United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON STATE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss filed
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) by
Defendants the State of Indiana, Indiana Department of
Correction (“IDOC”), Superintendent Dushan
Zatecky, and IDOC staff John Safford, Jeffery King, Blaine
Hurt, Walter Peterson, and Herbert Duncan (collectively,
“State Defendants”) (Filing No. 21).
After spending more than two years in administrative
segregation at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, Plaintiff
Larry Best, Jr. (“Best”) was moved back into the
general population at the prison, and one month later, he was
attacked and seriously injured by fellow inmates. Best
initiated this lawsuit against the State Defendants as well
as Corizon Health, Inc. (“Corizon”), and Paul A.
Talbot, M.D. (“Dr. Talbot”) for violating his
Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to
protect him and having a deliberate indifference toward his
health and safety. The State Defendants filed a Motion to
Dismiss, asserting various arguments for dismissal of
Best's four claims. For the following reasons, the Court
grants in part and denies in part the State
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.
following facts are not necessarily objectively true, but as
required when reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court
accepts as true all factual allegations in the Complaint and
draws all inferences in favor of Best as the non-moving
party. See Bielanski v. County of Kane, 550 F.3d
632, 633 (7th Cir. 2008).
was an inmate at the Pendleton Correctional Facility
(“Pendleton”). He is now an inmate at Miami
Correctional Facility in Bunker Hill, Indiana. While in
custody at Pendleton, Best was held in administrative
segregation because of threats of violence against him by
members of a prison gang called the Brotherhood of the Aryan
Nation (“Aryan brotherhood”). Members of the
Aryan brotherhood had physically beaten Best and threatened
his life because he refused to join their gang. Because of
the attack and threats of violence, Best was held in
segregated housing for more than two years leading up to July
5, 2015 (Filing No. 1 at 2-3).
6, 2015, Defendant King, a caseworker with IDOC, informed
Best that he would be returned to the general population at
Pendleton. Best told King that he was fearful to return to
the general prison population because members of the Aryan
brotherhood who had attacked and threatened him were still in
Pendleton's general population. King told Defendant
Safford, a unit team manager with IDOC, about Best's
concern for his safety in the general population. King and
Safford knew that inmates are routinely moved among the
housing units and Best likely would not be safe from the
Aryan brotherhood's threats. Despite this potential
threat, Best was moved from administrative segregated housing
into the general prison population. Id. at 3.
alleges that “Duncan and Peterson were responsible for
investigation of the continued threat to [Best] if he was
returned to general population but failed to make any
investigation and allowed [Best] to return to general
population with reckless disregard for [Best's]
safety.” Id. When he was moved out of
segregated housing, the general population guards and
officers were surprised by Best's placement in the
general prison population because of threats against him.
August 7, 2015, one month after being moved back to the
general prison population, Best was attacked by members of
the Aryan brotherhood. His attackers used large river rocks
and other objects, which the prison officials had placed in
front of prison cell houses, presumably for decoration. These
large river rocks were accessible to the violent inmates at
Pendleton and could be and were used as weapons. Although
prison officials knew of the gang's threats against Best,
they failed to take measures to secure the prison to provide
for his safety. Id. at 3-4.
attack occurred while Best was leaving the medical line at
the prison infirmary, which was located in a walkway dubbed
“death alley” because it was an area known for
inmate-on-inmate assaults. The area was not well supervised,
and Best alleges prison officials, including Superintendent
Zatecky, knew the area was dangerous but were deliberately
indifferent to the safety of the inmates. Id.
Hurt was the officer in charge at the time of the attack, and
he failed to supervise the movement of inmates through
“death alley” to and from the infirmary for their
daily medication. Pendleton was understaffed on the day of
Best's attack, and the staff failed to monitor inmate
movement from place to place and thus could not prevent the
attack on Best. Further, IDOC failed to provide adequate
supervision of the inmates at Pendleton. Best alleges that
Superintendent Zatecky knew the prison was “extremely
short on staff” because he had admitted this fact only
months before the attack on Best, and this staff shortage
allowed gang violence within the prison and cultivated an
environment conducive to inmate violence. Id.
sustained severe lacerations and bruises to his head, face,
back, shoulders, arms, and right hand and wrist during the
attack. He was bleeding profusely and sought medical
treatment for his injuries (Filing No. 1 at 4). Dr.
Talbot, an employee of Corizon, was on duty at the time of
Best's attack. At that time, Corizon contracted with
Pendleton to provide medical care at the prison. Dr. Talbot
treated Best's injuries by suturing his cuts and stapling
the head wounds, which would be fastest. However, Dr. Talbot
did so without first administering an anesthetic to
Best's head in disregard to the pain that Best would
endure. Id. at 5.
Talbot failed to monitor Best's condition after the
initial suture and staples to his head. Instead, Dr. Talbot
returned Best to his cell with the severe head injury without
anyone to observe his condition. Because of the lack of
monitoring, Best suffered another injury to the head when he
blacked out in his cell, falling against the wall and onto
the floor. Best suffered dizziness, headaches, nausea, and
vomiting, as well as other concussion symptoms, and pain in
his back, neck, head, and elbow. Best has difficulty
remembering and concentrating. Dr. Talbot, Corizon, and IDOC
delayed processing, referring, and approving diagnostic tests
necessary for treatment of Best's injuries, and they
continued to pursue ineffective treatment for his condition
that continues to worsen. Id. at 5, 11-12.
September 26, 2016, Best filed this lawsuit asserting claims
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) and
state tort law against the State Defendants, Corizon, and Dr.
Talbot. Best alleges his Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth
Amendment rights were violated because the Defendants failed
to protect him, had a deliberate indifference and reckless
disregard toward his health and safety, provided inadequate
medical care, and deprived him of the opportunity to serve
his prison sentence without constant fear of threats and
violence. Corizon and Dr. Talbot filed an Answer in response
to Best's Complaint, and the State Defendants filed a
Motion to Dismiss.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a defendant to move
to dismiss a complaint that has failed to “state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6), the court accepts as true all factual allegations
in the complaint and draws all inferences in favor of the
plaintiff. Bielanski, 550 F.3d at 633. However,
courts “are not obliged to accept as true legal
conclusions or unsupported conclusions of fact.”
Hickey v. O'Bannon, 287 F.3d 656, 658 (7th Cir.
complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, the Supreme Court explained that the
complaint must allege facts that are “enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.” 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007). Although “detailed factual
allegations” are not required, mere “labels,
” “conclusions, ” or “formulaic
recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of action” are
insufficient. Id.; see also Bissessur v. Ind.
Univ. Bd. of Trs., 581 F.3d 599, 603 (7th Cir. 2009)
(“it is not enough to give a threadbare recitation of
the elements of a claim without factual support”). The
allegations must “give the defendant fair notice of
what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Stated
differently, the complaint must include “enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d
575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation and quotation marks
omitted). To be facially plausible, the complaint must allow
“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).
their Motion to Dismiss, the State Defendants address each of
the four counts asserted in Best's Complaint and advance
various arguments for the dismissal of each of the counts as
to specific State Defendants. For the sake of convenience and
simplicity, the ...