United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
CHRISTOPHER L. SCRUGGS, Plaintiff,
SGT. SIN CLAIR, et al., Defendants.
AMENDED OPINION AND ORDER 
L. Scruggs, a pro se prisoner, filed a complaint
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against eight officers at the
Westville Correctional Facility (Westville). Pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must review a complaint filed
by a prisoner 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (b). The
court must bear in mind, however, that “[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).
Scruggs alleges that was housed under inhumane conditions at
Westville from May 7, 2016 through May 13, 2016. On May 7,
Scruggs suffered an unidentified medical injury which caused
so much pain in his stomach area that he was unable to walk
or leave his cell. The next day, he informed C.O. Baity that
he needed medical help. In response, C.O. Baity simply told
Scruggs that Nurse West refused to come see him. Scruggs then
asked C.O. Wilson to call medical, but he refused. Instead,
C.O. Wilson called Sgt. Miller and Sgt. SinClair. These two
sergeants - who have an animosity towards Scruggs - came to
his cell and instead of helping him, pepper sprayed him for
no reason. Scruggs was left on the floor in pain and covered
in pepper spray. During this time, Nurses Lester and West
walked by his cell, knew of his condition, and ignored him.
Scruggs sues these defendants for money damages for refusing
to treat his medical problem, in violation of the Eighth
evaluating an Eighth Amendment claim, courts conduct both an
objective and a subjective inquiry. Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). In medical cases, the
Eighth Amendment test is expressed in terms of whether the
defendant was deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff's
serious medical need. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97
(1976). A medical need is “serious” if it is
“one that has been diagnosed by a physician as
mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay
person would easily recognize the necessity for a
doctor's attention.” Greeno v. Daley, 414
F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). For a medical professional to
be liable for deliberate indifference, he or she 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).
Negligence, incompetence, or even medical malpractice do not
constitute deliberate indifference. Pierson v.
Hartley, 391 F.3d 898, 902 (7th Cir. 2004); Walker
v. Peters, 233 F.3d 494, 499 (7th Cir. 2000).
Scruggs claims that C.O. Baity, Nurse West, Nurse Lester,
C.O. Wilson, Sgt. Miller and Sgt. SinClair ignored his pain
and denied him medical care from May 7, 2016 to May 13, 2016.
Although Scruggs does not identify his medical condition, he
alleges that it caused him to suffer extreme pain in his
stomach, mid-section and lower back. The condition impaired
Scrugg's mobility to the point that he was unable to
walk. These defendants knew of this condition and still
ignored him. Giving Scruggs the inferences to which he is
entitled at this stage, he has alleged an Eighth Amendment
claim against C.O. Baity, Nurse West, C.O. Wilson, Sgt.
Miller, Nurse Lester and Sgt. SinClair.
Scruggs sues Sgt. Miller and Sgt. SinClair for using
excessive force when they pepper sprayed him on May 7, 2016.
Scruggs alleges that these sergeants pepper sprayed him
simply because they did not like him. 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) (citation
omitted). Several factors guide the inquiry of whether an
officer's use of force was legitimate or malicious,
including the need for an application of force, the amount of
force used, and the extent of the injury suffered by the
giving Scruggs the inferences to which he is entitled at this
stage, he alleges a plausible claim that Sgt. Miller and Sgt.
SinClair used force maliciously and sadistically to cause him
harm. Although further factual development may show that
their actions were reasonable under the circumstances,
Scruggs has alleged enough to proceed on this claim.
Scruggs complains that Sgt. Miller and Sgt. Sinclair ordered
the running water in his cell turned off and, for the next
six days, Scruggs was deprived of anything to drink. He was
not able to get any water from his cell since the water was
turned off, was unable to leave his cell and he did not
receive any liquids to drink with his meals. He was given
only powdered milk or drink mix. During this time, Scruggs
asked C.O. Wilson and C.O. Jones to bring him something to
drink but they refused based on Captain Earhart and Captain
“the Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons,
” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349 (1981),
inmates are entitled to adequate food, clothing, shelter,
bedding, hygiene materials, and sanitation. Knight v.
Wiseman, 590 F.3d 458, 463 (7th Cir. 2009); Gillis
v. Litscher, 468 F.3d 488, 493 (7th Cir. 2006). To
determine whether Scruggs has stated a Constitutional claim
for a lack of drinking water, the court must evaluate both
the severity and duration of the deprivation. Dixon v.
Godinez, 114 F.3d 640, 643 (7th Cir. 1997). The severity
of the deprivation was extreme. Scruggs was denied anything
to drink. And, six days to be without water is quite a long
time. Thus, Scruggs' allegations that these defendants
deprived him of any liquids to drink for six days satisfies
the objective prong of the Eighth Amendment inquiry. Cf.
Tesch v. Cnty. of Green Lake, 157 F.3d 465, 476
(7th Cir. 1998) (holding that an inmate's allegations
that he was denied assistance in obtaining drinking water for
“less than two full days” was de minimis
and did not state a claim for relief). With respect to the
subjective prong, Scruggs alleges that these defendants were
personally aware of his lack of anything to drink, but
intentionally ignored his situation. If proven, these
allegations could establish deliberate indifference. See
Reed v. McBride, 178 F.3d 849, 855 (7th Cir. 1999)
(where inmate repeatedly complained about severe deprivations
but was ignored, he established a “prototypical case of
deliberate indifference.”). Giving Scruggs the
inferences to which he is entitled at this stage, Scruggs has
alleged an Eighth Amendment claim against Sgt. Miller, Sgt.
SinClair, C.O. Wilson, C.O. Jones, Capt. Earhart and Capt.
Smiley for denying him any liquids to drink for six days.
these reasons, the Court:
GRANTS the plaintiff leave to proceed on a claim against C.O.
Baity, Nurse West, Nurse Lester, C.O. Wilson, Sgt. Miller and
Sgt. SinClair in their individual capacities for compensatory
and punitive damages for ignoring his serious medical needs
from May 7, 2016, through May 13, 2016, under the Eighth
GRANTS the plaintiff leave to proceed on a claim against Sgt.
Miller and Sgt. SinClair in their individual capacities for
compensatory and punitive damages for using excessive force
against him on May 7, 2016, under the Eighth Amendment;
GRANTS the plaintiff leave to proceed on a claim against Sgt.
Miller, Sgt. SinClair, C.O. Wilson, C.O. Jones, Capt. Earhart
and Capt. Smiley in their individual capacities for
compensatory and punitive damages for depriving him of any