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Bowman v. State

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

October 11, 2017

STEPHEN G. BOWMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, ROBERT E. CORTES, Jr. Com. Doc., PENDELTON CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, ZATECKY Superintendent, DUANE ALSIP Assistant Superintendent, ANDREW COLE Assistant Superintendent, HOLLOWELL, HINTON Sgt., MARKS Sgt., PITT, LAURA R BEDKIN, PAULA DICKSON, LUNDFORD Sgt., CONLEY Lt., BOB DOURTY, Defendants.

          ENTRY SCREENING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

          SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE.

         I. Screening Standard

         Plaintiff Stephen Bowman, a prisoner currently incarcerated at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, brings this case pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his civil rights have been violated. Because Bowman 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).

         II. The Complaint

         Bowman alleges that he notified a number of staff members at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, including Paula Dickinson, Mr. Hollowell, Mr. Pitt, Sgt. Hinton, and Sgt. Marks, that he was afraid another inmate would assault him, that these staff members did not act to protect him, and that he was attacked. He also alleges that Assistant Superintendent Cole, Assistant Superintendent Duane Alsip, and Superintendent Zatecky also did nothing to prevent the assault. Finally, he asserts that grievances he filed after the assault were mishandled.

         III. Discussion of Claims

         Applying the screening standard to the factual allegations in the complaint, certain claims are dismissed while other claims shall proceed.

         A. Claims that are dismissed

         First, any claim against the State of Indiana must be dismissed. Eleventh Amendment immunity bars suits against states and their agencies regardless of the relief sought, whether damages or injunctive relief. Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 58 (1996); Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 102 (1984).

         Next, any claim against Robert Cortes, the Superintendent of the Indiana Department of Correction, must be dismissed because Bowman does not allege that Cortes was personally involved in any of the acts at issue in the complaint. 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.'”).

         Any claim against the Pendleton Correctional Facility is dismissed because the Facility is not a “person” subject to suit under § 1983.

         Next, any claim against Assistant Superintendents Alsip and Cole and Superintendent Zatecky is dismissed. Bowman alleges that these defendants did not help him, but he does not allege that any of these defendants were aware of any risk of harm to him. Guzman v. Sheahan, 495 F.3d 852, 857 (7th Cir. 2007) (to be liable for failure to protect an inmate from assault, an official must be “aware of a substantial risk of ...


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