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Easley v. Snelling

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

December 13, 2017

WILLIAM HENRY EASLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
SNELLING, GILTNER, LIMBACH, NUTTER, BEARD, Defendants.

          ENTRY SCREENING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

          SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE

         Plaintiff William Easley is an inmate at the Clark County Jail. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the defendants, who are officers at the Jail, have violated his civil rights.

         I. Screening Standard

         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).

         II. The Complaint[1]

         Easley alleges that, on July 21, 2017, Giltner “ran up in [his] face in an aggressive and threatening manner” and called him a “faggot bitch.” He also asserts that on August 6, 2017, Giltner and Limbach required to him eat breakfast on the dirty dayroom floor. He further states that Giltner and Limbach did not allow him to go to the bathroom. He says that inmates were denied phone privileges that day and for a whole week they were stripped of their broom and dustpan and other cleaning supplies. These lockdown actions were at the instructions of Captain Nutter and Mr. Beard. Finally, he says that Giltner told another inmate he was sending him to the “hole” for writing a grievance.

         III. Discussion of Claims

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

         Any claim that Giltner called Easley names must be dismissed. See DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607, 612 (7th Cir. 2000) (“The use of racially derogatory language, while unprofessional and deplorable, does not violate the Constitution.”) (citing Patton v. Przybylski, 822 F.2d 697, 700 (7th Cir. 1987).

         The allegations that at the instruction of Captain Nutter and Mr. Beard, Giltner and Limbach required to him eat breakfast on the dirty dayroom floor, did not allow him to go to the bathroom, and stripped inmates of their broom and dustpan and other cleaning supplies shall proceed as a claim that these defendants subjected Easley to unconstitutionally harsh living conditions. It is unclear whether Easley was a convicted inmate or a pre-trial detainee at the time of these incidents. If he was a pre-trial detainee, these claims shall proceed under the Fourteenth Amendment. If he was a convicted inmate, the claims shall proceed under the Eighth Amendment.

         The claim that Giltner stated that he was sending Easley to the “hole” for filing grievances shall proceed as a claim that Giltner retaliated against Easley in violation of the First Amendment.

         Any claim against defendant Snelling is dismissed because Easley does not allege that Snelling personally participated in any of the alleged violations of his rights. Matz v. Klotka, 769 F.3d 517, 528 (7th Cir. 2014) (“A damages suit under § 1983 requires that a defendant be personally involved in the ...


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