United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division
ENTRY SCREENING COMPLAINT, DISMISSING INSUFFICIENT
CLAIMS AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis,
dkt. , is granted. The assessment of an
initial partial filing fee is not feasible at this time.
the plaintiff 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, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(quotations omitted). Pro se complaints such as that filed by
the plaintiff, are construed liberally and held to a less
stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007);
Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 491 n.2
(7th Cir. 2008).
plaintiff's federal claim is 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). He seeks monetary damages
and injunctive relief.
Discussion of Complaint
the plaintiff is incarcerated at the Harrison County Jail. He
alleges that he made a joke about clogging the toilet with a
trash bag that jail officials interpreted as a threat to
flood a cell. Cpl. Schram informed Capt. Cundall of the
plaintiff's alleged “threat.” Capt. Cundall
ordered the plaintiff to be placed in a dry cell for the
remainder of his incarceration. This caused the plaintiff to
be segregated from the general population. The plaintiff
grieved his placement in segregation and Capt. Cundall
threatened him disciplinary action if he further grieved. He
states Sheriff Sealy was aware of this treatment.
plaintiff also alleges Capt. Cundall threatened him with
disciplinary action for complaining.
damages suit under § 1983 requires that a defendant be
personally involved in the alleged constitutional
deprivation.” Matz v. Klotka, 769 F.3d 517,
528 (7th Cir. 2014); see Minix v. Canarecci, 597
F.3d 824, 833 (7th Cir. 2010) (“[I]ndividual liability
under § 1983 requires ‘personal involvement in the
alleged constitutional deprivation.'”). Whether
supervisory personnel at a prison are sufficiently involved
in an alleged constitutional violation such that they may be
liable for damages often depends on that person's
knowledge of, and responsibilities regarding, the alleged
harm. The Seventh Circuit has recently discussed what factual
circumstances are sufficient to make such a person legally
responsible for an alleged constitutional violation.
“knowledge of a subordinate's misconduct is not
enough for liability.” Vance v. Rumsfeld, 701
F.3d 193, 203 (7th Cir. 2012) (en banc). Indeed,
“inaction following receipt of a complaint about
someone else's conduct is [insufficient].”
Estate of Miller by Chassie v. Marberry, __ F.3d __,
2017 WL 396568, *3 (7th Cir. 2017); see Burks v.
Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 595 (7th Cir. 2009) (“[The
plaintiff's] view that everyone who knows about a
prisoner's problem must pay damages implies that he could
write letters to the Governor . . . and 999 other public
officials, demand that every one of those 1, 000 officials
drop everything he or she is doing in order to investigate ...