United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Simon, Judge.
Allen Deck, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint
against three defendants at the Miami Correctional Facility.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I must review the
complaint and dismiss it if the action is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a), (b). Courts apply the same standard under
Section 1915A as when addressing a motion under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Lagerstrom v. Kingston,
463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive dismissal, a
complaint must state a claim for relief that is plausible on
its face. Bissessur v. Indiana Univ. Bd. of Trs.,
581 F.3d 599, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2009). “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.”
Id. at 603. Thus, a “plaintiff must do better
than putting a few words on paper that, in the hands of an
imaginative reader, might suggest that something has
happened to her that might be redressed by the
law.” Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400,
403 (7th Cir. 2010) (emphasis in original). Nevertheless,
“[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).
December 29, 2016, while Deck was housed at Miami, he was
attacked by six inmates and suffered serious injuries. Deck
alleges that Officer Mosley watched, but he did not call a
signal to stop the attack or otherwise help him. When an
inmate is attacked by another inmate, the Constitution is
violated only if “deliberate indifference by prison
officials effectively condones the attack by allowing it to
happen.” Haley v. Gross, 86 F.3d 630, 640 (7th
Cir. 1996). And, “[a] prison guard, acting alone, is
not required to take the unreasonable risk of attempting to
break up a fight between two inmates when the circumstances
make it clear that such action would put her in significant
jeopardy.” Shields v. Dart, 664 F.3d 178, 181
(7th Cir. 2011) (quotations marks and citations omitted).
Officer Mosley had no obligation to physically intervene in
the attack, but it can plausibly be inferred from the
complaint that Officer Mosley took no action whatsoever.
Further factual development may demonstrate that Officer
Mosley did in fact take some action in response to the
attack, or that his options were limited by personal safety
concerns. But, at this stage of the proceedings, taking the
inferences in the light most favorable to Deck, he has stated
a claim for failure to intervene.
Deck sues Case Worker Mrs. Opps. He complains only that she
saw him after the attack and did nothing to help. In medical
cases, the Constitution is violated only when a defendant is
deliberately indifferent to an inmate's serious medical
needs. Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1369 (7th
Cir. 1997). While Deck alleges that Opps saw him bloody
following the attack, he does not allege that he received no
medical treatment or even that his medical treatment was
delayed because Opps ignored his needs. Without more facts,
it cannot be plausibly inferred that Opps, a non-medical
staff member, was deliberately indifferent to Deck's
medical needs. Deck's allegations against Opps are too
vague to state a claim.
Deck alleges that Superintendent Kathy Griffin is liable
because she failed to have her staff protect him. However,
there is no general respondeat superior liability
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and Superintendent Griffin
cannot be held liable simply because she oversees operations
at the prison or supervises other correctional officers.
See Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 594 (7th Cir.
these reasons, the Court:
GRANTS Rick Allen Deck leave to proceed
against Officer Mosley in his individual capacity on an
Eighth Amendment claim that Officer Mosley was deliberately
indifferent to Deck's safety when he failed to intervene
in an inmate altercation that occurred on December 29, 2016;
DISMISSES all other claims;
DISMISSES Case Worker Mrs. Opps and
Superintendent Kathy Griffin;
DIRECTS the Clerk and the United States
Marshals Service to issue and serve process on Officer Mosley
at the Indiana Department of Correction with a copy of this
order and the complaint as required by 28 U.S.C. §
ORDERS, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(g)(2), that Officer Mosley respond, as provided for in
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and N.D. Ind. L.R.
10-1(b), only to the claims for which the plaintiff has been
granted leave to proceed in this screening order.