United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
William C. Lee, United States District Court Judge
Armalin, a pro se prisoner, initially filed a
complaint against the Grant County Jail, alleging that he was
assaulted by fellow inmates there. The court explained that
the complaint did not state a claim because the jail was not
a suable entity. However, because it appeared that Armalin
may be able to state a claim against a proper defendant, he
was granted leave to file an amended complaint in the spirit
of Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014 (7th Cir.
2013). Armalin has now filed an amended complaint suing
eleven defendants at the Grant County Jail, alleging that
they failed to protect him from being attacked by a fellow
inmate on October 15, 2015.
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 Cir. 2006).
inmate is attacked by another inmate, the Constitution is
violated only if “deliberate indifference by prison
officials effectively condones the attack by allowing it to
happen.” Haley v. Gross, 86 F.3d 630, 640 (7th
Cir. 1996). The defendant “must both be aware of facts
from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial
risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the
inference.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
837 (1994). Armalin does not mention many of the defendants
in this case. He complains that Cpl. Shugart was a
classification officer responsible for housing he and his
attacker in the same dorm. He also complains that one day
before the attack he informed Officer Moore that his attacker
was making threats on the dorm and that Armalin did not feel
safe. Further, before the attack on October 15, 2015, Armalin
informed Officer Francis that his attacker was trying to
start altercations in the dorm. Later that day, Armalin was
injured while defending himself against the attacker. Though
Armalin alleges that officers' actions violated prison
policies, his description does not plausibly allege that any
of the officers were deliberately indifferent.
are dangerous places. Housing the most aggressive among us,
they place violent people in close quarters.”
McGill v. Duckworth, 944 F.2d 344, 345 (7th Cir.
1991), abrogated on other grounds by Haley v.
Gross, 86 F.3d 630, 640 (7th Cir. 1996).
Some level of brutality . . . is inevitable no matter what
the guards do. Worse: because violence is inevitable unless
all prisoners are locked in their cells 24 hours a day and
sedated (a “solution” posing constitutional
problems of its own) it will always be possible to say that
the guards “should have known” of the risk.
Indeed they should, and do. Applied to a prison, the
objective “should have known” formula of tort law
approaches absolute liability, rather a long distance from
the Supreme Court's standards in Estelle and its
Id. at 348. This is why general requests for help
and expressions of fear are insufficient to alert guards to
the need for action. Klebanowski v. Sheahan, 540
F.3d 633, 639-40 (7th Cir. 2008).
Klebanowski testified during his deposition that he told
officers twice on September 8 that he was afraid for his life
and he wanted to be transferred off the tier. Those
statements, and the officers' knowledge of the first
beating, are the only pieces of evidence in the record that
can assist Klebanowski in his attempt to show that the
officers were aware of any risk to him. We have previously
held that statements like those made by Klebanowski are
insufficient to alert officers to a specific threat.
Butera, 285 F.3d at 606 (deeming insufficient to
establish deliberate indifference statements by a prisoner
that he was “having problems in the block” and
“needed to be removed”). In Butera, we
deemed the inmate's statements insufficient to give
notice to the officers because they did not provide the
identities of those who threatened the inmate, nor state what
the threats were.
The facts of this case make clear our reason for requiring
more than general allegations of fear or the need to be
removed. By Klebanowski's own testimony, the officers
knew only that he had been involved in an altercation with
three other inmates, and that he wanted a transfer because he
feared for his life. He did not tell them that he had
actually been threatened with future violence, nor that the
attack on September 8 was inflicted by gang members because
of his non-gang status. Without these additional facts to
rely on, there was nothing leading the officers to believe
that Klebanowski himself was not speculating regarding the
threat he faced out of fear based on the first attack he
suffered. This lack of specificity falls below the required
notice an officer must have for liability to attach for
Id. at 639-40 (footnote omitted). Here, Armalin does
not allege that he expressed any specific threats directed
towards him prior to the attack. Neither does he allege - nor
provide a factual basis indicating - that any of the
defendants had any idea that there was a specific risk that
he might be attacked. Instead, Armalin only alleged that he
told some of the defendants that he had a generalized fear of
attack. As such, this complaint does not state a claim.
seems unlikely that Armalin warned the defendants about an
impending attack, but failed to mention it in the complaint.
It also seems unlikely that Armalin knows (but omitted) facts
from which it can be plausibly inferred that any of the
defendants had actual knowledge of an impending attack.
Nevertheless, because the court cannot say that it would be
futile for him to file an amended complaint, he will be
granted the opportunity to do so. See Luevano v.
Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014 (7th Cir. 2013). However, merely
because he is permitted to file an amended complaint is not a
reason for him to do so. Armalin should only file an amended
complaint if he believes that he can allege facts from which
it can be plausibly inferred that any of the defendants were
deliberately indifferent. He should only file an amended
complaint if he can explain how the facts of his case meet
the high standard for a failure to protect claim as required
these reasons, the court:
DIRECTS the clerk to place this cause number on a blank
Prisoner Complaint ...