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Lynn v. Sherwood

United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division

September 4, 2014

JAMES LYNN, Plaintiff,
v.
SHERIFF JEFFREY SHERWOOD, et al., Defendants.

ENTRY DISCUSSING AMENDED COMPLAINT, DISMISSING CERTAIN CLAIMS AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

HON. TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

I.

A.

Plaintiff James Lynn, a prisoner at the Correctional Industrial Facility, alleges that while confined at the Rush County Jail, in Rush County, Indiana, defendants violated his federally secured rights. His amended complaint is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and his claims are the following:

1. He was “denied adequate meals from April 2, 2013 through April 7, 2013.”
2. He was “denied access to the courts and/or research materials off and on from January 11 2013 to June 10, 2013.”
3. He was “denied adequate and immediate medical care following this incident [slipping and falling on water that had accumulated] from April 5, 2013 to April 6, 2013.”
4. He was denied equal protection of the law.

Lynn seeks compensatory and punitive damages and requests that criminal charges be brought against all officers involved.

B.

The amended complaint is subject to the screening required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). This statute directs that the court dismiss a complaint or any claim within a complaint which “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id.; see Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). A complaint is sufficient only to the extent that it “contain[s] either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1969 (2007) (quoting Car Carriers, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 745 F .2d 1101, 1106 (7th Cir. 1984)). The court construes the amended complaint to name the following as defendants: Rush County Sheriff Jeffrey Sherwood, Rush County, Rush County Sheriff’s Department, Matthew Hedrich, Ryan Morrow and Christopher Reynolds. The plaintiff shall have 21 days in which to identify any contrary understanding and explain the basis for any contrary understanding.

C.

Lynn's federal claims are viable only if he has asserted the violation of a federal right. See Middlesex County Sewage Auth. v. Nat'l Sea Clammers Ass'n, 453 U.S. 1, 19 (1981); Juriss v. McGowan, 957 F.2d 345, 349 n.1 (7th Cir. 1992) (without a predicate constitutional violation one cannot make out a prima facie case under § 1983). The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits all punishment of pretrial detainees, but “not every disability imposed during pretrial detention amounts to punishment in the constitutional sense.” Id. at 449 (internal quotation omitted). The issue is “whether a particular action was taken for the purpose of punishment or whether it is but an incident of some other legitimate governmental purpose.” Id. (internal quotation omitted). For the reasons set forth below, the conduct Lynn alleges is not actionable under § 1983.

Rush County and Rush County Sheriff’s Department are dismissed. Rush County and the Rush County Sheriff’s Department are named as defendants. Although as a municipality Rush County and the Rush County Sheriff’s Department are “persons” subject to suit under § 1983, each can be held liable under § 1983 only if it has adopted a “policy or custom” that resulted in the deprivation of the plaintiff's constitutional rights. Bennett v. Roberts, 295 F.3d 687, 699 (7th Cir. 2002) (citing Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978)). “[I]t is when execution of a government's policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy, inflicts the injury that the government as an entity is responsible under § 1983.” Monell, 436 U.S. at 694. No allegation of such a ...


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