United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
ANTHONY C. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
RON O'NEIL, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
C. Martin, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a second
amended complaint (ECF 29) naming 72 defendants and making
numerous allegations about events which occurred from March
10, 2015, to July 5, 2016. “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) (quotation marks and citations omitted). Nevertheless,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must review the
merits of 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.
preliminary matter, Martin lists unnamed defendants in many
of his claims. But, “it 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). Therefore, each
unnamed defendant will be dismissed without further
alleges that on March 10, 2015, Unit Manager Pam Bane,
Assistant Warden Gann, Lt. Hough, Counselor Sherry Hatchel,
Counselor Jones, Case Manager Wilson, Sgt. Jonnas, and Lt.
St. Martin retaliated against him for filing numerous
grievances and complaints between January and March of 2015
by putting him in a cell without a working toilet or running
water for 17 days. The cell smelled of feces from the toilet,
and he had to use the restroom in styrofoam containers and
empty water bottles. His cell was freezing at times, and at
other times he was subjected to excessive heat. Martin was
provided with limited amounts of water. And, from March 10,
2015, to March 19, 2015, he was denied access to a shower.
“To prevail on his First Amendment retaliation claim,
[Martin] must show that (1) he engaged in activity protected
by the First Amendment; (2) he suffered a deprivation that
would likely deter First Amendment activity in the future;
and (3) the First Amendment activity was at least a
motivating factor in the Defendants' decision to take the
retaliatory action.” Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d
859, 866 (7th Cir. 2012) (quotation marks and citations
omitted). Martin may proceed against these eight defendants
on this claim.
Martin alleges that the actions of these same eight
defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights. “[T]he
Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons....”
Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349 (1981).
Conditions that merely cause inconveniences and discomfort or
make confinement unpleasant do not rise to the level of
Constitutional violations. Adams v. Pate, 445 F.2d
105, 108-109 (7th Cir. 1971).
Conditions of confinement must be severe to support an Eighth
Amendment claim; “the prison officials' act or
omission must result in the denial of ‘the minimal
civilized measure of life's necessities.'”
Farmer [v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834
(1994)] (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337,
347 (1981)). See also, Lunsford v. Bennett, 17 F.3d
1574, 1579 (7th Cir. 1994) (the Eighth Amendment only
protects prisoners from conditions that “exceed
contemporary bounds of decency of a mature, civilized
society.”); Jackson [v. Duckworth, ]
955 F.2d [21, ] 22 [(7th Cir. 1992)].
Morissette v. Peters, 45 F.3d 1119, 1123 (7th Cir.
1995) (parallel citations omitted). He has stated an Eighth
Amendment claim against these eight defendants.
alleges that Officer Zimmerman, Officer Houston, and three
unknown officers called him names while he was housed in this
cell. But mere verbal harassment does not state a claim.
See DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607, 612 (7th Cir.
2000) (rude language or verbal harassment by prison staff
“while unprofessional and deplorable, does not violate
alleges that on March 26, 2015, Officer Zimmerman and Lt.
Hough sprayed him with a chemical agent while he was in his
cell and not being combative or otherwise resisting. The
“core requirement” for an excessive force claim
is that the defendant “used force not in a good-faith
effort to maintain or restore discipline, but maliciously and
sadistically to cause harm.” Hendrickson v.
Cooper, 589 F.3d 887, 890 (7th Cir. 2009) (internal
citation omitted). “[T]he question whether the measure
taken inflicted unnecessary and wanton pain and suffering
ultimately turns on whether force was applied in a good faith
effort to maintain or restore discipline or maliciously and
sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm.”
Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 320-21 (1986)
(quotation marks and citation omitted). Martin states a claim
against these two defendants for excessive use of force in
violation of the Eighth Amendment.
alleges that Lt. Wilson, Lt. Hough, Capt. Yancy, Capt.
Easton, Lt. Tatum, Sgt. Phillips, Sgt. Henney, Officer
Zimmerman, Officer Robee (male), Dawn Nelson, Nurse Sandy,
Nurse Morgan, and Jennifer Chapman did not properly
decontaminate him after he was sprayed with the chemical
agent and, as a result, he suffers permanent loss of vision.
Martin will be permitted to proceed against these defendants
on his claim that they are liable to him under the Eighth
Amendment for his loss of vision.
