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Easley v. Cooper

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

October 25, 2017

DAVE EASLEY, Plaintiff,
RANDY RICKY COOPER, et al., Defendants.

          Barrett, J.


          Karen L. Litkovitz United States Magistrate Judge.

         Proceeding pro se, plaintiff brings this prisoner civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against several prison employees alleging violations of his constitutional rights. (Doc. 3). This matter is before the Court on defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) (Doc. 52) and plaintiffs memorandum in opposition (Doc. 55).

         I. Background

         A. Plaintiff's Complaint

         Plaintiff filed his initial complaint in this action on February 25, 2016. (Doc. 3). In his complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendant Officer Steve Harris harassed him and placed him in isolation based on a "false disciplinary report" in April 2014. (Id. at 5). Plaintiff alleges that after his release from isolation, defendant Harris threatened to lock him up again and conducted a body search, during which he claims Harris "grab[bed] [his] testicle and squeeze[d] hard enough to cause swelling." (Id.). Plaintiff claims that he reported the incident by calling the Prison Rape Elimination Act O'PREA") hotline and defendants Miller and Smith investigated the incident, but they did not take his complaint seriously when he requested separation from defendant Harris. (See Id. at 5-7). Plaintiff alleges that for a month and a half, he was "force[d] to remain in the same location [as] Harris." (Id. at 7).

         During this time, plaintiff claims that Harris continued the harassment. (Id.). On June 4, 2014, plaintiff claims that defendant Harris ordered him to "get on [the] wall" so that he could perform a rectal exam. (Id. at 8). While handcuffed against the wall, plaintiff alleges that Harris told other guards to "kick his ass." (Id. at 8). According to plaintiff, defendant Dillow tripped him, defendant Bauer slapped him on the back of the head with his PR stick, and defendant Cooper punched him in the ribs, stomach, and upper body. (Id.). Defendants Dillow and Bauer proceeded to take plaintiff to the J2 strip cage, where plaintiff alleges Bauer sprayed him with mace and slammed his face into the wall. (Id. at 9).

         Plaintiffs complaint lists several other allegations against defendants. Plaintiff alleges that on July 14, 2015, defendants Cooper and Faye entered his cell and destroyed his personal items. (Id. at 11). Plaintiff also claims that on December 17, 2015 he received a false threat report and was placed in isolation by defendants Clark and Rogers in retaliation for his PREA complaint. (Id. at 11-12). According to plaintiff, he received a 4B security increase based on the false threat by defendants Sammons and Felts of the disciplinary board. (Id. at 12). Plaintiff also claims that defendant Felts wrote a second false report indicating that he was disruptive in the disciplinary hearing. (Id. at 13). Plaintiff further claims that defendant Greene refused to reverse the disciplinary board's ruling because he holds a grudge against plaintiff stemming from a writ of mandamus lawsuit in 2012. (Id.).

         B. Procedural History

         On April 19, 2016, this Court conducted a sua sponte review of plaintiff s complaint and concluded by Report and Recommendation that a number of plaintiff s claims could proceed against defendants Cooper, Bauer, Ison, Dillow, Felts, Davis, Sammons, Harris, Smith, Greene, Rogers, Clark, and Miller. (See Doc. 4 at 12). Plaintiff then filed a motion for leave to amend his complaint, which this Court denied on August 17, 2016. (Doc. 27). Construing plaintiffs motion for leave to amend liberally, however, the Court granted plaintiffs motion for clarification on August 17, 2016 and clarified that plaintiff could proceed with the following claims: (1) Eighth Amendment excessive force, conspiracy, and First Amendment retaliation claims against defendants Harris, Dillow, Bauer, Cooper, and Ison; (2) deliberate indifference to serious medical needs claims against defendants Miller, Ison, and Bauer; (3) failure to protect claims against defendants Smith, Miller, and Davis; and (4) First Amendment retaliation claims against defendants Clark, Rogers, Felts, Sammons, and Greene. (Id.). The Court set a discovery deadline of July 31, 2017 and stayed the October 2, 2017 dispositive motion deadline pending the resolution of this present motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Docs. 47, 58).

         II. Legal Standard

         Courts apply the same analysis to motions for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) as they apply to motions to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See Warrior Sports, Inc. v. Nat 7 Collegiate Athletic Ass % 623 F.3d 281, 284 (6th Cir. 2010). "For purposes of a motion for judgment on the pleadings, all well-pleaded material allegations of the pleadings of the opposing party must be taken as true, and the motion may be granted only if the moving party is nevertheless clearly entitled to judgment." JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Winget, 510 F.3d 577, 582 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). However, the Court need not accept as true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. Id. (citing Mixon v. Ohio, 193 F.3d 389, 400 (6th Cir. 1999)).

         To withstand a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings, "a complaint must contain direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements under some viable legal theory." Commercial Money Ctr., Inc. v. III. Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327, 336 (6th Cir. 2007). "The factual allegations in the complaint need to be sufficient to give notice to the defendant as to what claims are alleged, and the plaintiff must plead 'sufficient factual matter' to render the legal claim plausible, i.e., more than merely possible." Fritz v. Charter Twp, of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718, 722 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009)). A "legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation" need not be accepted as true, nor are recitations of the elements of a cause of action sufficient. Hens ley Mfg. v. ProPride, Inc., 579 F.3d 603, 609 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         III. Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings should be granted and plaintiffs complaint should be dismissed ...

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