United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Stephanie K. Bowman United States Magistrate Judge
a prisoner at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF),
filed a pro se civil rights complaint in this Court against
defendants Warden Ron Erdos, RN Janis Reiner, C/O Fri, C/O
Dunlap, Deputy Warden Cool, Lieutenant Kaut, Lieutenant Esham
and Sergeant Payne. (Doc. 1, Complaint at PageID 12). By
separate Order, plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed
in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court
for a sua sponte review of the complaint to
determine whether the complaint or any portion of it, should
be dismissed because it is frivolous, malicious, fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. See Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995
§ 804, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); § 805, 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
enacting the original in forma pauperis statute,
Congress recognized that a “litigant whose filing fees
and court costs are assumed by the public, unlike a paying
litigant, lacks an economic incentive to refrain from filing
frivolous, malicious, or repetitive lawsuits.”
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992) (quoting
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989)). To
prevent such abusive litigation, Congress has authorized
federal courts to dismiss an in forma pauperis
complaint if they are satisfied that the action is frivolous
or malicious. Id.; see also 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and 1915A(b)(1). A complaint
may be dismissed as frivolous when the plaintiff cannot make
any claim with a rational or arguable basis in fact or law.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328-29 (1989);
see also Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d 1196, 1198
(6th Cir. 1990). An action has no arguable legal basis when
the defendant is immune from suit or when plaintiff claims a
violation of a legal interest which clearly does not exist.
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. An action has no arguable
factual basis when the allegations are delusional or rise to
the level of the irrational or “wholly
incredible.” Denton, 504 U.S. at 32;
Lawler, 898 F.2d at 1199. The Court need not accept
as true factual allegations that are “fantastic or
delusional” in reviewing a complaint for frivolousness.
Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 471 (6th Cir. 2010)
(quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 328).
also has authorized the sua sponte dismissal of
complaints that fail to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 (e)(2)(B)(ii) and
1915A(b)(1). A complaint filed by a pro se plaintiff
must be “liberally construed” and “held to
less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (per curiam) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). By the same token, however, the
complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007));
see also Hill, 630 F.3d at 470-71 (“dismissal
standard articulated in Iqbal and Twombly
governs dismissals for failure to state a claim” under
§§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)).
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The Court must accept all
well-pleaded factual allegations as true, but need not
“accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting
Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).
Although a complaint need not contain “detailed factual
allegations, ” it must provide “more than an
accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A pleading that offers
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Nor does a
complaint suffice if it tenders “naked
assertion[s]” devoid of “further factual
enhancement.” Id. at 557. The complaint must
“give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (citations omitted).
complaint, plaintiff first alleges that he was denied mental
health treatment. Plaintiff alleges that on January 1, 2018
he approached defendants C/O Dunlap and C/O Fri to notify
them of his suicidal feelings. (Doc. 1, Complaint at PageID
13). Plaintiff alleges that he reminded Dunlap and Fri
multiple times that he is a mental health patient.
(Id.). Nevertheless, plaintiff claims that they
ignored his requests for assistance. (Id.).
Plaintiff was subsequently stripped and escorted to his cell,
where he proceeded to hang himself. (Id.). According
to plaintiff, Dunlap and Fri were rushed to his cell where
they cut plaintiff down and cuffed him from behind.
alleges that defendants Dunlap, Fri, and Lieutenant Kaut
subsequently used excessive force against him.
(Id.). Plaintiff claims that once Dunlap and Fri
came to his cell, they handcuffed him, bent his wrist upward,
and tried to bend his pinky finger. (Id.). After
plaintiff explained that he would write up Dunlap and
Fri's abuse, plaintiff alleges that defendant Kaut told
him to “shut up” and “haled [him] to the
floor” in front of defendant Warden Cool. (Id.
at PageID 14). Defendant Kaut then struck plaintiff in the
head with his elbow and proceeded to “use excessive
force on [his] wrist all the to the infirmary (sic).” (
Id. at PageID 14). Plaintiff further alleges that
Cool was present during the incident and failed to intervene
or otherwise protect him. According to plaintiff, he nearly
fainted and, consequently, other officers had to carry him up
to the infirmary exam room. (Id.).
the infirmary, plaintiff alleges that Kaut and defendant
Lieutenant Esham punched plaintiff in the head and slapped
his face multiple times. (Id.). He further alleges
that multiple officers, as well as defendant RN Janis Reiner,
were present and witnessed the assault. Plaintiff claims that
he was put on suicide watch following the incident, but was
otherwise denied medical treatment for his wrists, which he
claims were bleeding, swollen, and limp/numb. (Id.
at PageID 14-15).
next claims that he was escorted “upstairs to D1 of the
Infirmary” by Kaut, Esham, and another officer.
(Id. at PageID 15). He claims he was ordered to face
the back wall of the elevator. After complying with the
order, plaintiff alleges that Kaut struck him in the back
with a PR-24 stick. (Id.). According to plaintiff,
he turned around and Kaut jabbed him several more times in
the ribs with the PR-24 stick. (Id.). Plaintiff
claims that Kaut stated that he wished plaintiff would have
killed himself and referred to him using a racial slur.
(Id.). Finally, as plaintiff was exiting the
elevator, he claims that defendant Kaut punched him in the
face and continued to threaten him. (Id.).
relief, plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive
relief. (Id. at PageID 16).
stage in the proceedings, without the benefit of briefing by
the parties to this action, the undersigned concludes that
plaintiff may proceed with his Eighth Amendment claims
against defendants Dunlap, Fri, and Reiner, based on his
allegations that these defendants denied him medical
treatment. Plaintiff may also proceed with his excessive
force and/or failure to protect claims against defendants
Dunlap, Fri, Kaut, Esham, and Cool. However, plaintiff's
remaining claims should be dismissed. See 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A(b).
initial matter, plaintiff includes no factual allegations
against defendants Warden Erdos and Sergeant Payne. The
complaint should therefore be dismissed as to these
complaint should also be dismissed as to all defendants in
their official capacities to the extent that plaintiff seeks
money damages. Absent an express waiver, a state is immune
from damage suits under the Eleventh Amendment. P.R.
Aqueduct & Sewer Auth. v. Metcalf & Eddy, 506
U.S. 139 (1993); Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651
(1974). The State of Ohio has not constitutionally nor
statutorily waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity in the
federal courts. See Johns v. Supreme Court of Ohio,
753 F.2d 524 (6th Cir. 1985); State of Ohio v. Madeline
Marie Nursing Homes, 694 F.2d 449 (6th Cir. 1982). The
Eleventh Amendment bar extends to actions where the state is
not a named party, but where the action is essentially one
for the recovery of money from the state. Edelman,
415 U.S. at 663; Ford Motor Company v. Dept. of
Treasury, 323 U.S. 459, 464 (1945). A suit against
defendants in their official capacities would, in reality, be
a way of pleading the action against the entity of which
defendants are agents. Monell, 436 U.S. at 690.
Thus, actions against state officials in their official
capacities are included in this bar. Will v. Michigan
Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 70-71 (1989);
Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232 (1974). See also
Colvin v. Caruso, 605 F.3d 282, 289 (6th Cir. 2010)
(citing Cady v. Arenac Co., 574 F.3d 334, 344 (6th
Cir. 2009) ...