United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge United States District Court
Wyatt, a prisoner representing himself, filed a complaint
alleging that he slipped and fell getting out of a transport
van at the Miami Correctional Facility (Miami). “A
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,
the court must review the merits of a prisoner complaint. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A.
not heavy on detail, the complaint alleges that Mr. Wyatt
slipped and fell while getting out of a transport van at
Miami. Sgt. Aldredge was present while Mr. Wyatt was getting
out of the van, but he was distracted talking to other
officers. As Mr. Wyatt stepped out of the van, his leg
shackles got caught on the vehicle's running boards,
causing him to fall and hit his head. My Wyatt contends that
Sgt. Aldredge was negligent in allowing him to get out of the
van unassisted. He sues Sgt. Aldredge, Miami and the Indiana
Department of Corrections.
Wyatt hasn't alleged a plausible Eighth Amendment
violation. Prison conditions violate the Eighth Amendment if
they pose a substantial risk of serious harm and prison
officials are deliberately indifferent to the risk.
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).
“[N]ot every deviation from ideally safe conditions
constitutes a violation of the constitution. The Eighth
amendment does not constitutionalize torts. Nor does it
require complete compliance with the numerous OSHA
regulations.” French v. Owens, 777 F.2d 1250,
1257 (7th Cir. 1985) (quotation marks and citations omitted.)
Conditions of confinement must be severe to support an Eighth
Amendment claim; “the prison officials' act or
omission must result in the denial of ‘the minimal
civilized measure of life's necessities.'”
Farmer [v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)]
(quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347
(1981)). See also, Lunsford v. Bennett, 17 F.3d
1574, 1579 (7th Cir. 1994) (the Eighth Amendment only
protects prisoners from conditions that “exceed
contemporary bounds of decency of a mature, civilized
society.”); Jackson [v. Duckworth, ] 955 F.2d
[21, ] 22 [(7th Cir. 1992)].
Morissette v. Peters, 45 F.3d 1119, 1123 (7th Cir.
1995) (parallel citations omitted). “An objectively
sufficiently serious risk, is one that society considers so
grave that to expose any unwilling individual to it would
offend contemporary standards of decency.”
Christopher v. Buss, 384 F.3d 879, 882 (7th Cir.
2004) (quotation marks and citations omitted). But
“slippery surfaces and shower floors in prison, without
more, cannot constitute a hazardous condition of
confinement” that violates the Eighth Amendment.
Pyles v. Fahim, 771 F.3d 403, 410-411 (7th Cir.
2014). Mr. Wyatt has simply alleged that his shackles got
caught on something, causing him to fall getting out of the
van. He doesn't identify what the shackles got caught on
nor does he give any information about the condition of the
van or its running boards. He must do more to plausibly
allege that the van posed a significant risk of extreme harm
to him. Anderson v. Morrison, 835 F.3d 681 (7th Cir.
Mr. Wyatt alleged that anyone was deliberately indifferent to
a significant risk of harm. Deliberate indifference is
“something approaching a total unconcern for [the
plaintiff's] welfare in the face of serious risks, or a
conscious, culpable refusal to prevent harm.” Duane
v. Lane, 959 F.2d 673, 677 (7th Cir. 1992). This total
disregard for a prisoner's safety is the
“functional equivalent of wanting harm to come to the
prisoner.” McGill v. Duckworth, 944 F.2d 344,
347 (7th Cir. 1991). “[C]onduct is deliberately
indifferent when the official has acted in an intentional or
criminally reckless manner, i.e., the defendant must have
known that the plaintiff was at serious risk of being harmed
and decided not to do anything to prevent that harm from
occurring even though he could have easily done so.”
Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 478 (7th Cir. 2005)
(quotation marks, brackets, and citation omitted).
most, Mr. Wyatt alleges that Sgt. Aldredge was negligent in
not helping him out of the van. Negligence on an
official's part doesn't violate the Constitution, and
it isn't enough that he should have known of a risk.
Instead, deliberate indifference requires evidence that an
official actually knew of a substantial risk of serious harm
and consciously disregarded it nonetheless.”
Pierson v. Hartley, 391 F.3d 898, 902 (7th Cir.
2004) (citations omitted). It's not enough to show that a
defendant merely failed to act reasonably. Gibbs v.
Franklin, 49 F.3d 1206, 1208 (7th Cir. 1995). Even
incompetence doesn't state a claim of deliberate
indifference. Walker v. Peters, 233 F.3d 494 (7th
Cir. 2000). Mr. Wyatt doesn't allege that Sgt. Aldridhe
was aware of any dangerous condition or that he disregarded
this known condition. Without more, Mr. Wyatt might have a
state law claim for negligence, but he can't maintain
this action under Section 1983.
it doesn't appear that Mr. Wyatt could state a Section
1983 claim even if he files an amended complaint, the court
will let him try if he thinks he can address the deficiencies
noted above. Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014 (7th
Cir. 2013). If he decides to file an amended
complaint, he should get a blank copy of this court's
complaint form from the law library and write the cause
number for this case in the caption on the amended complaint.
In the amended complaint, Mr. Wyatt must explain how and why
getting out of the van posed a significant risk of extreme
harm to him and must also explain how the named defendants
were deliberately indifferent to that dangerous condition.
these reasons, the court:
DIRECTS the clerk to place this cause number on a blank
Prisoner Complaint form and send it to William Wyatt;
GRANTS William Wyatt until October 26, 2017, to file an
amended complaint; and
DIRECTS the clerk to enter judgment for the defendant if Mr.
Wyatt doesn't file ...