March 26, 2016, Martin alleges that Officer Zimmerman,
Officer Pete (IDU), Officer Kapica, Officer Potrictri,
Officer Hedgewood, Officer Bolton, Officer Houston, Sgt.
Conley, Sgt. Phillips, Sgt. Henney, Officer Tiderman, Officer
Morsby, Officer Stuber, Officer Robee (male), Lt. Tatum, Lt.
Wilson, Lt. Hough, Capt. Yancy, Major Tibbles, and seven
Unknown E-Squad (CERT) Officers used physical force against
him. Martin did not provide many details about this event,
but it is plausible to infer he is alleging that he was not
resisting or threatening the officers and that they
maliciously and sadistically assaulted him for the purpose of
causing harm. With that inference, he states a claim against
these nineteen named defendants for an excessive use of force
in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
alleges that Lt. Wilson, Lt. Watson, Lt. Tatum, Lt. Hough,
Sgt. Henny, Sgt. Conley, Officer Zimmerman, Officer Pete
(IDU) shackled him to a concrete block with four-way
restraints from March 26, 2015, until March 29, 2015. He
alleges this was done at the direction of Capt. Yancy, Capt.
Shriner, Major Tibbles, Assistant Warden Gann, Dr. Matis,
Dawn Nelson, Nurse Morgan, and Jennifer Chapman. During those
four days, he was not provided with any food or water. He
alleges he soiled himself because he could not get up. He
alleges he was ultimately released and taken to the hospital
because he was unresponsive. These are extreme and disturbing
allegations. The use of four-way restraints can be
justifiable for purposes of control in response to specific
instances of misbehavior. Bruscino v. Carlson, 854
F.2d 162, 164 (7th Cir. 1988). However, “while some
form of temporary restraint may be necessary against those
who pose a threat to themselves and others, [some] methods
are ‘too close to the rack and the screw to permit of
constitutional differentiation.'” French v.
Owens, 777 F.2d 1250, 1253-54 (7th Cir. 1985) (citations
[O]nce restraints are initially justified, it becomes
somewhat problematic as to how long they are necessary to
meet the particular exigent circumstances which precipitated
their use. The basic legal principle is that once the
necessity for the application of force ceases, any continued
use of harmful force can be a violation of the
[Constitution], and any abuse directed at the prisoner after
he terminates his resistance to authority is [a
Constitutional] violation. How long restraint may be
continued calls for the exercise of good judgment on the part
of prison officials. Once it is established that the force
was applied in a good faith effort to maintain discipline and
not maliciously or sadistically for the purpose of causing
harm, the courts give great deference to the actions of
prison officials in applying prophylactic or preventive
measures intended to reduce the incidence of riots and other
breaches of prison discipline.
Williams v. Burton, 943 F.2d 1572, 1576 (11th Cir.
1991) (citations omitted). Martin's allegations that he
was continuously held in four-way restraints without food,
water, or medical care while injured and ultimately
unresponsive state a claim against these sixteen individuals.
Martin will be permitted to proceed against these sixteen
individuals on his Eighth Amendment claim that he was
subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.
further alleges that while in restraints Dawn Nelson, Nurse
Sandy, Nurse Morgan, Nurse Domonique, LPN Jennifer Chapman,
Director of Nursing Anne, and Dr. Thompson each knew he was
injured from having been beaten and that he was in need of
medical treatment, which they refused to provide. “For
a medical professional to be liable for deliberate
indifference to an inmate's medical needs, he 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) (quotation
marks and citations omitted). These allegations state a claim
against these seven defendants for denying him medical care.
Martin does not mention what these seven defendants did in
response to their knowledge he was in four-way restraints,
but it is reasonable to infer that he is alleging they failed
to intervene to stop the improper use of four-way restraints.
A prison official “can be held liable under § 1983
if [he] (1) had reason to know that a fellow officer was . .
