United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division
ENTRY DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING FURTHER
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated at the Floyd
County Jail. Because the plaintiff is a
“prisoner” as defined by 28 U.S.C. §
1915(h), this Court has an obligation under 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b) to screen his complaint before service on the
defendants. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court
must dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious,
fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief. In
determining whether the complaint states a claim, the Court
applies the same standard as when addressing a motion to
dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
See Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621,
624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive dismissal,
[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim for 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). 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. Obriecht v. Raemisch,
517 F.3d 489, 491 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008).
The Plaintiff's Allegations
plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against Clark County and the Clark County Jail. He
alleges that, while he was incarcerated at the Clark County
Jail, he informed Ms. Thomas that he was being housed with
his brother's murderer. Ms. Thomas informed the plaintiff
that she needed to know his brother's murderer's
name, but the plaintiff did not know it. Ms. Thomas said that
he would wait there until he told her the name. After two
hours passed, the plaintiff was taken to segregation, which
he alleges caused him mental distress.
days later, Mr. Lavose told the plaintiff that he had heard
one of the plaintiff's family members had died, but could
not tell him who or confirm that was true. This news greatly
upset the plaintiff. Ultimately, it turned out not to be
plaintiff's claims must be dismissed because he did not
sue the proper defendants and, even if he did, his claims are
not viable as presented.
neither of the two named defendants are proper parties in
this action. The Clark County Jail is not a
“person” under § 1983 and thus not a suable
entity in this action. The plaintiff presumably sues Clark
County to hold it responsible for what occurred at the Clark
County Jail. But it is the County Sheriff, not the county
itself, who is responsible for the care of prisoners within a
jail, and a county does not control or direct the manner in
which that responsibility is met. See Estate of Drayton
v. Nelson, 53 F.3d 165, 167 (7th Cir. 1994)
(“Marion County has no authority over the Sheriff and
his deputies . . . .”); Weatherholt v. Spencer
County, 639 N.E.2d 354, 357 n.2 (Ind.Ct.App. 1994)
(“[T]he sheriff is not a representative of the county
but he holds a separate office created by the Indiana
Constitution.”). Even if the plaintiff named the
Sheriff as a defendant, however, his claims would still be
insufficient because there are no allegations that the
Sheriff was personally involved in the alleged harms and
there is no supervisory liability for § 1983 claims.
See Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 593-94 (7th
Cir. 2009) (“Section 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.”).
even if the plaintiff named the individuals responsible for
placing him in segregation and informing him that one of his
family members may have passed away, his claim could still
the plaintiff's placement in segregation following his
concern about being housed with his brother's murderer,
his allegations are insufficient to state a constitutional
violation. Jail officials have a duty to protect inmates from
violent assaults by other inmates. See Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 833 (1994). They incur liability
for the breach of that duty when they were “aware of a
substantial risk of serious injury to [an inmate] but
nevertheless failed to take appropriate steps to protect him
from a known danger.” Guzman v. Sheahan, 495
F.3d 852, 857 (7th Cir. 2007) (citations and quotation marks
omitted); see also Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749,
758-59 (7th Cir. 2010). But according to the plaintiff's
own allegations, once he informed Ms. Thomas that he was
being housed with his brother's murderer, he was moved to
segregated housing where he would be safer from harm than if
he remained housed with that inmate. In other words, prison
officials took steps to separate him from the known danger,
and there are no allegations that they fell short of their
duty in any other respect.
the plaintiff's allegations regarding being falsely told
that one of his family members passed away, such allegations
are also insufficient to state an constitutional claim.
“[T]he Eighth Amendment prohibits unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain, ” and “[s]uch
gratuitous infliction of pain always violates contemporary
standards of decency and need not produce serious injury in
order to violate the Eighth Amendment.” Calhoun v.
DeTella, 319 F.3d 936, 939 (7th Cir. 2003).
“Moreover, physical injury need not result for the
punishment to state a cause of action, for the wanton
infliction of psychological pain is also prohibited.”
Id.; see ...