ 26, Exh. A. He was seen on February 19, 2009 by a nurse other than defendant Squelch complaining that he missed a doctor's appointment. Id., ¶ 27. Plaintiff was seen on February 20, 2009 by a nurse other than defendant Squelch complaining that he needed refills for prescription medications. Dkt. # 36, ¶ 28, Exh. A. On February 23, 2009, plaintiff was seen by a nurse other than defendant Squelch and complained of injuries resulting from the incident of February 7, 2009. Id., ¶ 29, Exh. A. The Ambulatory Health Record indicates that plaintiff was to be evaluated to assess his need for an appointment with a physician. Id., Exh. A. Subsequent x-rays in March 2009 of plaintiff's shoulder, lumbar spine, and thoracic spine and in April 2009 of plaintiff's left hand and left knee indicated no acute abnormalities. Id., ¶¶ 31-32.

In opposition to the motion, plaintiff has submitted a declaration in which he states that he was moved to the SHU after a "verbal conflict" with another inmate. Dkt. # 41, ¶ 2. When he arrived at the SHU, defendant Johnson told the other officers that plaintiff had been filing grievances against several officers. Id. Plaintiff was then assaulted by defendants Anderson, Johnson, and Wilson "with sticks, punches, kicks, and choked." Id. He denied that he was ordered to unclench his fist. Id.

Plaintiff further stated that he complained to defendant Squelch about pain to his back, shoulder, leg, and hand and that she told him he was suicidal. Dkt. # 41, ¶ 2. He stated that he received lacerations to his face and scalp and numerous bruises and abrasions to his arms, legs, torso, face, and head. Id., ¶ 8. Plaintiff also stated that ...


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