United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
ROBERT L. PEACHER, Plaintiff,
GEORGE PAYNE, MARK SEVIER, DR. TAYLOR, AND DR. EICHMAN, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT
L. Peacher, a prisoner proceeding pro se, filed an amended
complaint [ECF No. 28], alleging that he has been
psychologically unable to eat the food served to him by
prison officials since June 23, 2016, when he was transferred
to the Westville Correctional Facility. He alleges that he
can only eat food that is served in a factory sealed
container because he is afraid that guards might have
poisoned food prepared in the prison. He alleges that he is
not receiving mental health treatment for this disorder and
is starving. He states that there is very little food that he
is able to eat. He denies that he is on a hunger strike or
that he is voluntarily starving himself in an attempt to
manipulate officials to transfer him to a different prison.
He alleges that because of his mental illness, he is
sincerely unable to eat the food they are providing. He
alleges that he has not been properly diagnosed or treated
for his mental illness. He is seeking both monetary damages
and injunctive relief.
document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro
se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to
less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers . . . .” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007). Nevertheless, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A, this court must review the complaint and dismiss it if
the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim,
or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune
from such relief. “In order to state a claim under [42
U.S.C.] § 1983 a plaintiff must allege: (1) that
defendants deprived him of a federal constitutional right;
and (2) that the defendants acted under color of state
law.” Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th
Eighth Amendment requires that prison officials ensure that
inmates receive adequate food, clothing, and shelter.
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). The
Eighth Amendment is violated when a defendant is deliberately
indifferent to an inmate's serious medical needs.
“[C]onduct is deliberately indifferent when the
official has acted in an intentional or criminally reckless
manner, i.e., the defendant must have known 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) (quotation
marks, brackets, and citation omitted). However, “[a]
layperson's failure to tell the medical staff how to do
its job cannot be called deliberate indifference . . .
.” Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 596 (7th
Peacher is suing two medical and two non-medical defendants.
He alleges that he has not been properly diagnosed and
treated. Nevertheless, he is under the care of two
physicians. Neither have diagnosed him as being unable to eat
unsealed food. Neither have diagnosed him as suffering
physical injury as result of his weight loss. As a result,
the non-medical defendants cannot be deliberately indifferent
for not feeding him a special diet merely because he demands
it. Therefore the monetary damages claims against George
Payne and Mark Sevier will be dismissed.
the two doctor defendants, “[f]or 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) (quotation
marks and citations omitted). A “disagreement with
medical professionals [does not] state a cognizable Eighth
Amendment Claim under the deliberate indifference standard of
Estelle v. Gamble [429 U.S. 97 (1976)].”
Ciarpaglini v. Saini, 352 F.3d 328, 331 (7th Cir.
Peacher clearly disagrees with his doctors and wants to be
transferred to a different prison. He reports mental health
symptoms to them, but they do not agree that he is unable to
eat the food provided by prison officials. He wants treatment
for undiagnosed mental health conditions. He has lost weight,
but they have not diagnosed him with any physical injury as a
result. It is unclear whether there is anything more to this
case than a disagreement over how to respond to his
behavioral problems in the prison. However, that is not a
question that can be resolved at the pleading stage.
Therefore Peacher will be allowed to proceed on a claim for
compensatory and punitive damages against Dr. Taylor and Dr.
addition to monetary damages for past Constitutional
violations, Peacher is also asking for a permanent injunction
requiring that he receive mental health treatment for PTSD,
panic disorders, delusion disorder, and OCD. He also wants to
never be housed in the Westville or Wabash Valley
The PLRA circumscribes the scope of the court's authority
to enter an injunction in the corrections context. Where
prison conditions are found to violate federal rights,
remedial injunctive relief must be narrowly drawn, extend no
further than necessary to correct the violation of the
Federal right, and use the least intrusive means necessary to
correct the violation of the Federal right. This section of
the PLRA enforces a point repeatedly made by the Supreme
Court in cases challenging prison conditions: Prison
officials have broad administrative and discretionary
authority over the institutions they manage.
Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d 679 (7th Cir. 2012)
(quotation marks, brackets, and citations omitted). However,
“[u]nder the Eighth Amendment, [a prisoner] is not
entitled to demand specific care [nor] entitled to the best
care possible.” Forbes v. Edgar, 112 F.3d 262,
267 (7th Cir. 1997). Moreover, the specific requests made by
Preacher go well beyond what the PLRA permits. Nevertheless,
he may be able to demonstrate that he is entitled to a
narrowly tailored injunction limited to requiring that he
receive medical care as required by the Eighth Amendment.
these reasons, the Court:
GRANTS Robert L. Peacher leave to proceed against Dr. Taylor
and Dr. Eichman in their individual capacities for
compensatory and punitive damages for denying him adequate
medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment;
GRANTS Robert L. Peacher leave to proceed against Mark Sevier
in his official capacity for injunctive ...