United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. United States District Judge.
Davis, a prisoner representing himself, filed a complaint
against eight defendants at the Miami Correctional Facility.
The court must review the complaint and dismiss it if the
action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim, or
seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from
such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (b). Courts apply the
same standard under Section 1915A as when addressing a motion
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir.
2006). To survive dismissal, a complaint must state a claim
for relief that is plausible on its face. Bissessur v.
Indiana Univ. Bd. of Trs., 581 F.3d 599, 602-03 (7th
Cir. 2009). “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.” Id. at 603. Thus,
a “plaintiff must do better than putting a few words on
paper that, in the hands of an imaginative reader,
might suggest that something has happened to her
that might be redressed by the law.”
Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th
Cir.2010) (emphasis in original). “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
Davis is an inmate housed at the Miami prison. His complaint
alleges that in December 2016, he was moved into a cell in
which he was housed with Offender Randall. Mr. Davis and Mr.
Randall did not get along with one another. Mr. Davis sent
Unit Team Counselor Shultz a letter indicating that he wanted
be moved into a different cell because he was having problems
with his new roommate. Mr. Davis then made the same request
in person. He wasn't moved. Six months later, on June 5,
2017, Mr. Randall threw boiling hot water onto Mr. Davis,
then hit Mr. Davis in the head with a hot pot. Mr. Davis
suffered third degree burns and an injured hand. Mr. Davis
sues Superintendent Kathy Griffin, Assistant Superintendent
Reggal, Director of Operational Support Sharon Hawk,
Lieutenant Supervisor Beamer, Counselor Shultz, Offender
Randall, and unknown officers medical staff for money
Davis first complains that Counselor Shultz failed to protect
him from Offender Randall. When one inmate attacks another,
the Constitution is violated only if “deliberate
indifference by prison officials effectively condones the
attack by allowing it to happen.” Haley v.
Gross, 86 F.3d 630, 640 (7th Cir. 1996). The defendant
“must both be aware of facts from which the inference
could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm
exists, and he must also draw the inference.”
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). Mr.
Davis alleges that six months before the attack he told
Counselor Shultz that he was not getting along with Offender
Randall. That isn't enough for Counselor Shultz to be
held to have been deliberately indifferent.
are dangerous places. Housing the most aggressive among us,
they place violent people in close quarters.”
McGill v. Duckworth, 944 F.2d 344, 345 (7th Cir.
1991), abrogated on other grounds by Haley v. Gross,
86 F.3d at 640 (7th Cir. 1996).
Some level of brutality . . . is inevitable no matter what
the guards do. Worse: because violence is inevitable unless
all prisoners are locked in their cells 24 hours a day and
sedated (a “solution” posing constitutional
problems of its own) it will always be possible to say that
the guards “should have known” of the risk.
Indeed they should, and do. Applied to a prison, the
objective “should have known” formula of tort law
approaches absolute liability, rather a long distance from
the Supreme Court's standards in Estelle and its
Id. at 348. This is why general requests for help
and expressions of fear are insufficient to alert guards to
the need for action. Klebanowski v. Sheahan, 540
F.3d 633, 639-40 (7th Cir. 2008). Officers must know that
there is a actual threat of future harm. Id. Mr.
Davis doesn't allege that he expressed any specific
threats directed towards him before the attack. Neither does
he allege - nor provide a factual basis that could support a
reasonable inference - that Counselor Shultz had any idea
that there was a specific risk that Mr. Davis might be
attacked. Mr. Davis alleges only that six months before the
attack, he told Counselor Shultz that he didn't get along
with Offender Randall. This complaint does not state a claim
against Counselor Shultz.
Mr. Davis alleges that Superintendent Kathy Griffin,
Assistant Superintendent Reggal, Director Sharon Hawks, and
Lieutenant Beamer are liable as Counselor Shultz's
supervisors. There is no general respondeat superior
liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and these defendants
can't be held liable simply because they oversee
operations at the prison or supervise other correctional
officers. See Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 594
(7th Cir. 2009).
Mr. Davis sues Offender Randall. “In order to state a
claim under § 1983 a plaintiff must allege: (1) that
defendants deprived him of a federal constitutional right;
and (2) that the defendants acted under color of state
law.” Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th
Cir. 2006). Mr. Davis's § 1983 claim has no merit
because Offender Randall isn't a state actor that can be
sued for constitutional violations. See Blum v.
Yaretsky, 457 U.S. 991, 1004 (1982). Accordingly, this
claim must be dismissed.
Mr. Davis complains that various unnamed doctors and nurses
have denied giving him adequate medical care for the injuries
he incurred as a result of the attack. Mr. Davis's
complaint doesn't give the necessary details for this
court to determine if that claim presents a constitutional
violation. Mr. Davis hasn't identified any possible
defendant. He sues “unknown medical doctor and
staff.” He apparently doesn't know the identity of
the doctors and nurses involved in denying him medical
treatment. As a practical matter, his case can't proceed
against unnamed defendants. See Wudtke v. Davel, 128
F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 1997) (“[I]t is pointless to
include lists of anonymous defendants in federal court; this
type of placeholder does not open the door to relation back
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15, nor can it otherwise help the
plaintiff.”). If he chooses to file an amended
complaint, Mr. Davis must include any information he can
provide that may assist in identifying the doctors and
nurses, including a physical description.
even if Mr. Davis had named the doctors and nurses, the
complaint is still too vague to state a claim. In medical
cases, the Constitution is violated only when a defendant was
deliberately indifferent to an inmate's serious medical
needs. Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1369 (7th
Cir. 1997). Without a named defendant, a clear description of
the nature of his medical problem(s), and allegations
establishing that the defendants were deliberately
indifferent, it is impossible to discern whether he has a
complaint is vague, confusing, or lacking in necessary
detail, the court is “within its rights” to
dismiss the complaint with leave to replead. Loubser v.
Thacker, 440 F.3d 439, 443 (7th Cir. 2006). But the
court will strike the complaint and give Mr. Davis a chance
to file an amended complaint. 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 first page.
Merely because he can to file an amended complaint isn't
a reason for him to do so. Mr. Davis should only file an
amended complaint if he thinks that he can address the
deficiencies noted in this order and provide a factual basis
in the body of his complaint for his claims against each
defendant. For these reasons, the court:
(1) STRIKES the amended complaint (ECF 1); and
(2) GRANTS Donald Davis to and including November 20, 2017,
to file an ...