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Seal v. Richardson

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

March 27, 2018

ROBERT A SEAL, Plaintiff,
RONALD RICHARDSON Sheriff, Madison County, ANDY WILLIAMS Jail Commander, Madison County, MICHELLE SUMPTER Supervisor, Madison County, Defendants.


          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge United States District Court.

         I. Motion for Leave

         Plaintiff Robert A. Seal's motion for leave to file amended prisoner complaint, Dkt. No. 56, is granted. Mr. Seal had until March 30, 2018 to amend his Complaint, see Dkt. No. 54, which he did on March 22, 2018. The clerk shall re-docket the proposed Amended Complaint (Dkt. No. 56-1) as the Amended Complaint.

         II. Screening Standard

         Plaintiff Robert Seal is a prisoner currently incarcerated at the Indiana State Prison. Because Mr. Seal is a “prisoner” as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h), the amended complaint is subject to the screening requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Pursuant to this statute, “[a] complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim if the allegations, taken as true, show that plaintiff is not entitled to relief.” Jones v. Bock, 127 S.Ct. 910, 921 (2007). To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. . . . A claim has facial plausibility when 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quotations omitted). Pro se complaints such as that filed by 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).

         III. Background

         Mr. Seal filed his original complaint on October 11, 2016. That complaint named four defendants: (1) Ronald Richardson, (2) Andy Williams, (3) Michelle Sumpter; and (4) Madison County. Mr. Seal alleged that his rights under Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) were violated when he was not provided with a halal diet. He further alleged that his First Amendment rights were violated.

         The Court screened the complaint on December 7, 2016, and allowed his RLUIPA claims against all defendants and his First Amendment claims against Richardson, Williams and Sumpter to proceed. The Court dismissed his First Amendment claim against Madison County.

         On February 13, 2017, defendants filed a motion to dismiss seeking partial dismissal of certain claims. On March 17, 2017, the Court granted in part and denied in part defendants' motion to dismiss. Dkt. No. 21. The RLUIPA claim against Madison County was dismissed. Any claim for injunctive relief was also dismissed. Finally, any First Amendment claim against any defendant in his or her official capacity was dismissed.

         IV. Mr. Seal's New Allegations and Claims

         In his amended complaint, Mr. Seal wishes to add additional claims. Specifically, he wishes to add claims against Richardson, Williams and Sumpter for violation of Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) Indiana Code § 34-13-9-0.7, et seq. He further asserts that Richardson, Williams and Sumpter violated his Eighth Amendment rights through deliberate indifference towards his dietary needs, cruelty by subjecting him to sleep deprivation, and deliberate indifference towards his medical needs.

         The Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment prohibits the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain. Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986). Pursuant to the Eighth Amendment, prison officials have a duty to provide humane conditions of confinement, meaning, they must take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates and ensure that they receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994).

         Mr. Seal alleges that Richardson, Williams, and Sumpter violated his Eighth Amendment rights because he was subjected to sleep deprivation tactics. However, his allegations are insufficient to state a claim against Richardson, Williams, or Sumpter as he fails to identify how they are individually responsible for the sleep deprivation. “Individual liability under § 1983… requires personal involvement in the alleged constitutional deprivation.” Colbert v. City of Chicago, 851 F.3d 649, 657 (7th Cir. 2017) (internal quotation omitted) (citing Wolf-Lillie v. Sonquist, 699 F.2d 864, 869 (7th Cir. 1983) (“Section 1983 creates a cause of action based on personal liability and predicated upon fault. An individual cannot be held liable in a § 1983 action unless he caused or participated in an alleged constitutional deprivation.... A causal connection, or an affirmative link, between the misconduct complained of and the official sued is necessary.”)). The Eighth Amendment claim based on sleep deprivation tactics must therefore be dismissed.

         To prevail on an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference medical claim, a plaintiff must demonstrate two elements: (1) he suffered from an objectively serious medical condition; and (2) the defendant knew about the plaintiff's condition and the substantial risk of harm it posed, but disregarded that risk. Id. at 837; Pittman ex rel. Hamilton v. County of Madison, Ill., 746 F.3d 766, 775 (7th Cir. 2014). Mr. Seal merely alleges that he was not medically screened, but does not explain how he suffered from an ...

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