United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
CHRISTOPHER M. OSTACK, Plaintiff,
INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, PUTNAMVILLE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, TWO UNKNOWN OFFICERS, Defendants.
ENTRY DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING FURTHER
WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis
[dkt. 3] is granted. The assessment of even a partial filing
fee is not feasible at this time based on the reported
balance of the plaintiff's inmate trust fund account.
Notwithstanding the foregoing ruling, the plaintiff owes the
filing fee. “All [28 U.S.C.] § 1915 has ever done
is excuse pre-payment of the docket fees; a litigant
remains liable for them, and for other costs, although
poverty may make collection impossible.”
Abdul-Wadood v. Nathan, 91 F.3d 1023, 1025 (7th Cir.
Standard of Review
plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated at Putnamville
Correctional Facility (“Putnamville”). Because
the plaintiff is a “prisoner” as defined by 28
U.S.C. § 1915(h), this Court has an obligation under 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b) to screen his complaint before service
on the defendants. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the
Court 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. In determining whether the complaint states a claim,
the Court applies the same standard as when addressing a
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). See Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621,
624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive dismissal,
[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that 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). 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).
Discussion of Claims
Christopher M. Ostack has sued the Indiana Department of
Corrections, Putnamville Correctional Facility, and two
unknown officers alleging that they failed to protect him
from violence at the hands of another inmate. Specifically,
Ostack alleges that on March 18, 2017, he was moved to dorm
18 North. Upon arrival, Ostack's assigned cellmate,
Edward Hobson AKA Pearl, became progressively more
threatening. On March 19, 2017, at approximately 2:30 p.m.,
Ostack and Hobson both told the officers that they could not
bunk together. Ostack told them that he was not safe. The
officers refused to give their names and they were not
wearing identification. The officers did not move Ostack and
around 7:30 p.m. that same day, Ostack was attacked by
Hobson. He was beaten with a double lock and severely
injured. Ostack states that he seek money damages, transfer,
restoration of credit time and an investigation.
Dismissal of Certain Claims
Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) is dismissed for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Eleventh Amendment immunity bars suits against states and
their agencies regardless of the relief sought, whether
damages or injunctive relief. Seminole Tribe of Florida
v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 58 (1996); Pennhurst State
School and Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 102
(1984). In addition, states and their agencies are not
“persons” subject to suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 under the circumstances alleged in Ostack's
complaint. Will v. Michigan Department of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989).
Putnamville is dismissed for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted because the facility is not a
person subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
claim that he was wrongly convicted of battery in a prison
disciplinary proceeding based on the circumstances alleged in
this action must be dismissed. He acknowledges that the
disciplinary proceeding resulted in the deprivation of earned
good time. It is for this reason that any claim based on the
disciplinary proceedings must be dismissed without prejudice.
The settled law in these circumstances is that when a
prisoner makes a claim that, if successful, could shorten his
term of imprisonment, the claim must be brought as a habeas
petition, not as a § 1983 claim. Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In Edwards v.
Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997), the foregoing rule was
“extend[ed] . . . to the decisions of prison
disciplinary tribunals.” Gilbert v. Cook, 512
F.3d 899, 900 (7th Cir. 2007).