United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint
James Hamilton's motion for leave to file an amended
complaint, dkt. , is granted. The
clerk is directed to file the tendered
pleading, dkt. [18-1], as the amended complaint. This
litigation shall proceed with the amended complaint as the
operative pleading in the action.
Screening of Amended Complaint
Mr. Hamilton is a prisoner, his amended complaint is subject
to the screening requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss
the amended 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
[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 Mr. Hamilton 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).
thorough overview of the factual allegations in Mr.
Hamilton's original complaint may be found in the
Court's original screening entry, dkt. 13. Because the
allegations in the amended complaint are substantially
similar to those in the original complaint, the Court will
proceed to its analysis of Mr. Hamilton's claims and take
note of new allegations where appropriate.
Claims Based on Knowledge of Specified Danger Based on
Cooperation in Smuggling Investigation
Hamilton claims that Defendants Feldkamp, Robbins, and Feeney
all failed to protect him in violation of the Eighth
Amendment after they were confronted with evidence that he
was in danger of violence from other inmates after he
cooperated in a smuggling investigation. In its original
screening entry, the Court found that these allegations, if
true would establish that Defendants Feldkamp, Robbins, and
Feeney knew of and disregarded a specific, excessive risk to
Mr. Hamilton's safety. See Gevas v. McLaughlin,
798 F.3d 475, 481 (7th Cir. 2015). Therefore, Mr.
Hamilton's Eighth Amendment claims against Defendants
Feldkamp, Robbins, and Feeney, in their individual
capacities, shall proceed as submitted.
amended complaint adds claims against these defendants for
negligence under Indiana law based on the same factual
allegations. The Court finds that Mr. Hamilton's
allegations that Defendants Feldkamp, Robbins, and Feeney
failed to take appropriate action to protect him after
learning that he was in danger due to his cooperation in the
smuggling investigation state plausible negligence claims.
Therefore, Mr. Hamilton's negligence claims against
Defendants Feldkamp, Robbins, and Feeney shall
proceed as submitted.
Claims Based on Failure to Separate Inmates Based on Security
Hamilton also asserts that Defendants Knight, Robbins, and
Feeney had responsibility over inmates' housing
assignments and failed to either enact or execute protocols
that would have promptly reassigned Mr. Hamilton from South
Dormitory to a lower security housing unit following his
reclassification from Level 1 to Level 2. In screening the
original complaint, the Court found that these allegations
did not state a plausible Eighth Amendment claim because they
did not allege that a pervasive pattern of violence or a
series of bad acts evidenced such an obvious risk of violence
that the defendants must have been aware of it. See Smith
v. Sangamon Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 188, 192-194
(7th Cir. 2013); Washington v. LaPorte Cnty.
Sheriff's Dep't, 306 F.3d 515, 518-519 (7th Cir.
amended complaint, Mr. Hamilton has pled factual allegations
sufficient to state an Eighth Amendment claim for failure to
separate inmates based on their security classifications.
With his amended complaint, Mr. Hamilton included affidavits
from inmates housed in South Dormitory about the same time he
was seeking a new housing assignment. These inmates
characterize South Dormitory as a home to “violent gang
activity” and state that they witnessed “fights
almost every day over debts and living conditions, ”
“strong-arm robberies and assaults that resulted in
injuries on a daily basis, ” “fights at least
once per day, ” and “inmates jumping
people” without intervention from prison staff.
See dkt. 18-1 at 30, 31, 34. For ...