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White v. S. Lewandowski

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division

June 5, 2017

S. LEWANDOWSKI, Correctional Officer; JANE DOE, Nurse; and TONY CUMMINGS, Correctional Officer, Defendants.



         Plaintiff, an inmate at Augusta State Medical Prison (“ASMP”) in Grovetown, Georgia, commenced the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis, Plaintiff's complaint must be screened to protect potential defendants. Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d 782, 785 (11th Cir. 1984); Al-Amin v. Donald, 165 F. App'x 733, 736 (11th Cir. 2006).


         A. BACKGROUND

         In a complaint signed on March 28, 2017, and received by the Clerk of Court for filing on April 11, 2017, Plaintiff names the following Defendants: (1) S. Lewandowski, a correctional officer at ASMP; (2) Jane Doe, a nurse at ASMP; and (3) Tony Cummings, a correctional officer at ASMP. (See doc. no. 1, pp. 1, 4.) Taking all of Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.

         On February 20, 2015, Defendant Lewandowski came into Plaintiff's dormitory, and Plaintiff advised him that he needed to use the telephone at 7:30 a.m. (Id. at 5.) Defendant Lewandowski told Plaintiff he was the first to ask for the telephone and thus could have the phone at 7:30 a.m. (Id.) Nevertheless, another inmate got the phone first and refused to give it back to Defendant Lewandowski when requested. (Id.) Defendant Lewandowski left and returned later with a nurse, Defendant Jane Doe, to conduct the “A.M. Pill Call.” (Id.) When the two got to Plaintiff's cell, he stuck his hand out the flap to his door to get his pills, but also began to address Defendant Lewandowski about the earlier phone issue. (Id.)

         Defendant Lewandowski grabbed Plaintiff's wrist and threatened to hurt him. (Id. at 6.) As the officer began to twist and bend Plaintiff's left arm, Plaintiff put his right hand out of the tray flap in attempt to free his wrist from Defendant Lewandowski. (Id.) Then the nurse conducting pill call grabbed Plaintiff's right arm and began pulling, twisting, and bending it. (Id.) When the two stopped twisting his arms and walked away, Plaintiff noticed blood dripping from a cut near his left elbow. (Id.)

         As the tray flap had not been re-secured, Plaintiff began yelling after Defendant Lewandowski that he needed to go to the medical department. (Id.) The officer, and several others who came through the dormitory after the encounter, re-secured the tray flap but ignored Plaintiff's entreaties for medical treatment for the cut on his elbow. (Id. at 6-7.) Plaintiff was eventually taken to the showers, but not to the medical department. (Id. at 7.)

         Later that same afternoon, a mental health counselor came through the dormitory, and when Plaintiff told her what had happened with Defendant Lewandowski and the pill call nurse, she had officers in the dormitory open the tray flap on Plaintiff's door. (Id.) Defendant Cummings and the nurse were in the dormitory at the time the mental health counselor had the tray flap opened and expressed her intention to report the incident to a lieutenant. (Id.) Approximately half an hour later, Defendants Cummings and Lewandowski returned to Plaintiff's cell “and initiated further assault.” (Id. at 8.)

         Defendant Cummings sprayed Plaintiff with pepper spray and slammed Plaintiff's left arm in tray flap while also twisting, pulling, and kicking the arm. (Id.) Defendant Lewandowski joined the fray by grabbing Plaintiff's right hand, and then Defendant Cummings again discharged his pepper spray through the tray flap before re-securing it and leaving. (Id.) Plaintiff was not taken to the medical department until the next day, February 21, 2015. (Id.)

         Plaintiff attached numerous written statements concerning the events of February 20, 2015, with the first one dated February 21, 2015. (Id. at 11.) On February 22, 2015, Plaintiff signed his grievance regarding the events of February 20th. (Id. at 29.) The grievance was forwarded the Georgia Department of Corrections Internal Investigation Unit (“IIU”) due to the nature of Plaintiff's allegations, a non-appealable decision that closed Plaintiff's grievance, and a memorandum explaining this procedure was prepared. (Id. at 30, 35.) On March 30, 2015, Plaintiff acknowledged receipt of the Warden's response to his grievance, which again explained the matter had been forwarded to the IIU. (Id. at 28, 33.) Plaintiff also attached letters he wrote on March 24 and April 8, 2015, detailing that he had been interviewed by an IIU investigator, Ms. Platt, on March 16, 2015. (Id. at 17-21.)

         At some point thereafter, Plaintiff transferred to Georgia State Prison, but returned to ASMP on September 9, 2016. (Id. at 22.) Upon his return, he saw two of the three named Defendants still working at ASMP. (Id. at 23.) Plaintiff wrote a letter on December 10, 2016, complaining that he never received any results from the IIU about his prior encounter with Defendants on February 20, 2015, and warning of his intention to file this lawsuit. (Id. at 22-23, 37-38.) Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages from all three Defendants. (Id. at 9-10.)

         B. DISCUSSION

         1. Legal ...

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