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Unthank v. Beavers

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah

July 19, 2019

ERIC UNTHANK PLAINTIFF
v.
JAMES BEAVERS et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          THOMAS B. RUSSELL, SENIOR JUDGE

         Plaintiff Eric Unthank filed the instant pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action proceeding in forma pauperis. Plaintiff also filed an amended complaint (DN 6), which Plaintiff states is a typed copy of his original handwritten complaint. The Court construes the filing as a motion to amend the complaint. He subsequently filed a motion to amend the complaint (DN 8), in which he identifies the names of two Defendants whom he named as “Jane Does” in the original complaint and adds a new Defendant, Cody Edmonds. Upon review, IT IS ORDERED that the motions to amend the complaint (DNs 6 and 8) are GRANTED. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2).

         The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to substitute Cassandra Moore for Jane Doe 1 in the docket sheet and to substitute Terri Sexton for Jane Doe 2 in the docket sheet. The Clerk is further DIRECTED to add Cody Edmonds as a Defendant in the docket sheet.

         This matter is before the Court upon initial review of the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons stated below, the Court will dismiss some of Plaintiff's claims and allow other claims to proceed for further development.

         I. SUMMARY OF FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS[1]

         Plaintiff is a convicted inmate at the Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP). He names the following KSP personnel as Defendants: James Beavers, identified as an “Internal Affairs Coordinator (Retired)”; Seth Mitchell, an “Internal Affair Lieutenant”; Richard Moore, Neil Gardner, and Cody Edmonds, correctional officers; Steven Birdsong, a sergeant; Garyth Thompson, a major. He also sues Cassandra Moore and Terri Sexton, whom he states are nurses “contracted through WellPath formerly Correct Care Solutions” and Karen Ramey, a nurse practitioner also contracted through WellPath. He sues all Defendants in their individual capacities only, with the exception of Defendants Thompson and Ramey, whom he sues in both their individual and official capacities.

         Plaintiff states that on February 21, 2018, there was a “disturbance” in the KSP library and the prison was put under lockdown. According to Plaintiff, approximately five minutes later, he was standing in front of his cell when he was approached by officers and ordered to “cuff up.” Plaintiff states that he “complied with all orders and was placed in metal handcuffs and metal leg restraints and was then proceeded to be lead by officers off the walk to Restricted Housing Unit as a suspected participant in the disturbance in the library, where staff members were assaulted.”

         Under the heading “Excessive Use of Force, ” Plaintiff asserts that he “was following orders and was totally compliant when Defendants James Beavers and Neil Gardner laced their hands/arms through the Plaintiffs arms, bent the plaintiff over at the waist into a totally defenseless position. While Defendant Seth Mitchell initiated the all too familiar chant of ‘stop resisting.'” He further describes the incident as follows:

[] While exiting the 3rd floor of 5 cell house in a totally compliant and defenseless position only utilized for staff assaults, Defendant James Beavers rammed the Plaintiffs head into the steel framing for the security gate. While still compliant and in a defenseless position and at the mercy of the Defendants Beavers, Gardner and Mitchell, Plaintiff was lead down five flights of stairs forcefully, while Defendant Mitchell continued to scream “stop resisting.”
[] On the side walk between 5 cell house and 4 cell house, Defendant Mitchell stated, “Let me get some!” Defendants Mitchell and Beavers traded places in the escort to 3 cell house recreation cages. Outside of 4 cell house on the service access to the recreation yard, the Plaintiff was force walked “still in leg restraints, still bent over in a defenseless position” at a very fast pace to where the Plaintiff could not keep up. Defendants Mitchell and Gardner forced the Plaintiff face first to the ground. Defendant Mitchell then dropped his knee into the Plaintiffs back causing the left hand cuff to further tighten and causing significant damage to the Plaintiffs left wrist.
[] While following orders attempting to stand Defendant Gardner used his closed fist in an upper cut motion to help the Plaintiff to stand. The Plaintiff was then escorted to 3 cell house recreation cages, where the Plaintiff was compliant to all orders given.
[] While standing in handcuffs and leg restraints inside of the recreation cage, Defendants Beavers and Mitchell started making comments towards the Plaintiffs notoriety in front of another inmate seeking to defame and intentionally cause potential danger to the Plaintiff, during which multiple unidentified officers witnessed these actions.
[] While being removed from 3 cell house recreation cages to be escorted to the 7 cell house restricted housing unit, the Plaintiff was following all orders given. Defendants Gardner and Richard Moore laced their arms through the Plaintiffs again bending the Plaintiff over causing unnecessary strain on the Plaintiffs shoulders, back and wrists.

         Plaintiff maintains that during the escort, Defendant Birdsong “witnessed the unnecessary use of force, and as a supervisor failed to intervene, while Defendants Edmonds and Moore drug the Plaintiff and used the Plaintiff's shirt to choke the Plaintiff almost into unconsciousness.” He also states, “In the beginning, middle and end of this escort the Plaintiff was complying with all orders given as video evidence will support and the use of force was unnecessary and was deliberate to seek lynch mob justice. This type of escort is only reserved for alleged assaults on staff.”

         Under the heading “Denial of Medical Care, ” Plaintiff states, “During the escort, the Plaintiff told both Defendants Edmonds and R. Moore, ‘that they had broke the Plaintiffs wrist.' Defendants then stated, ‘Good.'” According to Plaintiff, he also told Defendant Cassandra Moore about the injuries he sustained. He states, “Defendant C. Moore failed to acknowledge the injuries and then put in her report, no injuries were present.” Plaintiff states that he was placed into 7 cell house and “then stripped of all clothing except for his boxer shorts, no blankets or a cup to drink water for two and a half days and was refused any and all materials to file grievances on Medical issues.” He continues that after two weeks he was able to put in a sick call request, but he states that by that time, the injuries to his knees and chin and “bruising throughout his body” had healed. He states, “The Plaintiff was deliberately kept secluded until his injuries were healed and was unable to file any grievance process.”

         Under the heading “Negligence, ” Plaintiff states, “During the sick call appointment, Defendant Terri Sexton did NOT even evaluate claims of the injuries sustained to left wrist and arm, and passed it off as nerve damage without inspecting the left wrist and arm.” He reports that he was referred to the nurse practitioner, Defendant Ramey, “who then had done nothing, but re-iterate the nerve damage, stating, ‘it could take several months or even never heal.' All without even inspecting Plaintiffs wrist or ...


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