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Hill v. Kohut

United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division

January 26, 2018

RICHARD HILL, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
DR. KOHUT, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          John Johnston, United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Richard Hill filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging claims of excessive use of force, denial of medical care, denial of equal protection, discrimination on the basis of race, and state law claims of medical negligence. The Court conducted a screening of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A and determined that the Complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and was subject to dismissal. Mr. Hill has now filed an amended complaint but he failed to correct the deficiencies described in the Court's prior Order. This matter should be dismissed.

         I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         A. Parties

         Mr. Hill is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel and in forma pauperis. He is currently incarcerated at Montana State Prison (“MSP”). In his Amended Complaint, he names the following Defendants: Officer Rowling, Dr. Kohut MD, P.A. Henderson, and Cathy Redfern. (Amd. Complaint, Doc. 12 at 3.)

         B. Allegations

         Mr. Hill does not provide many additional facts in his Amended Complaint. As set forth in both complaints, between December 1, 2014 and December 15, 2016, Mr. Hill was incarcerated in the MDIU unit of MSP. He is diabetic and during a time of low blood sugar he fell off his top bunk while trying to get some help. He alleges he should have never been placed on an upper bunk in light of his diabetes. He injured himself in the fall, suffering major damage to his leg and knee. In his original Complaint, he alleged that he was given surgery and four physical therapy treatments four months after his surgery.

         On February 12, 2015, Mr. Hill was on crutches and was on his way to school. As he was walking through an electronic door, Officer Rowling walked away from the control panel and Mr. Hill was shut in the door causing injury to his neck, left shoulder, and the left part of his chest near his heart. (Amd Complaint, Doc. 12 at 4-5.)

         Mr. Hill alleges in his Amended Complaint that his initial injuries were serious enough but the Court should take note of “medical staff's denial of care, failure to carry out medical recommendation for surgery and other specialized medical care and procedures for which plaintiff had received from medical professionals at the emergency room as well as the denial of medications which were also prescribed by these medical doctors. And physical therapy.” (Amd. Complaint, Doc. 12 at 5.)

         II. SCREENING

         Mr. Hill is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis so the Court must review his Amended Complaint under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A. Sections 1915A(b) and 1915(e)(2)(B) require the Court to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis and/or by a prisoner against a governmental defendant before it is served if it is frivolous or 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.

         A. Excessive Use of Force

         The Court analyzed Mr. Hill's claims regarding the February 12, 2015 incident when he was shut in the door as a claim of use of excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The core judicial inquiry in an excessive force case is “whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.” Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6-7 (1992); Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 320-21 (1986). The Court previously stated that an intentional act of shutting an inmate in an electronic door would be sufficient to state a claim for excessive force. But Mr. Hill still does not allege an intentional act. In his Amended Complaint, he only alleges that Officer Rowling negligently closed him in the block security door. (Amd. Complaint, Doc. 12-1 at 5.) “[I]njuries inflicted by governmental negligence are not addressed by the United States Constitution.” Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 333 (1986).

         As such, Mr. Hill has failed to state a federal claim of excessive use of ...


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