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Pritt v. Correct Care Services

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

January 10, 2018

STEVEN W. PRITT, Plaintiff,
CORRECT CARE SERVICES, et al. Defendants.




         The plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated at New Castle Correctional Facility.

         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).

         The plaintiff brings this action against the defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges that he was housed at the Marion County Jail (“MCJ”) on three separate occasions for court hearings-December 10-17, 2015; July 12-21, 2016; and February 17-21, 2017. During each of these occasions, the plaintiff alleges that he was denied medications for his heart condition and mental health issues. These denials were at times caused by a policy of defendant Correct Care Solutions, which prohibits inmates from retaining or having access to their medications when they are transferred to MCJ and during the first few days of incarceration there. He also alleges that several of the defendants simply denied him his medication and that he was at times told he could have it once he returned to his normal correctional facility. The plaintiff alleges that these denials caused him significant injury, including the risk of death. He seeks injunctive relief and compensatory damages.

         A. Properly Joined Claims

         The plaintiff's allegations are sufficient to state Eighth Amendment medical claims against Nurse Pamela Hansen, Nurse Debra Darlene Clemons, Tracy Roberts, H. Clark, Megan Andrews, Nurse Alexander Shelton, Megan Matthews, Lauren Kannaple, Laura Poland, Jennifer Eidson, Nurse Brian Carter, Hadley Wheatcraft, Melissa Rigney, and Heather Michelle Clark. He also states an Eighth Amendment policy or practice claim against Correct Care Solutions.

         However, the plaintiff's claims against unknown John Doe or Jane Doe defendants must be dismissed. “[I]t is pointless to include [an] anonymous defendant [ ] 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) (internal citations omitted).

         Additionally, to the extent the plaintiff wishes to bring a constitutional claim based on a denial of the grievance process, such allegations fail to state a constitutional violation. The Seventh Circuit has “specifically denounc[ed] a Fourteenth Amendment substantive due-process right to an inmate grievance procedure.” Grieveson v. Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 772 (7th Cir. 2008). As explained in Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1430-31 (7th Cir. 1996), “any right to a grievance procedure is a procedural right, not a substantive one. Accordingly, a state's inmate grievance procedures do not give rise to a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause.” Id. at 1430-31 (citations omitted).

         B. Misjoined Claims

         The plaintiff also asserts an Eighth Amendment claim against Melissa Rigney and a Jane Doe nurse. He alleges that on December 13, 2016, they gave him a medication to which he had an adverse reaction, including memory loss. In George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007), the Seventh Circuit explained that “[u]nrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits.” When unrelated claims are brought in the same suit, “[t]he court may . . . sever any claim against a party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 21. The purpose of this rule is “not only ‘to prevent the sort of morass' produced by multi-claim, multi-defendants suits like this one, but also to ensure that prisoners pay all fees required under the Prison Litigation Reform Act.” Owens v. Hinsley, 635 F.3d 950, 952 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting George, 507 F.3d at 952).

         This unrelated claim against different defendants “belong[s] in [a] different suit[].” George, 507 F.3d 952. As the master of his complaint, the plaintiff shall be given the opportunity to determine which course is followed, as set forth ...

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