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Tripp v. Carter

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

October 13, 2017

TERRY TRIPP, Plaintiff,
v.
ROB CARTER Commissioner I.D.O.C., BRIAN SMITH Warden Putnamville Correctional Facility, CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS Putnamville Correctional Facility, Defendants.

          ENTRY SCREENING AMENDED COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         I. Screening Standard

         The plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated at Putnamville Correctional Facility (“Putnamville”). His original complaint was dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Instead of dismissing the action, the plaintiff was given the opportunity to file an amended complaint. He has done so. The amended complaint is now subject to the screening requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). 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

         The plaintiff brings his claims against the defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges that the defendants, Brian Smith, Chris Williams, and Rob Carter, retaliated against him for accessing the institution's grievance process. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that defendant Brian Smith, Warden of Putnamville, ordered prison staff to reassign the plaintiff to a job cleaning toilets in retaliation for filing grievances related to his exclusion from work based upon his use of the law library and his reassignment to a less desirable job based upon “profiling” by the classification supervisor.

         The plaintiff alleges that defendant Chris Williams ordered prison staff to search the plaintiff's cell in retaliation for filing grievances alleging that Williams “covered for staff misconduct” when Williams responded to inmate grievances. This cell search resulted in the confiscation of his prison litigation manual and a conduct report.

         The plaintiff alleges that Rob Carter, IDOC Commissioner, covers for staff misconduct.

         The amended complaint includes additional allegations of misconduct against prison staff not named as defendants in the amended complaint.

         III. Discussion of Claims

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

         First, the plaintiffs allegations against people not named as defendants in the amended complaint are dismissed. Myles v. United States, 416 F.3d 551, 551-52 (7th Cir. 2005) (“[T]o make someone a party the plaintiff must specify him in the caption and arrange for service of process.”) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a) (“In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties.”)).

         Second, the claim against the Indiana Department of Correction Commissioner Rob Carter is dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The only allegation against him is that he covers for staff misconduct. This allegation is too vague and fails to allege personal involvement by the Commissioner in the alleged retaliation against the plaintiff. “A 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.'”) (citation and quotation mark omitted). The plaintiff's ...


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