United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON STATE DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON
William T. Lawrence, Judge
cause is before the Court on the motion for judgment on the
pleadings filed by the State Defendants: Bruce Lemmon; Jackie
Helderman, II; Stanley Knight; Lieutenant Wiggins;
Hartsock; Paul Hoskins; Beau Michael Judd; John
Murry; C. Penfold; Tim Phegley; Ty Robbins; Sgt. R. Myers;
Scott Rogers; Quentin Storm; Linda Vannatta; Chris Williams;
Wilson. Dkt. No. 20. The motion is
fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS IN
PART AND DENIES IN PART the motion for the reasons set forth
reviewing a motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), the Court applies the
same standard that is applied when reviewing a motion to
dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Pisciotta v. Old
Nat'l Bancorp., 499 F.3d 629, 633 (7th Cir. 2007).
The Court “must accept all well pled facts as true and
draw all permissible inferences in favor of the
plaintiff.” Agnew v. National Collegiate Athletic
Ass'n, 683 F.3d 328, 334 (7th Cir. 2012). For a
claim to survive the motion for judgment on the pleadings, it
must provide the defendant with “fair notice of what
the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th
Cir. 2009) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
93 (2007)) (omission in original). A complaint must
“contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true,
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Agnew, 638 F.3d at 334 (citations
omitted). A complaint's factual allegations are plausible
if they “raise the right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007).
Plaintiff, Dylan Sinn, has filed a lawsuit against several
employees of the Indiana Department of Correction
(“IDOC”). For purposes of this motion, the Court
accepts the following well-pleaded allegations as true.
was in the custody of the IDOC from June 2011 until he was
released on February 6, 2015. In June 2013, Sinn was
transferred from Pendleton Correctional Facility to
Putnamville Correctional Facility. While in Putnamville, he
was housed in various dormitories, including 11 South and 18
South. Each dormitory houses approximately 150 inmates and
has one correctional officer to monitor activities after 4
April 24, 2014, Sinn was robbed of personal property and
assaulted by several black inmates. Sinn believes that the
people who assaulted him are members of the Vice Lords, a
criminal prison gang. One correctional officer was assigned
to 11 South at the time Sinn was assaulted. The officer
sounded an alert, but no assistance arrived until several
minutes later. Sergeant Scott Rogers and C.O. Paul Hoskins
responded with additional officers. They moved Sinn to 18
South but did not segregate the attackers. Rogers and Hoskins
viewed the video recording and considered what to do before
taking Sinn to 18 South. Sinn heard the correctional officers
who viewed the video state that it was too close to shift
change to deal with all that, which he took to mean that
because there were several black inmates who were seen on the
video and could be identified, the officers did not want to
expend additional time and effort before their shift ended to
address the incident.
the first attack, Sinn was beaten up but not seriously
injured. Two other white inmates were also attacked, and they
were also moved. Despite being moved, the other two inmates
were attacked again by black gang members a few days later.
Sinn alerted the administration and unit staff that he was
afraid for his safety.
April 30, 2014, Sinn was again assaulted by black inmates. He
believes that the people who attacked him were members of the
Vice Lords. They forced him into the shower area and severely
beat him. Sinn's leg was broken in two places, and he
also suffered a fractured jaw, a broken nose, and several
contusions to his face and body. Sinn was taken by ambulance
to a hospital and then transferred to a different hospital,
where he underwent two surgeries. During the April 30 attack,
only one guard was assigned to Dorm 18 South. This attack was
also video recorded.
alleges that there is a systemic problem of understaffing at
the DOC facility in Plainfield, and this understaffing is due
to a statewide policy of understaffing prisons to save money.
Sinn alleges that gangs, especially “black gangs, act
with little consequence to steal, assault, subjugate, and
dominate individual inmates-most frequently white
inmates.” Dkt. No. 1-2 at 25.
Section 1983 claim is based on his assertion that the
Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth, Fourth, and
Fourteenth Amendments by imposing cruel and unusual
punishment. The Complaint indicates that the following
Defendants are sued in both their official and individual
capacities: Lemmon, Knight, Phegley, Hartsock, Vannatta, and
D. Wilson. The complaint indicates that the following
Defendants are sued only in their individual capacities: D.
Wilson, Quentin Storm, Chris Williams, Jackie Helderman II,
John Brush, John Murry, Sgt. Scott Rogers, Paul Hoskins, Beau
Michael Judd, R. Myers, Ty Robbins, Lt. Wiggins, and C.
Sinn's Claims Against Defendants in Their Official
seeks both monetary damages and a declaratory judgment. The
Eleventh Amendment generally precludes a citizen from suing a
state or one of its agencies or departments for money damages
in federal court. Wynn v. Southward, 251 F.3d 588,
592 (7th Cir. 2001); Moore v. Indiana, 999 F.2d
1125, 1128 (7th Cir. 1993) (quoting Pennhurst State Sch.
& Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984)).
Moreover, “[t]his bar remains in effect when State
officials are sued for damages in their official capacity . .
. [as] a judgment against a public servant in his official
capacity imposes liability on the entity that he
represents.” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159,
169 (1985) (quotations and citations omitted).
a state agency. Wynn, 251 F.3d at 592. There are
three exceptions to Eleventh Amendment immunity: (1) suits
against state officials seeking prospective equitable relief
for ongoing violations of federal law are not barred by the
Eleventh Amendment; (2) individuals may sue a state directly
if Congress has abrogated the state's immunity from suit;
and (3) individuals may sue the state if the state waived its
sovereign immunity and consented to suit in federal court.
MCI Telecommunications Corp. v. Ill. Commerce
Comm'n, 183 F.3d 558, 563 (7th Cir. 1999) (citing
Marie O. v. Edgar, 131 F.3d 610 (7th Cir.
has not consented to this suit. Nor did Congress abrogate the
State's immunity through the enactment of Section 1983.
See Joseph v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Wis. Sys.,
432 F.3d 746, 748 (7th Cir. 2005). As such, the Eleventh
Amendment bars Sinn's Section 1983 claim for money
damages against the Defendants in their official capacity.
See Wynn, 251 F.3d at 592 (finding that IDOC is a
state agency and thus is immune from suit in federal court
for money damages).
also seeks a declaratory judgment against Defendants Lemmon,
Knight, Phegley, Hartsock and Vannatta, in their official
capacities,  alleging that “the current practice
of understaffing the prison facility at Plainfield” is
“unconstitutional and/or negligent, causing or leading
to the inevitable and foreseeable suffering and injury of
inmates from other inmate ...