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Beasley v. Pach

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 21, 2019




         Plaintiff Shawn Beasley, who is currently serving a state prison sentence at Waupun Correctional Institution and representing himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights were violated. This matter comes before the court on Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the full filing fee and to screen the complaint.

         Motion to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee

         Plaintiff has requested leave to proceed without prepayment of the full filing fee (in forma pauperis). A prisoner plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis is required to pay the full amount of the $350.00 filing fee over time. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff has filed a certified copy of his prison trust account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of his complaint, as required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2), and has been assessed and paid an initial partial filing fee of $22.85. Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee will be granted.

         Screening of the Complaint

          The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous or malicious, ” that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Hutchinson ex rel. Baker v. Spink, 126 F.3d 895, 900 (7th Cir. 1997).

         To state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, Plaintiff is required to provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint must contain sufficient factual matter “that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The court accepts the factual allegations as true and liberally construes them in the plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 651 (7th Cir. 2013). Nevertheless, the complaint's allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).

         Allegations of the Complaint

         Around 4:00 p.m. on July 17, 2018, Plaintiff alleges Correctional Officer Pach, under the direction of Lieutenant Immerfall, conducted a strip search of him. During the search, Pach allegedly told Plaintiff to bend over at the waist and spread his buttocks. Because he felt uncomfortable with bending over at the waist and spreading his buttocks, Plaintiff chose to squat down instead and spread his buttocks. In response to Plaintiff's actions, Immerfall purportedly ordered Plaintiff to bend over at the waist and spread his buttocks and warned Plaintiff that failure to do so would result in him being tasered. Plaintiff followed Immerfall's command, and states that after standing back up, Immerfall tased him at the same time Pach and another officer tackled him, wrestling him to the ground. While the two correctional officers restrained Plaintiff, Immerfall allegedly tased him again in the back of his right leg. Once restrained with hand cuffs and leg restraints, Immerfall directed Pach to conduct an anal cavity search of Plaintiff that Pach proceeded to do. Although Plaintiff's complaint describes two searches, it appears that the second description is duplicative, describing the same events again. See Dkt. No. 1 at 6-8.

         Plaintiff alleges that Immerfall gave false statements in his conduct reports following these events, when he reported that Plaintiff had a white object stored between his buttocks and that when Plaintiff initially squatted down he grabbed the white object with his left hand and proceeded to place it in his mouth and swallow it. Based on a strong odor of marijuana allegedly emanating from Plaintiff's mouth, Immerfall stated in his report that he believed the white object contained marijuana. Plaintiff also alleges that Immerfall covered up the false statements in his conduct report by not ordering an intoxicant test to see if in fact there was marijuana in Plaintiff's system as a result of swallowing the white object.

         Regarding Security Director Anthony Meli, Plaintiff alleges that Meli contributed to Immerfall's cover up by not ordering an intoxicants test after Plaintiff swallowed the white object and by not ordering any medical care for Plaintiff in response to him swallowing an unknown object.

         Plaintiff states that as a result of the defendants' actions, he suffered “major physical injury, mental injury, emotional distress, cruel and inhuman treatment, [and] cruel and unusual punishment.” Id. at 12. Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment “stating defendants['] actions violated Plaintiff['s] Eighth Amendment rights, ” compensatory damages, and injunctive relief “stating Defendant[s] must pay Plaintiff for all psychological service[s] and mental bills” once released and be “allowed to see a[n] outside psychiatrist while in DOC prison system.” Id. at 13.

         The Court's Analysis

          “‘The Eighth Amendment prohibits punishments which involve the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, are grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime for which an inmate was imprisoned, or are totally without penological justification.'” Whitman v. Nesic, 368 F.3d 931, 934 (7th Cir. 2004), as amended June 4, 2004 (quoting Meriwether v. Faulkner, 821 F.2d 408, 415 (7th Cir. 1987)). Regarding Immerfall's use of a taser, force that is used “in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline” does not run afoul of the Constitution; only when it is intended “maliciously and sadistically to cause harm” does it give rise to a constitutional claim. Lewis v. Downey, 581 F.3d 467, 476 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 7 (1992)). Plaintiff alleges that he was tased twice: once after he had complied with Immerfall's order, and then again when he was on the floor while two correctional officers attempted to restrain him. Dkt. No. 1 at 5-6. Taking the allegations in the complaint as true, which the court must do at this stage, it does not appear that ...

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