United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division
ENTRY SCREENING COMPLAINT, DISMISSING INSUFFICIENT
CLAIMS AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's motion to
proceed in forma pauperis [dkt. 2], motion for counsel [dkt.
3] and for Screening. The Court will address each matter in
In Forma Pauperis
plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis,
[dkt. 2], is granted. The assessment of even a partial filing
fee is not feasible at this time.
Motion For Counsel
plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel, [dkt. 3], is
denied as premature. The complaint has not been screened and
the defendants have not been served. The Seventh Circuit has
found that “until the defendants respond to the
complaint, the plaintiff's need for assistance of counsel
cannot be gauged.” Kadamovas v. Stevens, 706
F.3d 843, 845 (7th Cir. 2013).
complaint is now subject to the screening requirement of 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b). This statute directs that the Court
dismiss a complaint or any claim within a complaint which
“(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” Id. To satisfy the notice-pleading
standard of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
complaint must provide a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,
” which is sufficient to provide the defendant with
“fair notice” of the claim and its basis.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per
curiam) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007) and quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). The
purpose of this requirement is “to give the defendant
fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41, 47 (1957)); see also Wade v. Hopper, 993
F.2d 1246, 1249 (7th Cir. 1993) (noting that the main purpose
of Rule 8 is rooted in fair notice: a complaint “must
be presented with intelligibility sufficient for a court or
opposing party to understand whether a valid claim is alleged
and if so what it is.”) (quotation omitted)). The
complaint “must actually suggest that the plaintiff has
a right to relief, by providing allegations that raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.” Windy
City Metal Fabricators & Supply, Inc. v. CIT Tech. Fin.
Servs., 536 F.3d 663, 668 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir.
Easley is a pretrial detainee at the Clark County, Indiana
jail. His claims are brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. A cause of action is provided by 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against “[e]very person who, under color of any
statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any
State or Territory, . . . subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws” of the United States. Section 1983 is not
itself a source of substantive rights; instead, it is a means
for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere.
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989)
(citing Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3
(1979)). The initial step in any § 1983 analysis is to
identify the specific constitutional right which was
allegedly violated. Id. at 394; Kernats v.
O'Sullivan, 35 F.3d 1171, 1175 (7th Cir. 1994);
see also Gossmeyer v. McDonald, 128 F.3d 481, 489-90
(7th Cir. 1997).
Easley sues the Clark County Jail, the Sheriff of Clark
County and others pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
alleged violations of his federally secured rights while the
plaintiff was confined in the Clark County Jail. This
implicates the Eighth Amendment. Because Mr. Easley was a
pretrial detainee, it is the due process clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment rather than the Eighth Amendment's
proscription against cruel and unusual punishment which is
the source of this right. Estate of Miller, ex rel.
Bertram v. Tobiasz, 680 F.3d 984, 989 (7th Cir. 2012)
(citing Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535-37
(1979)). However, courts still look to Eighth Amendment case
law in addressing the claims of pretrial detainees, given
that the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment's due
process clause are at least as broad as those that the Eighth
Amendment affords to convicted prisoners. Rice ex rel.
Rice v. Correctional Medical Services, 675 F.3d 650, 664
(7th Cir. 2012).
Mr. Easley alleges a mold and rodent infestation throughout
the jail that has resulted in him sleeping on the floor and
no shower curtains in the showers, problems with the mail
delivery and the mail being delivered opened, and a denial of
his request for a hair-cut. He also alleges that he needed
emergency medical attention but was made to wait two to three
days for care. He grieved these issues within the jail
grievance system and Cpt. Boley responded the jail would be
sprayed for the infestation problem. Lt. Keating responded
that the delay in receiving and sending mail was the fault of
the United State Post Office. Cpt. Nutter responded to Mr.
Easley's grievance regarding the denial of his request
for a hair-cut stating the hair clippers were broken. Cpt.
Nutter also told Mr. Easley that the jail would be cleaned
properly. Detective Snelling threatened Mr. Easley with
1983 does not establish a system of vicarious responsibility.
Liability depends on each defendant's knowledge and
actions, not on the knowledge or actions of persons they
supervise. . . . Monell's rule [is that] that public
employees are responsible for their own misdeeds but not for
anyone else's.” Burks v. Raemisch, 555
F.3d 592, 593-94 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Monell v. New
York City Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658
(1978)). “Because vicarious liability is inapplicable
to . . . § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each
Government official defendant, through the official's own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1948 (2009).
claims against Sheriff Billingsley, Lt. Keating, Cpt. Boley,
and Cpt. Nutter are dismissed as legally insufficient because
there is no allegation of wrongdoing on their part.
“Where a complaint alleges no specific act or conduct
on the part of the defendant . . . the complaint is properly
dismissed.” Potter v. Clark, 497 F.2d 1206,
1207 (7th Cir. 1974); see Black v. Lane, 22 F.3d
1395, 1401 and n.8 (7th Cir. 1994) (district court properly
dismissed complaint against one defendant when the complaint
alleged only that defendant was charged with the
administration of the institution and was responsible for all
persons at the institution). The only allegation against
Sheriff Billingsley is that she responded to Mr. Easley's
complaint with the remark, “you[r] in jail.”
Similarly, Lt. Keating, Cpt. Nutter, and Cpt. Boley only
responded to Mr. Easley's grievances. He does not allege