United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ARTHUR E. PEYTON, Plaintiff,
PFIZER, ELI LILLY & CO., KAREN LEINENBACH, DR., OBGYN, DR. MEREDITH WILLIAMS, DR. ANGELA DEWEESE, I.U. MEDICAL CENTER, DR. ALLEN LADD, Defendants.
ENTRY SCREENING AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND
DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO SHOW CAUSE
WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
Arthur E. Peyton is a prisoner currently incarcerated at
Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (“Wabash
Valley”). 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).
complaint is allegedly brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
and names the following defendants: 1) Pfizer (makers of
Zoloft); 2) Eli Lilly & Co. (makers of Pericocet); 3) Dr.
Karen Leinenbach, OBGYN; 4) Dr. Meredith Williams; 5) Dr.
Angela DeWeese; 6) IU Medical Center; and 7) Dr. Allen Ladd.
The plaintiff also brings products liability claims and
claims of negligence and medical malpractice. The plaintiff
seeks millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive
damages for the death of his son.
plaintiff alleges that Drs. DeWeese, Ladd, Leinenbach, and
Williams prescribed Zoloft and Pericocet to the mother of his
son, Michelle Neuhoff, during her pregnancy. He alleges that
those medications have been proven to cause birth defects. He
alleges that the medical malpractice and poor bedside manner
of Dr. Ladd and Dr. Leinenbach “hastened the death of
Arthur Peyton, Jr and put his parents through extreme
physical and mental torture in violation of the 8th and 9th
Amendments to the United States Constitution.” Dkt. No.
1, p. 4. He alleges that Dr. DeWeese, Obgyn, “also
contributed.” Id. at p. 5. Dr. Williams
allegedly prescribed high doses of Pericocet throughout Ms.
Neuhoff's pregnancy at a time when Eli Lilly and Company
had already released guidance memos about the dangers of
using Pericocet during pregnancy. Id. at pp. 5-6.
Exhibits to the complaint indicate that Arthur E. Peyton, Jr.
was born on October 6, 2011, and died on September 7, 2012.
Dkt. No. 1-1, p. 2.
Section 1983 Claims
state a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that a person acting under color of
state law deprived him of a right secured by the United
States Constitution or laws. London v. RBS Citizens,
N.A., 600 F.3d 742, 745-46 (7th Cir. 2010). Private
persons “may not be sued for merely private conduct, no
matter how discriminatory or wrongful.” Id. at
746 (internal quotation omitted).
the defendants are state actors. They are private citizens
and corporations. “For a private actor to act under
color of state law he must have had a meeting of the minds
and thus reached an understanding with a state actor to deny
plaintiffs a constitutional right.” Wilson v.
Warren County, Ill. 830 F.3d 464 (7th Cir. 2016)
(internal quotation omitted). Even if defendant IU Medical
Center were shown to be a state actor, the plaintiff does not
allege any wrongdoing on the part of that defendant. Without
participation in a constitutional violation, there can be no
liability. Without personal liability, there can be no
recovery under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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….”). Here, because the
defendants did not act under color of state law, the
plaintiff has failed to state a section 1983 claim.
Therefore, all constitutional claims must be dismissed on