. committing a constitutional violation, and (2) had a
realistic opportunity to intervene to prevent the act from
occurring.” Lewis v. Downey, 581 F.3d 467, 472
(7th Cir. 2009). These allegations state a claim against
these seven defendants for failure to intervene.
alleges that on April 11, 2015 and April 12, 2015, he was
denied food by Officer Pete (IDU), Officer Redden, and
unknown officers. And, on April 18, 2015, these same officers
either denied him food or spat in his food before giving it
to him. Not every denial of food violates the
Constitution. Reed v. McBride, 178 F.3d 849, 853-54
(7th Cir. 1999). The amount and duration of the denial must
be considered, but two continuous days without any food is
sufficient to state a claim. Martin will be permitted to
proceed against Officer Pete (IDU) and Officer Redden on this
alleges that from March 11, 2015, to April 24, 2015, Unit
Manager Pam Bane, Counselor Sherry Hatchel, Case Worker
Wilson, Counselor Moniham, Counselor Jones, Vicky Long, Pam
James, Officer Hedgewood, Officer Zimmerman, Officer
Potrictri, Officer Stuber, Officer Morsby, Officer Anton,
Officer Houston, Officer Slaughterman, Officer Tiderman,
Officer Kapica, Officer Bolton, Officer Pete (IDU), Officer
Robee (male), Officer Selas, Officer Crawford, Officer
Redden, Sgt. Jonnas, Sgt. Henney, Sgt. Wilson, Sgt. Henry,
Sgt. Conley, Sgt. Phillips, Lt. St. Martin, Lt. Cavanar, Lt.
Tatum, Lt. Watson, Lt. Wilson, Lt. Hough, Capt. Easton, Capt.
Shriner, Capt. Yancy, and Major Tibbles destroyed his
property (including legal materials) and denied him access to
the court. He alleges that entire client files and
transcripts were destroyed, and that the public defender will
only give him one copy for free. The Fourteenth Amendment
provides that state officials shall not “deprive any
person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of
law . . ..” But, a state tort claims act that provides
a method by which a person can seek reimbursement for the
negligent loss or intentional depravation of property meets
the requirements of the due process clause by providing due
process of law. Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533
(1984) (“For intentional, as for negligent deprivations
of property by state employees, the state's action is not
complete until and unless it provides or refuses to provide a
suitable post deprivation remedy.”) Indiana's tort
claims act (Indiana Code § 34-13-3-1 et seq.)
and other laws provide for state judicial review of property
losses caused by government employees, and provide an
adequate post-deprivation remedy to redress state
officials' accidental or intentional deprivation of a
person's property. See Wynn v. Southward, 251
F.3d 588, 593 (7th Cir. 2001) (“Wynn has an adequate
post-deprivation remedy in the Indiana Tort Claims Act, and
no more process was due.”). Even the destruction of
legal materials is merely a property loss if the papers are
replaceable. Hossman v. Spradlin, 812 F.2d 1019 (7th
Cir. 1987). While Martin has alleged that he cannot obtain
new copies of the materials for free, that does not make the
materials irreplaceable because he can bring a lawsuit to
recover damages sufficient to purchase a replacement copy.
has he stated a claim for a denial of access to courts.
Prisoners are entitled to meaningful access to the courts.
Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 824 (1977). The right
of access to the courts is the right of an individual,
whether free or incarcerated, to obtain access to the courts
without undue interference. Snyder v. Nolen, 380
F.3d 279, 291 (7th Cir. 2004). The right of individuals to
pursue legal redress for claims that have a reasonable basis
in law or fact is protected by the First Amendment right to
petition and the Fourteenth Amendment right to substantive
due process. Id. (citations omitted). Denial of
access to the courts must be intentional; “simple
negligence will not support a claim that an official has
denied an individual of access to the courts.”
Id. at 291 n.11 (citing Kincaid v. Vail,
969 F.2d 594, 602 (7th Cir. 1992)). To establish a violation
of the right to access the courts, an inmate must show that
unjustified acts or conditions (by defendants acting under
color of law) hindered the inmate's efforts to pursue a
non-frivolous legal claim, Nance v. Vieregge, 147
F.3d 591, 590 (7th Cir. 1998), and that actual injury (or
harm) resulted. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351
(1996) (holding that Bounds did not eliminate the
actual injury requirement as a constitutional prerequisite to
a prisoner asserting lack of access to the courts); see
also Pattern Civil Jury Instructions of the Seventh
Circuit, 8.02 (rev. 2017). In other words, “the mere
denial of access to a prison law library or to other legal
materials is not itself a violation of a prisoner's
rights; his right is to access the courts, ”
and only if the defendants' conduct prejudices a
potentially meritorious legal claim has the right been
infringed. Mars ...