United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge United States District Court
Russell Ybarra, a pro se prisoner, filed a complaint
as a result of being placed in segregation while a pretrial
detainee at the Wells County Jail. He dues Sheriff Monty
Fisher, Jail Commander Karen Thompson and the Wells County
Sheriffs Department for being placed in those conditions. The
court must review the merits of a prisoner complaint and
dismiss it if 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. § 1915A. “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
Cir. 2006). “A 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
September 25, 2015, Mr. Ybarra was being held as a pretrial
detainee at the Wells County Jail. He was placed in
segregation due to an investigation that was being conducted.
He complains about being placed in segregation.“A
pretrial detainee cannot be placed in segregation as a
punishment for a disciplinary infraction without notice and
an opportunity to be heard; due process requires no less. But
no process is required if he is placed in segregation not as
punishment but for managerial reasons.” Higgs v.
Carver, 286 F.3d 437, 438 (7th Cir. 2002) (citations
omitted). “[N]o process is required when a pretrial
detainee is segregated to protect jail staff and other
prisoners from his violent propensities. Id.;
Zarnes v. Rhodes, 64 F.3d 285, 291-92 (7th
Cir.1995).” Davis v. Schroeder, 464 F.
App'x 549, 550 (7th Cir. 2012).
Ybarra explains that he was placed in segregation for one
week due to an investigation being conducted at the Wells
County Jail. Mr. Ybarra doesn't contend that he was
placed there as any sort of punishment. “[A]
prison's internal security is peculiarly a matter
normally left to the discretion of prison administrators
[because p]rison administrators should be accorded
wide-ranging deference in the adoption and execution of
policies and practices that in their judgment are needed to
preserve internal order and discipline and to maintain
institutional security.” Whitley v. Albers,
475 U.S. 312, 321-322 (1986) (quotation marks and ellipsis
omitted). Based on these allegations, it's not plausible
to find that Mr. Ybarra's placement in segregation was
for anything other than to allow Wells County Jail officials
to conduct and complete an internal investigation, which
doesn't violate Ybarra's constitution rights.
Mr. Ybarra alleges that he was housed in inadequate
conditions while in segregation. He says the cell didn't
have any running water or toilet, that he wasn't allowed
to leave his cell for recreation nor allowed to use the
phone, that he remained in his cell when he became sick from
withdrawal, that he had to ask officers to provide him with
water to drink and also to allow him to use the toilet, that
he had to sit in soiled clothing “for hours, ”
that the lights were kept on 24 hours a day, and that a
camera in his cell recorded him all day. Mr. Ybarra alleges
that Jail Commander Thompson was personally aware of these
conditions, but she did nothing to remedy the situation
despite his complaints.
are entitled to adequate food, clothing, shelter, bedding,
hygiene materials, and sanitation. Knight v.
Wiseman, 590 F.3d 458, 463 (7th Cir. 2009).But
“the Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons
. . ..” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349
(1981). 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). Though the conditions Mr.
Ybarra describes are unpleasant, he hasn't alleged facts
demonstrating that he was denied he minimal civilized measure
of life's necessities. Inmates aren't
constitutionally entitled to have running water in their
cell. Williams v. Collins, No. 14 C 5275, 2015 WL
4572311 (N.D. Ill. July 29, 2015) (citing Jelinek v.
Roth, No. 93-3316, 1994 WL 447266, at *2 (7th Cir. Aug.
19, 1994)). He doesn't allege that he was denied drinking
water nor the opportunity to use the toilet when necessary.
And, though he alleges that he was placed in a cell where the
lights were left on for 24 hours a day, he doesn't
indicate how bright the lights are, nor what harm was caused
by them. Neither does he say whether he was permitted to
cover his eyes to block out the light and help him sleep.
See Mathews v. Raemisch, 513 Fed.Appx. 605 (7th Cir.
2013). Though he claims to have suffered withdrawal symptoms
while in segregation, he doesn't allege that he was
denied any necessary medical treatment. And, though he claims
to have sat in soiled clothing for hours, he doesn't
explain why his clothes were soiled, why he had to sit in
them for hours, or how many times this occurred during the
final matter, Mr. Ybarra's allegations against the Wells
County Sheriff Department and Sheriff Fisher don't state
a claim for relief, either. Mr. Ybarra names Sheriff Fisher
as a defendant because he oversees the jail in his role as
Sheriff of Wells County. However, because there is no general
respondeat superior liability under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, Sheriff Fisher cannot be held liable simply because he
oversees operations at the jail or supervises other
correctional officers. Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d
592, 594 (7th Cir. 2009). Moreover, it's not clear why he
is trying to hold the sheriff's department liable, as
opposed to some individual who caused his injury. There are
no allegations against the department contained in the
complaint doesn't state a constitutional claim against
any defendant. The court will give Mr. Ybarra a chance to
replead his claims if he believes he can state a claim.
Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014,
1022-1023, 1025 (7th Cir. 2013). Any amended complaint should
address the deficiencies the court has discussed. He should
explain in his own words what happened, when it happened,
where it happened, who was involved, and how he was
personally injured by the conditions he describes, providing
as much detail as possible.
foregoing reasons, the court:
(1) DIRECTS the clerk to place this cause
number on a blank Prisoner Complaint form and sent it to
Randy Russell Ybarra; and
(2) GRANTS Randy Russell Ybarra to and
including June 26, 2017, to file an amended complaint.
If Mr. Ybarra doesn't respond by June 26, this case will
be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A because this
complaint doesn't state a claim ...