United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM C. LEE, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Stewart, pro se filed a complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1983 [DE 1] along with a petition to proceed
in forma pauperis. [DE 2]. Ordinarily, a plaintiff
must pay a statutory filing fee of $400 to bring an action in
federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). However, the federal
in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915,
provides indigent litigants an opportunity for meaningful
access to the federal courts despite their inability to pay
the costs and fees associated with that access. See
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989). To authorize a
litigant to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court
must make two determinations: first, whether the litigant is
unable to pay the costs of commencing the action, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a)(1); and second, whether 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, 28 U.S.C. §
the first inquiry, an indigent party may commence an action
in federal court, without prepayment of costs and fees, upon
submission of an affidavit asserting an inability “to
pay such costs or give security therefor.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a). Here, the Petitioner states that he is
unemployed, and has seven minor dependents. He received
approximately $7, 000 from Ivy Tech College which he utilized
to support his dependents. Based on this income information,
it appears that he is financially eligible for in forma
inquiry does not end there, however. District courts have an
obligation under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen
complaints before service on the defendants, and must dismiss
the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state
a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such 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) (quotation marks and
citations omitted). A complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter to “state a claim that is plausible on
its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility
when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at
556). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level, on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true
(even if doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555 (quotation marks, citations and footnote omitted).
“[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court
to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the
complaint has alleged-but it has not shown-that the pleader
is entitled to relief.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679 (quotation marks and brackets omitted). Thus, “a
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 her that
might be redressed by the law.” Swanson v.
Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th Cir. 2010)
(emphasis in original). “In order to state a claim
under § 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
Mr. Stewart alleges that he was incarcerated at Westville
Prison from February, 2015 to September, 2015 and that his
Eighth Amendment rights were violated at various points
during his incarceration because the prison was unsanitary,
without safe water and he ate a roach. [DE 1, at 2]
Westville Prison is full of cockroaches. Their [sic] in the
kitchen making it very unsanitary and its proven that
cockroaches carry hep A. Because unknown person did not keep
prison clean and sanitary I was expose [sic] to hepatitius
and had to go without bathing. The cockroach was in my
oatmeal and I consumed it.
Id. Mr. Stewart argues that the above conditions
risked his health and he seeks damages of a trillion dollars.
state a claim premised on prison officials' failure to
protect him from harm, [the plaintiff] must allege that the
defendants knew of and disregarded an ‘excessive
risk' to his ‘health and safety.'”
Christopher v. Buss, 384 F.3d 879, 882 (7th Cir.
2004). “An objectively sufficiently serious risk, is
one that society considers so grave that to expose any
unwilling individual to it would offend contemporary
standards of decency.” Id. (quotation marks
and citations omitted). The allegations above do not reach
this level of risk. With respect to the allegation that he
consumed a cockroach in his oatmeal, this “is the type
of risk many encounter voluntarily, ” id.,
when they eat in cafeterias in schools, hospitals, museums,
and elsewhere. Indeed, this is a risk that we all take when
we consume industrially produced food. Though regrettable,
such food is always at risk of contamination because it is
produced “in less-than-perfect . . .conditions.”
the allegation that he was unable to bathe for three days due
to unsafe water conditions inside the prison fails to qualify
as an excessive risk to his health and safety. The Eighth
Amendment requires that prison officials ensure that inmates
receive adequate food, clothing, and shelter, Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994), but conditions that
merely cause inconveniences and discomfort or make
confinement unpleasant do not rise to the level of
Constitutional violations. Adams v. Pate, 445 F.2d
105, 108-109 (7th Cir. 1971).
Conditions of confinement must be severe to support an Eighth
Amendment claim; “the prison officials' act or
omission must result in the denial of ‘the minimal
civilized measure of life's necessities.'”
Farmer [v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834
(1994)] (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337,
347 (1981)). See also, Lunsford v. Bennett, 17 F.3d
1574, 1579 (7th Cir. 1994) (the Eighth Amendment only
protects prisoners from conditions that “exceed
contemporary bounds of decency of a mature, civilized
society.”); Jackson [v. Duckworth, ]
955 F.2d [21, ] 22 [(7th Cir. 1992)].
Morissette v. Peters, 45 F.3d 1119, 1123 (7th Cir.
1995) (parallel citations omitted). Here, the allegations
simply do not reach the level of severity necessary to state
an Eighth Amendment claim. Accordingly, his Complaint will be
on the foregoing, the Petition to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis is DENIED and the Complaint is DISMISSED ...