United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
CHRISTOPHER A. PLATT, Plaintiff,
INDIANA STATE PRISON, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
DEGUILIO, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
A. Platt, a pro se prisoner, filed a complaint. ECF
1. 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. 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). “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).
“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).
is an inmate at the Indiana State Prison (“ISP”).
He alleges that he made complaints to various unnamed
officers about the disrepair of his cell ceiling in December
2016, but it was not fixed. Repairs had not been made by
December 9, 2016, when part of the ceiling fell on him,
striking his head and neck. Platt sues the ISP and
unidentified officers for money damages for housing him under
conditions that violated the Eighth Amendment. Prison
officials must “take reasonable measures to guarantee
the safety of the inmates.” Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (quotation marks and citations
omitted). However, a prison official only violates the Eighth
Amendment if he is deliberately indifferent to conditions
posing a substantial risk of serious harm. Id. at
retrospect, it is evident that the ceiling posed such a risk,
but Platt has not presented factual support for an allegation
that anyone was deliberately indifferent to that risk.
Deliberate indifference is comparable to criminal
recklessness, and is shown by “something approaching a
total unconcern for [the plaintiff's] welfare in the face
of serious risks, or a conscious, culpable refusal to prevent
harm.” Duane v. Lane, 959 F.2d 673, 677 (7th
Cir. 1992). The defendant “must be both aware of facts
from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial
risk of serious harm exists, and he must draw the
inference.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
837 (1994). A defendant must have “actual knowledge of
impending harm easily preventable, so that a conscious,
culpable refusal to prevent the harm can be inferred from the
defendant's failure to prevent it.” Duckworth
v. Franzen, 780 F.2d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 1985). This
total disregard for a prisoner's safety is the
“functional equivalent of wanting harm to come to the
prisoner.” McGill v. Duckworth, 944 F.2d 344,
347 (7th Cir. 1991). Negligence does not satisfy the
“deliberate indifference” standard, Sellers
v. Henman, 41 F.3d 1100, 1102 (7th Cir. 1994), and it is
not enough to show that a prison official merely failed to
act reasonably. Gibbs v. Franklin, 49 F.3d 1206,
1208 (7th Cir. 1995). Deliberate indifference can be inferred
only where there is a strong likelihood rather than a mere
possibility that injury will occur. Watts v.
Laurent, 774 F.2d 168, 172 (7th Cir. 1985). Prison
officials are not expected to eliminate the possibility of
all dangers. McGill v. Duckworth, 944 F.2d 344, 345
(7th Cir. 1991).
unclear what Platt told the unnamed officers about the
condition of the ceiling. Platt has not explained what any
guard was told that would have alerted him to there being an
imminent danger of collapse which would have necessitated an
immediate response. Neither has he alleged that anyone
delayed the repairs because he did not care whether Platt was
injured. Thus, Platt has not plausibly alleged that anyone
was deliberately indifferent. Therefore, this complaint does
not state a claim.
Platt has not identified any possible defendant. Though ISP
is where these events occurred, it is a building, not a
person or even a policy making unit of government that can be
sued pursuant to Title 42 U.S.C. section 1983. See Sow v.
Fortville Police Dep't, 636 F.3d 293, 300 (7th Cir.
2011). Platt apparently does not know the identity of the
officers who he notified about the disrepair of the ceiling.
As a practical matter his case cannot proceed against unnamed
defendants. See Wudtke v. Davel, 128 F.3d 1057, 1060
(7th Cir. 1997) (“[I]t is pointless to include lists of
anonymous defendants in federal court; this type of
placeholder does not open the door to relation back under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15, nor can it otherwise help the
plaintiff.”). In his amended complaint, Platt must also
include any information he can provide that may assist in
identifying the officers, including a physical description.
the current complaint does not state a plausible claim, if
given the opportunity Platt may be able to do so.
Accordingly, he will be granted an opportunity to submit an
amended complaint. Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,
722 F.3d 1014, 1022-23, 1025 (7th Cir. 2013). In the amended
complaint, Platt should be sure to address the deficiencies
noted in this order. He should explain in his own words what
happened, when it happened, where it happened, and how he was
personally injured by the conditions he describes, providing
as much detail as possible.
these reasons, the court:
(1) DIRECTS the clerk to place this cause number on a blank
Prisoner Complaint form and send it to Christopher A. Platt;
(2) GRANTS Christopher A. Platt, to and including July 24,
2017, to file an amended complaint; and
(3) CAUTIONS him that if he does not respond by the deadline,
this case will be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A because the current amended complaint does not state ...