United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING FURTHER
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated at Westville
Correctional Facility (“Westville”). 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).
Augustus Gaines is a state prisoner who filed this civil
action alleging that his civil rights were violated while he
was a pretrial detainee held at the Marion County Jail. The
plaintiff raises two separate claims for which he seeks money
Mr. Gaines alleges that he has a bone disorder (ostrel
chondritis dissecans) which causes pain when he stands or
attempts to stand. He informed the nurse of his condition
when he arrived at the Marion County Jail on December 7,
2016. Later that same day, Mr. Gaines was told by an
unidentified person that he could not stay in the medical
unit and would have to go up the stairs to his cell. When Mr.
Gaines walked up the stairs very slowly and with help from
other inmates he heard something pop in his back. Twenty
minutes later Mr. Gaines attempted to descend the stairs to
get his medications. Half way down the stairs his legs gave
out and his back popped again at which time he fell down the
stairs. The medical department was called and Mr. Gaines was
taken to the hospital. X-rays were taken and while no bones
were broken, Mr. Gaines never walked again and has been
confined in a wheelchair ever since. Mr. Gaines has sued the
Warden of the Marion County Jail for not placing him on the
bottom tier or base floor of the jail.
Mr. Gaines has sued “the medical staff” at the
Marion County Jail for making false accusations and placing
him “into a suicide tank for 4 days” in violation
of his federally secured rights.
preliminary matter, the complaint is deficient because Mr.
Gaines cannot use a single complaint to bring unrelated
claims against different defendants. “Unrelated claims
against different defendants belong in different suits”
so as to prevent prisoners from dodging the fee payment or
three strikes provisions in the Prison Litigation Reform Act.
George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).
Consequently, “multiple claims against a single party
are fine, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be
joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2.”
George, 507 F.3d at 607. Accordingly, the claim
against the Warden based on the second floor bunk placement
and the claim against the medical staff for placing Mr.
Gaines on suicide watch for four days should not be brought
in the same lawsuit. The complaint is rejected on this basis.
addition, the complaint fails to state a claim upon which
relief could be granted. The claims in the complaint are
necessarily brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States and must show that the alleged deprivation
was committed by a person acting under color of state law.
West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). “A
damages suit under § 1983 requires that a defendant be
personally involved in the alleged constitutional
deprivation.” Matz v. Klotka, 769 F.3d 517,
528 (7th Cir. 2014); see Minix v. Canarecci, 597
F.3d 824, 833 (7th Cir. 2010) (“[I]ndividual liability
under § 1983 requires ‘personal involvement in the
alleged constitutional deprivation.'”) (citation
and quotation marks omitted). See also 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, not on the knowledge or actions of
persons they supervise. . . . Monell's rule [is
that] that public employees are responsible for their own
misdeeds but not for anyone else's.”)(citing
Monell v. New York City Dep't of Social Services,
436 U.S. 658 (1978)).
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief could be
granted because the complaint has not named any
“person” who is allegedly responsible for
violating Mr. Gaines' federally protected rights. The
claims against the “medical defendants” are
dismissed because a group of people is not a
“person” subject to suit pursuant to Section
1983. Similarly, the Warden must be dismissed because a
defendant can only be liable for the actions or omissions in
which he personally participated. Sanville v.
McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724, 734 (7th Cir. 2001).
“Because vicarious liability is inapplicable to . . .
§ 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each
Government-official defendant, through the official's own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1948 (2009).
There is no allegation which suggests that the Warden was
aware of Mr. Gaines's condition and ordered that he be
placed on the second floor.
Dismissal of Action
plaintiffs complaint must be dismissed for each of the
reasons set forth above. The plaintiff shall have
through February 8, 2018, in which to show
cause why Judgment consistent with this Entry should not
issue. See Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722
F.3d 1014, 1022 (7th Cir. 2013) (“Without at least an
opportunity to amend or to respond to an order to show cause,
an IFP applicant's case could be tossed out of court