United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DISCUSSING MOTION TO DISMISS
William T. Lawrence, Judge
Robert Seal is a prisoner incarcerated at the Indiana State
Prison. He brings this complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 alleging that his rights were violated while he was a
pretrial detainee at the Madison County Jail. Because Seal is
a “prisoner” as defined by 28 U.S.C. §
1915(h), this Court screened his complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b) and permitted the following claims to
proceed: (1) the claim all of the defendants violated that
his rights under Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act (“RLUIPA”) when he was not provided
with a halal diet; and (2) his claims that defendants Ronald
Richardson, Andy Williams, and Michelle Sumpter violated his
First Amendment rights. The First Amendment claim against
Madison County (the “County”) was dismissed
because there is no allegation that the First Amendment
violation was the result of a widespread county practice or
policy. The defendants now seek dismissal of a number of
claims that the Court permitted to proceed. For the reasons
that follow, the motion to dismiss [dkt 17] is granted in
part and denied in part.
purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the
complaint, not the merits of the suit. Triad Assocs.,
Inc. v. Chi. Hous. Auth., 892 F.2d 583, 586 (7th Cir.
1989). The standard for assessing the procedural sufficiency
of pleadings is imposed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
8(a)(2), which requires “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Thus, although the complaint need not recite
“detailed factual allegations, ” it must state
enough facts that, when accepted as true, “state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570
(2007). A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff
pleads facts sufficient for the Court to infer that the
defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The
Twombly/Iqbal standard “is not akin to a
‘probability requirement', but it asks for more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). By comparison, a complaint that merely contains
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action” does
not satisfy the factual plausibility standard.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court views the complaint
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepting all
well-pleaded factual allegations as true and drawing all
reasonable inferences from those allegations in favor of the
plaintiff. Lee v. City of Chi., 330 F.3d 456, 459
(7th Cir. 2003). Pro se complaints such as that filed by the
plaintiff are construed liberally and held to a less
stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.
Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 491 n.2
(7th Cir. 2008). Additionally, the Court may not rely upon
evidence and facts outside of those alleged in the complaint
in ruling on a motion to dismiss.
discussed below, the defendants seek partial dismissal of
Seal's RLUIPA and First Amendment claims.
the defendants seek dismissal of Seal's RLUIPA claims
against Madison County and against the defendants in their
individual and official capacities.
the County seeks dismissal of the RLUIPA claim against it
because the County does not maintain custody and control of
the Jail. Indiana Code § 36-2-2-24(a) states the county
executive is responsible for establishing and maintaining a
county jail. But the term “maintain” imposes only
a duty on the board of commissioners to keep the county jail
in repair. Weatherholt v. Spencer County, 639 N.E.2d
354, 356 (Ind.Ct.App. 1994). “Once the county
establishes and then reasonably maintains the jail, it is not
responsible for administering the manner of an inmate's
incarceration.” Id. at 356. Instead, the Jail
is under the supervision of the county sheriff, not the
county's board of commissioners. Ind. Code §
36-2-13-5(a)(7) (“the sheriff shall…take care of
the county jail and the prisoners there.”). Hooper
v. Lain, 2015 WL 1942791, at *3-4 (N.D. Ind. 2015)
(Indiana law does not create a duty of care on the part of
the county to any particular inmate). Because the sheriff is
in charge of the Jail, not Madison County itself, it cannot
be held liable for actions that took place there.
Accordingly, Seal's claims against Madison County must be
Williams and Sumpter move for dismissal of the RLUIPA claims
against them because RLUIPA does not allow suits against
prison staff in their individual capacities. Nelson v.
Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 889 (7th Cir. 2009);
Vinning-El v. Evans, 657 F.3d 591, 592 (7th Cir.
2011) (“RLUIPA does not authorize any kind of relief
against public employees, as opposed to governmental bodies
that receive federal funds…”). Williams' and
Sumpter's request for dismissal of the RLUIPA claims
against them in their individual capacities is granted.