United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
ROBERT F. REEVES, Plaintiff,
INDIANA PAROLE BOARD, et. al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge.
F. Reeves, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint
alleging that he is being detained illegally pursuant to the
Indiana Parole Board's actions. The court must review a
prisoner complaint and dismiss it if the action is frivolous
or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (b).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the
dismissal of a complaint, or any portion of a complaint, for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Courts apply the same standard under § 1915A as when
addressing a motion under Rule 12(b)(6). Lagerstrom v.
Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive
a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), 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 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
to the complaint, in April 2017, Mr. Reeves was on parole for
an unspecified offense, when he was arrested and charged with
theft. He was brought before the Indiana Parole Board and he
entered into a Conditional Parole Release Agreement. He
alleges that Indiana Parole Board has miscalculated his
release date under the parole revocation agreement and he is
being wrongfully incarcerated. He sues the Indiana Department
of Correction Parole Board, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and
Westville Correctional Facility Superintendent Mark Sevier.
He seeks release from custody as well as an award of monetary
damages for the time he has spent in prison. ECF 2 at 5.
Reeves hasn't named a proper defendant in connection with
his claim for money damages. To start, he has named the
Indiana Parole Board, but the Eleventh Amendment generally
precludes a citizen from suing a state or one of its agencies
or departments for money damages in federal court. Wynn
v. Southward, 251 F.3d 588, 592 (7th Cir. 2001). There
are three exceptions to Eleventh Amendment immunity: (1)
suits against state officials seeking prospective equitable
relief for ongoing violations of federal law are not barred
by the Eleventh Amendment; (2) individuals may sue a state
directly if Congress has abrogated the state's immunity
from suit; and (3) individuals may sue the state if the state
waived its sovereign immunity and consented to suit in
federal court. MCI Telecommunications Corp. v.
Ill. Commerce Comm'n, 183 F.3d 558, 563 (7th Cir.
1999). The Indiana Parole Board is a state agency. Wynn
v. Southward, 251 F.3d at 592. None of the exceptions to
Eleventh Amendment immunity apply: Mr. Reeves hasn't
named a responsible state official as a defendant, Indiana
hasn't consented to this suit, and Congress didn't
abrogate the State's immunity through the enactment of
§ 1983. See Joseph v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of
Wis. Sys., 432 F.3d 746, 748 (7th Cir. 2005).
Reeves also names Governor Holcomb and Superintendent Sevier as
defendants. Nowhere in the complaint does Mr. Reeves allege
that either of them are responsible for the harm he complains
of. Because § 1983 creates a cause of action for damages
based on personal liability, Mr. Reeves must show that the
defendants' personal involvement or direct responsibility
led to the conditions of which he complains. Starzenski
v. City of Elkhart, 87 F.3d 872, 879 (7th Cir. 1996). To
do state a claim, Mr. Reeves must plausibly allege a causal
link between the defendants' conduct and his injury.
Benson v. Cady, 761 F.3d 335, 339 (7th Cir. 1985).
This he has not done. Without more, it's not plausible to
conclude that either of these defendants can be held
responsible for the Indiana Parole Board's actions.
Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.2d 592, 596 (7th Cir. 2009)
(noting that section 1983 defendants “are responsible
for their own misdeeds but not for anyone
Mr. Reeves's request for release from prison, this type
of relief can only be pursued in a habeas corpus proceeding
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 488 (1973) (habeas corpus is
the exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the
fact or duration of his confinement); Williams v.
Wisconsin, 336 F.3d 576, 579 (7th Cir. 2003) (observing
that “collateral attacks disguised as civil rights
actions should be dismissed”). Mr. Reeves acknowledges
as much. ECF 2 at 6. If his goal is to be released from
custody, he will have to pursue habeas relief.
this complaint doesn't state a claim against any
defendant upon which relief can be granted, the court will
give Mr. Reeves an opportunity to file an amended complaint
if he believes that he can address these deficiencies.
See Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014 (7th Cir.
these reasons, the court:
(1) DIRECTS the clerk to place this cause number on a blank
Prisoner Complaint form and mail it to Robert F. Reeves,
along with a copy of this order; and
(2) GRANTS Robert F. Reeves until January 22, 2018,
to file an amended complaint.
Reeves doesn't respond by that deadline, this case will
be dismissed without further notice pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A because the current complaint does not state a