United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge United States District Court
Davis, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed an amended
complaint against the staff at the Miami 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).
Nevertheless, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, this 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. “In order to state a claim under [42 U.S.C.]
§ 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).
amended complaint, Mr. Davis alleges that, on December 2,
2016, he was moved into a cell with Mr. Randall, a fellow
inmate. Mr. Davis and Mr. Randall didn't get along; the
cellmates had several disagreements, including, who should
have gotten the bottom bunk, when the television should be
off or on, and who should be allowed to visit the cell. Mr.
Randall also tried to intimidate Mr. Davis by staring at Mr.
Davis as he slept, complaining about Mr. Davis' race and
culture, and becoming upset if he heard Mr. Davis urinate in
the cell toilet. Mr. Randall also played chess with himself
at night while speaking strange languages, paced all night,
told Mr. Davis that his mother was suicidal, and sent letters
to the White House. On December 7, Mr. Davis wrote to
Counselor Shultz and asked to be moved. On December 8, Mr.
Davis and Counselor Shultz discussed the issues with Mr.
Randall. Counselor Shultz said that Mr. Davis couldn't be
moved for ninety days and that Mr. Davis had to find a new
cellmate on his own. Mr. Davis tried to discuss his cellmate
issues with Lieutenant Beamer, who supervised the cell house,
but she referred Mr. Davis to the “unit team.”
5, 2017, Mr. Randall attacked Mr. Davis in the cell, causing
third-degree burns on the right side of Mr. Davis's body
with liquid from a hotpot and tearing a ligament in Mr.
Davis's left hand. For hours before the attack, Mr. Davis had
screamed for Counselor Shultz, whose office was thirty feet
from the cell, and had yelled that he needed to be moved from
the cell. Officer Kennell, who was working in the cell house,
also heard Mr. Davis' requests for help. After the
attack, Officers Kennell and Wilson took Mr. Davis to
segregation but were later told by a supervisor and a nurse
that Mr. Davis needed immediate medical care.
7 and June 19, Dr. Marandnet examined Mr. Davis's
injuries and told Mr. Davis that his left hand just needed
time to heal. From June 20 to July 28, Mr. Davis was in
segregation and received little medical care. On July 7, Kim
Myers, a nurse practitioner, recommended X-rays of his left
hand and pain medication. Mr. Davis didn't get the pain
medication until July 15. On August 19, Nurse Abbie and Nurse
Shylenia told Mr. Davis that he no longer needed pads or
cream for his burns and refused to treat him. On August 22,
another nurse arranged for him to continue receiving
treatment. On September 28, X-rays revealed a torn thumb
ligament in the left hand. A physical therapist recommended a
hand brace and told Mr. Davis that surgery might be
necessary. Mr. Davis seeks money damages.
Mr. Davis alleges an Eighth Amendment claim against Counselor
Shultz, Officer Kennell, Lieutenant Beamer, Deputy Warden
Sharon Hawks, Deputy Warden Reggal Timothy, and
Superintendent Kathy Griffin for failing to protect him from
his cellmate. The Eighth Amendment imposes a duty on prison
officials “to take reasonable measures to guarantee the
safety of inmates.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 832 (1994). “[P]rison officials have a duty
to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other
prisoners.” Id. at 833. “[I]n order to
state a section 1983 claim against prison officials for
failure to protect, [a plaintiff] must establish: (1) that he
was incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk
of serious harm and (2) that the defendants acted with
deliberate indifference to his health or safety. Santiago
v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749, 756 (7th Cir. 2010). In the
context of failure to protect cases, the court of appeals has
equated “substantial risk” to “risks so
great that they are almost certain to materialize if nothing
is done.” Brown v. Budz, 398 F.3d 904, 911
(7th Cir. 2005). In such cases, “a prisoner normally
proves actual knowledge of impending harm by showing that he
complained to prison officials about a specific threat to his
safety.” Pope v. Shafer, 86 F.3d 90, 92 (7th
Davis alleges that he had reported his interactions with his
cellmate to Counsel Shultz, who refused to move Mr. Davis to
another cell. He also alleges that both Counselor Shultz and
Officer Kennell heard his cries for help immediately before
the attack but did nothing in response. These allegations
adequately state an Eighth Amendment claim for failure to
Davis also alleges that he tried to tell Lieutenant Beamer
about his cellmate and was directed to the unit team.
Directing a prisoner with a request to the appropriate
department isn't deliberate indifference. See Burks
v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 595 (7th Cir. 2009)
(“Bureaucracies divide tasks; no prisoner is entitled
to insist that one employee do another's job.”).
Next, Mr. Davis alleges that Deputy Warden Hawks approved
moving him to the cell with Mr. Randall, but the complaint
doesn't suggest that Deputy Warden Hawks had reason to
suspect an attack at that point. Moreover, Mr. Davis merely
alleges that Superintendent Griffin and Deputy Warden Timothy
oversaw the operations of the prison. Wardens aren't
liable just because they oversee the operations of the prison
or because they supervise correctional staff. Burks v.
Raemisch, 555 F.3d at 593-94.
Mr. Davis alleges an Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate
indifference against Officers Kennell and Wilson for failing
to obtain medical assistance for Mr. Davis after the attack.
He also asserts a claim against Dr. Marandnet and Nurse
Practitioner Myers for inadequate treatment during his time
in segregation and against Nurse Shylenia and Nurse Abbie for
refusing to treat his burns. Under the Eighth Amendment,
inmates are entitled to adequate medical care. Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). To establish liability,
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 that is 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).
medical professional to be liable for deliberate indifference
to a serious medical need, he or she 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). A 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). The defendants might have responded to Mr.
Davis' injuries as alleged for legitimate reasons, but
when Mr. Davis receives the inferences to which he is
entitled at this stage, he adequately states an Eighth
Amendment claim of deliberate indifference against them.
GRANTS Donald Davis leave to proceed against Counselor Shultz
and Officer Kennell in their individual capacities for money
damages on the Eighth Amendment claim that they failed to
protect him from his cellmate;
GRANTS Donald Davis leave to proceed against Officer Kennell,
Officer Wilson, Dr. Marandnet, Nurse Practitioner Kim Myers,
Nurse Abbie, and Nurse Shylenia in their individual
capacities for money damages on the Eighth Amendment claim
that they were deliberately indifference to serious medical
needs in relation to his burns and left hand injury.
DISMISSES Lieutenant Beamer, Deputy Warden Sharon Hawks,
Deputy Warden Reggal Timothy, ...