United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge, United States District Court
Davis, a pro se prisoner, filed an amended complaint
alleging that he is being denied mental health treatment at
the Westville Correctional Facility. “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 (2007). The
court must review the merits of the allegations in a prisoner
complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Davis alleges that he was getting mental health treatment
while he was housed at the Pendleton Correctional Facility.
He complains that once he was transferred to Westville in
2014 he was placed in segregation, taken off his medication,
and not given any mental health treatment. He notified Mr.
Taylor, the lead psychologist at Westville, that he was
having complications with his mental health, but Mr. Taylor
ignored him. Mr. Davis seeks injunctive relief in the form of
mental health treatment and also money damages against
Corizon Healthcare, Mr. Taylor, and a group of unnamed
defendants he has labeled as “et al.”
the Eighth Amendment, inmates are entitled to adequate
medical care. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104
(1976). To establish a constitutional violation, a prisoner
must satisfy both an objective and subjective component by
showing: (1) his medical need was objectively serious; and
(2) the defendant acted with deliberate indifference to that
medical need. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834
(1994). A medical need is “serious” if it is one
that a physician has diagnosed as mandating treatment, or one
so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the
necessity for a doctor's attention. Greeno v.
Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). Deliberate
indifference means that the defendant “acted in an
intentional or criminally reckless manner, i.e., the
defendant must have known that the plaintiff was at serious
risk of being harmed and decided not to do anything to
prevent that harm from occurring even though he could have
easily done so.” Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d
469, 478 (7th Cir. 2005).
liable for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need,
a medical professional must make a decision that represents
“such a substantial departure from accepted
professional judgment, practice, or standards, as to
demonstrate that the person responsible actually did not base
the decision on such a judgment.” Jackson v.
Kotter, 541 F.3d 688, 697 (7th Cir. 2008). Mere
disagreement with medical professionals about the appropriate
course of treatment doesn't establish deliberate
indifference, nor does negligence or even medical
malpractice. Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751
(7th Cir. 2011).
light on detail, the complaint suggests that Mr. Taylor knew
that Mr. Davis needed medication and mental health treatment,
but refused to provide it to him. That allegation adequately
states an Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference
against Mr. Taylor.
Mr. Davis sues Corizon Healthcare, the private company that
provided medical care at the prison. He appears to be trying
to hold the company liable because it employs the mental
health provider that denied him treatment. An employer
generally isn't liable under § 1983 for what an
employee does. Chavez v. Ill. State Police, 251 F.3d
612, 651 (7th Cir. 2001); see also Johnson v.
Dossey, 515 F.3d 778, 782 (7th Cir. 2008) (“[A]
private corporation is not vicariously liable under §
1983 for its employees' deprivations of others' civil
rights.”). While a private company performing a state
function can be held liable to the same extent as a state
actor under Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of
New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), Rice v. Corr. Med.
Servs., 675 F.3d 650, 675 (7th Cir. 2012), Mr. Davis
doesn't include any allegations from which it can be
plausibly inferred that Corizon Healthcare had an
unconstitutional practice or policy that caused his injury.
Instead, the gist of Mr. Davis's claim is that medical
staff failed to give proper care to him for his mental health
needs. Mr. Davis hasn't plausibly alleged a claim against
Mr. Davis sues an undetermined and unnamed group of
defendants, only identifying them as “et al.”
“[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.” Wudtke v.
Davel, 128 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 1997) (citations
omitted). The unnamed defendants will be dismissed.
these reasons, the court:
(1) GRANTS Sonny Davis leave to proceed on a claim against
Mr. Taylor in his individual capacity for money damages for
denying him mental health treatment in violation of the
(2) GRANTS Sonny Davis leave to proceed against Mr. Taylor on
an injunctive relief claim to obtain mental health treatment,
as required by the Eighth Amendment;
(3) DISMISSES all other claims;
(4) DISMISSES Corizon Healthcare and et. al.;
(5) DIRECTS the clerk and the United States Marshals Service
to issue and serve process on Mr. Taylor at the Indiana
Department of Correction with a copy of this order and the
amended complaint (ECF ...