United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Simon CHIEF JUDGE.
Irby, a pro se prisoner, submitted a complaint
alleging that he was provided with deficient medical care
while housed at the Indiana State Prison. (DE 1.) Pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I must review a prisoner complaint
and dismiss it if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief. Under federal pleadings standards, the plaintiff
“must do better than putting a few words on paper that,
in the hands of an imaginative reader, might suggest
that something has happened to [him] that might be
redressed by the law.” Swanson v. Citibank,
N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th Cir. 2010) (emphasis in
original) (citations omitted). Instead, the plaintiff must
provide sufficient factual matter to state a claim that is
plausible on its face. Ray v. City of Chicago, 629
F.3d 660, 662-63 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted).
alleges that on September 11, 2015, he got into an
altercation with another inmate and, as a result, one of his
fingertips was severed. (DE 1 at 5.) He informed Officer Bass
about his injury. (Id.) Officer Bass quickly placed
the finger tip in a moist paper towel and put it in a bag of
ice, and Irby was then seen by Nurse Sue Whelm who had Irby
taken to an outside hospital. (Id.) At the hospital,
the doctors informed Irby that his finger tip could not be
reattached because it was put directly on ice, which damaged
the nerves. (Id.) Irby alleges that Superintendent
Ron Neal, Nurse Sue Whelm, Officer Bass, and Indiana
Department of Correction Commissioner Bruce Lemmon were
negligent in failing to preserve his severed finger, and he
seeks money damages. (Id.)
cases involving the provision of medical care to prisoners,
the United States Constitution is violated only when a
defendant was deliberately indifferent to an inmate's
serious medical needs. Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d
1364, 1369 (7th Cir. 1997). “[C]onduct is deliberately
indifferent when the official has acted in an intentional or
criminally reckless manner, i.e., . . . [knew] that
the plaintiff was at serious risk of being harmed and decided
not to do anything to prevent that harm from occurring even
though he could have easily done so.” Board v.
Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 478 (7th Cir. 2005) (internal
quotation marks, brackets, and citation omitted). It is not
enough to show that a defendant failed to act reasonably or
was negligent. Gibbs v. Franklin, 49 F.3d 1206, 1208
(7th Cir. 1995); Walker v. Peters, 233 F.3d 494, 499
(7th Cir. 2000). Instead, the official must have
“actually [known] of a substantial risk of serious harm
and consciously disregarded it nonetheless.”
Pierson v. Hartley, 391 F.3d 898, 902 (7th Cir.
2004) (citation omitted).
standard for medical professionals is virtually the same.
“For a medical professional to be liable for deliberate
indifference to an inmate's medical needs, he must make a
decision that represents such a substantial departure from
accepted professional judgment, practice, or standards, as to
demonstrate that the person responsible actually did not base
the decision on such a judgment.” Jackson v.
Kotter, 541 F.3d 688, 697 (7th Cir. 2008) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted).
Irby has not alleged facts showing deliberate indifference by
anyone and therefore has not alleged a constitutional claim.
He admits he was immediately attended to by Officer Bass and
Nurse Whelm, who quickly sent him to an outside hospital for
treatment. (DE 1 at 5.) Although he claims that medical
personnel were negligent in failing to specify the proper
procedure for preserving Irby's severed fingertip, Irby
has not pleaded facts that even remotely suggest that any of
the defendants acted with the deliberate indifference
required to make out a constitutional claim.
he had, Irby's official capacity claims against
Superintendent Neal and Commissioner Lemmon would fail to
state a viable claim for the additional reason that suits
against state actors in their official capacities must allege
the existence of an unconstitutional official policy and
practice. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs.,
436 U.S. 658 (1978). Irby's complaint contains no
allegations of such a policy or practice.
the shortcomings in Irby's current complaint, he may file
an amended complaint if he thinks that he can plausibly
allege a constitutional claim. See Luevano v.
Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014, 1024 (7th Cir. 2013). If he
decides to do so, he should get a blank copy of this
court's complaint form from the law library and write the
cause number for this case in the caption on the first page.
In the amended complaint, Irby should be sure to address the
deficiencies noted in this order, and he should explain in
his own words what happened, when it happened, and where it
happened, providing as much detail as possible.
Freeman Irby is GRANTED until January 9, 2017, to
file an amended complaint and is CAUTIONED failure to file an
amended complaint by that date will result in dismissal of
this case ...