United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Simon United States District Judge.
Jerome Williams, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed an
amended complaint against seven employees of the Westville
Correctional Facility. According to Williams, Correctional
Officer Watson entered his humanities class and began
insulting various inmates in the class. Watson then told
Williams, “you like hugging men, you like strong hands
on your back while you getting fucke[d], I'll make sure
you get a hug tonight!” ECF 6 at 3. Williams reported
the comment and filed an administrative complaint under the
Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Williams alleges that
when Officer Watson learned of the PREA complaint, she
retaliated against him by issuing a false disciplinary report
claiming that he had made the sexually explicit
statements to her. Williams claims Librarian B.
McGee also wrote a false witness statement.
was immediately relocated for his safety. Officer Watson
entered Williams' new housing unit and spoke with a
correctional officer. As she left the unit, she gave Williams
a nasty look. The other officer then approached Williams and
stated, “people who make complaints are cowards and
snitches.” ECF 6 at 4. Two months later, Defendant
Watson again entered his housing unit and gave him a dirty
look. Williams alleges that as a result of his interactions
with Officer Watson, other prisoners accused him of being a
“snitch” and an “officer slayer” and
have threatened to “give [him] a reason to make a PREA
report.” ECF 6 at 5.
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 citations omitted). Nevertheless,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I 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.
prevail on his First Amendment retaliation claim, [Mr.
Williams] 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.” Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d
859, 866 (7th Cir. 2012) (quotation marks and citations
omitted). Here, Williams has plausibly alleged that Officer
Watson and Librarian McGee were motivated to file false
disciplinary charges against him because of the PREA
complaint against Watson. He has also plausibly alleged that
an inmate of reasonable fortitude would be deterred from
filing such a complaint in the future as a result of being
falsely charged with a disciplinary violation and by being
harassed by other guards and fellow inmates at the
encouragement of Officer Watson. Therefore I will grant him
leave to proceed against Officer Watson and Librarian McGee.
claims against the remaining defendants fail to state a
claim. Williams alleges that in response to his PREA
complaint, Captain Smiley moved him for his safety. He also
alleges that Captain Smiley signed the conduct report as
Officer Watson's supervisor. Williams has not plausibly
alleged that either of these actions were retaliatory and
there is no supervisory liability under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. “[P]ublic employees are responsible for their own
misdeeds but not for anyone else's.” Burks v.
Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 596 (7th Cir. 2009). Williams
alleges that Grievance Specialist Troy Cambe attempted to
stop his grievances from being processed on two occasions.
However, being denied access to a prison grievance system
does not state a claim. Kervin v. Barnes, 787 F.3d
833, 835 (7th Cir. 2015). Williams alleges that Grievance
Manager Linda Vanatta did not investigate the claims in his
grievance. However, not investigating a grievance does not
state a claim. Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 595
(7th Cir. 2009). Williams alleges that Internal Affairs
Officer Kallock and Superintendent Mark Sevier did not
prevent Officer Watson from visiting his new dorm. A prison
official “can be held liable under § 1983 if [he]
(1) had reason to know that a fellow officer was . . .
committing a constitutional violation, and (2) had a
realistic opportunity to intervene to prevent the act from
occurring.” Lewis v. Downey, 581 F.3d 467, 472
(7th Cir. 2009). However, Williams has not plausibly alleged
that either Officer Kallock or Superintendent Sevier knew
that Officer Watson was committing a constitutional violation
or that either had a reasonable opportunity to intervene.
Therefore these five defendants will be dismissed.
these reasons, the court:
GRANTS Michael Jerome Williams leave to proceed against Ofc.
T. Watson in her individual capacity for compensatory and
punitive damages for retaliating against him in violation of
the First Amendment by filing a false disciplinary report and
encouraging other officers and inmates to verbally harass him
because he filed a PREA claim against Ofc. T. Watson;
GRANTS Michael Jerome Williams leave to proceed against Mrs.
B. McGee in her individual capacity for compensatory and
punitive damages for retaliating against him in violation of
the First Amendment by filing a false witness statement in
support of the false disciplinary report because he filed a
PREA claim against Ofc. T. Watson;
DISMISSES all other claims;
DISMISSES Mark Sevier, Mrs. Kallock, Troy Cambe, Captain
Smiley, and Lind Vanatta;
DIRECTS the clerk and the United States Marshals Service to
issue and serve process on Ofc. T. Watson and Mrs. B. McGee
with a copy of this order and the amended complaint (ECF 6)
as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d); and
ORDERS, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2), that
Officer T. Watson and Mrs. B. McGee respond, as provided for
in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and N.D. Ind. L.R.
10-1(b), only to the claims for which the ...