United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ERIC J. WILSON, Plaintiff,
WENDY KNIGHT Superintendent, et al. Defendants.
ENTRY DISCUSSING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING FURTHER
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Eric Wilson, an inmate at the Correctional Industrial
Facility, brings this action alleging that his rights were
violated in a number of ways when he was wrongly classified
as a sex offender. Briefly, Wilson asserts that, in November
of 2016, he was wrongly classified as a sex offender. He
alleges that this classification has violated his First
Amendment right to free speech and peaceful assemblage, his
due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, and his
Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual
punishment. For the following reasons, certain of
Wilson's claims are dismissed while one of his claims
Wilson is a “prisoner” as defined by 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(h), the complaint is subject to the screening
requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Pursuant to this
statute, “[a] complaint is subject to dismissal for
failure to state a claim if the allegations, taken as true,
show that plaintiff is not entitled to relief.”
Jones v. Bock, 127 S.Ct. 910, 921 (2007). To survive
a motion to dismiss, the complaint “must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)
(quotations omitted). Pro se complaints such as that filed by
Wilson, are construed liberally and held to a less stringent
standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.
Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94; Obriecht v.
Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 491 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008).
that Are Dismissed
First Amendment claims are dismissed. Wilson alleges that the
asserted wrongful classification as a sex offender violated
his right to free speech and peaceful assemblage. But the
Court can discern no connection between the classification
and either his speech or assembly rights. To the extent
Wilson can be understood to have raised a claim that the
defendants, particularly defendant Martin, retaliated against
him in changing his classification, he has failed to state a
claim for retaliation. To prevail on a First Amendment
retaliation claim, a plaintiff must show that “(1) he
engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment; (2) he
suffered a deprivation that would likely deter First
Amendment activity in the future; and (3) the First Amendment
activity was ‘at least a motivating factor' in the
Defendants' decision to take the retaliatory
action.” Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546
(7th Cir. 2009); see Mays v. Springborn, 719 F.3d
631, 635 (7th Cir. 2013). Wilson alleges that defendant
Martin acted based upon her negative opinion of him, but
there is no allegation that any of the defendants acted upon
Wilson's classification because of any protected First
Amendment Activity on Wilson's part.
Fourteenth Amendment due process claims must also be
dismissed. The due process clause is triggered when the
government deprives an individual of life, property or
liberty. See Kentucky Department of Corrections v.
Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 459-60 (1989). Decisions and
actions by prison authorities which do not deprive an inmate
of a protected liberty interest may be made for any reason or
for no reason. Montgomery v. Anderson, 262 F.3d 641,
644 (7th Cir. 2001)(when no recognized liberty or property
interest has been taken, the confining authority “is
free to use any procedures it chooses, or no procedures at
all”). Wilson does not allege that the change in his
classification affected his liberty interest. He therefore
has failed to state a claim for a due process violation.
Lucien v. DeTella, 141 F.3d 773, 774 (7th Cir. 1998)
(“Classifications of inmates implicate neither liberty
nor property interests . . . .”) (citing Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995)).
claim asserted pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985 is
dismissed. The conspiracy claim adds nothing and is dismissed
because all of the defendants “are state actors, and
thus amenable to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, by virtue
of their offices.” Logan v. Wilkins, 644 F.3d
577, 583 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing Hoskins v.
Poelstra, 320 F.3d 761, 764 (7th Cir. 2003).
Claim that Will Proceed
also claims that defendant Knight was deliberately
indifferent to a serious risk of harm to him based on his
classification as a sex offender. Wilson asserts that he
approached Knight with his concerns regarding his sex
offender classification and that she discussed this subject
with him within earshot of other inmates despite Wilson's
request that the conversation be kept private. As a result,
according to Wilson, rumors began to circulate that Wilson
was a sex offender and he was ultimately assaulted because of
these rumors. This claim shall proceed against Knight in her
individual capacity as a claim that she was deliberately
indifferent to a risk of harm to Wilson in violation of his
Eighth Amendment rights. Any claim against Knight in her
official capacity is dismissed. See Kentucky v.
Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-67 and n.14 (1985) (suit for
damages against state officer in official capacity is barred
by the Eleventh Amendment).
summary, the claim that defendant Knight was deliberately
indifferent to a risk of harm to Wilson in shall proceed
against Knight in her individual capacity as a claim that she
violated Wilson's Eighth Amendment rights. All other
claims against all other defendants are dismissed. If Wilson
believes he has raised a claim in his complaint that is not
addressed in this Entry, he shall have through August 7,
2017, to notify the Court.
clerk is designated pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P.
4(c)(3) to issue process to Knight in the manner specified by
Rule 4(d). Process shall consist of the complaint, applicable
forms (Notice of Lawsuit and Request for Waiver of ...