United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER SCREENING COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING FURTHER
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
Jermond King is a prisoner currently incarcerated at New
Castle Correctional Facility (“New Castle”).
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).
plaintiff alleges that, on September 9, 2017, he was
assaulted and stabbed in the face by his cellmate,
Christopher Randall. Mr. King explains that it is the policy
of New Castle that no door is to be opened without an officer
in the pod to assure the safety of the offenders. It is also
the policy at New Castle that doors are not opened for
offenders during the recreation period unless they are going
into their cell and ending their recreation, again for safety
and security reasons. At around 1:30pm, Mr. King saw that
Randall had entered his cell, and the door was closed and
locked. Mr. King went to take a shower, thinking he would be
safe since the doors were not to be opened during the
recreation period. At around 1:45, Randall forced his way
into Mr. King's shower stall and stabbed Mr. King in the
face with a weapon.
King alleges that Officers Heady and McGraff were working in
the M-unit control pod at the relevant time, were aware of
the policy about opening cell doors, and were responsible for
letting Randall out of his cell. He further alleges Captain
Thompson and Major Davis are responsible for implementing the
policy about opening cell doors and failed to adequately
supervise the staff.
Discussion of Complaint
officials have a duty to protect inmates from violent
assaults by other inmates. Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 833 (1994). They incur liability for the breach of
that duty when they were “aware of a substantial risk
of serious injury to [an inmate] but nevertheless failed to
take appropriate steps to protect him from a known
danger.” Guzman v. Sheahan, 495 F.3d 852, 857
(7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Butera v. Cottey, 285 F.3d
601, 605 (7th Cir. 2002)); see also Santiago v.
Walls, 599 F.3d 749, 758-59 (7th Cir. 2010). To state a
claim for failure to protect, Mr. King needs to allege that
(1) he is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial
risk of serious harm, and (2) the defendants acted with
deliberate indifference to that risk. See Farmer,
511 U.S. at 834, 837; Dale v. Poston, 548 F.3d 563,
569 (7th Cir. 2008). Damages for “a deliberate
indifference claim cannot be predicated merely on knowledge
of general risks of violence, ” Weiss v.
Cooley, 230 F.3d 1027, 1032 (7th Cir.2000), or fear of
an unrealized attack, see Babcock v. White, 102 F.3d
267, 270 (7th Cir. 1996).
King's allegations are sufficient to state an Eighth
Amendment failure to protect claim against Sergeant Heady and
Officer Mc Graff. Thus, these claims shall
King alleges that Major Davis had a duty to ensure that he
was living in a safe environment, that Captain Thomas had a
duty to “ensure that the safety, security, and
custodial safeguards” were in place to make sure that
he was safe from harm, and that Lieutenant Krull had a duty
to “make sure that [Mr. King] was safe by enforcing
IDOC Policy and common sense safeguards to his safety.”
Dkt. 1-1 at 11-13.
depends on each defendant's knowledge and actions, not on
the knowledge or actions of persons they supervise.”
Burks v. Raemsich, 555 F.3d 592, 594 (7th Cir.
2009). Merely naming supervisors or high level officials as
defendants who did not participate in or direct or consent to
the constitutional violation does not state a viable claim
because respondeat superior is not sufficient to
support a § 1983 claim. See Childress v.
Walker, 787 F.3d 433, 439-40 (7th Cir. 2015); Gayton
v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 622 (7th Cir. 2010) (“It
is well established that there is no respondeat
superior liability under § 1983.”);
Harper v. Albert, 400 F.3d 1052, 1065 (7th Cir.
Davis, Captain Thomas, and Lieutenant Krull appear to have
been named solely because of their supervisory or
administrative position. There are not sufficient factual
allegations of personal knowledge or involvement made against
Major Davis, Captain Thomas, or Lieutenant Krull to bring
them within the scope of liability for deliberate
indifference. Therefore, the claims against Major Davis,