United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON JUDGE
Lee Looney, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint
against Miami Correctional Facility and several of its
employees after he suffered an acute urinary tract infection
caused by limited access to water and restroom facilities.
(ECF 1). “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) (quotation marks and
citations omitted). Nevertheless, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A, I must review the merits of a prisoner
complaint 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.
Looney's dorm is on lock-down, he cannot access either
restroom facilities or water whenever he wishes. He is
instead at the mercy of staff members, and this sometimes
results in offenders waiting long periods of time to use the
restroom. On April 3, 2017, while Looney's dorm was on
lock-down, Looney developed pain, and he asked Corrections
Officer Van-Horn to radio for medical help. Officer Van-Horn
told him to fill out a medical request form, but Looney
indicated he needed medical help immediately because he was
hurting. Corrections Officer Van-Horn did not let the medical
staff know of Looney's pain. Instead, he said, “I
don't give a fuck.” (ECF 1 at 8.) The next morning,
Looney's symptoms had worsened: he was vomiting and had
both a fever and muscle spasms. He was sent to the infirmary
and diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and dehydration.
Looney believes his medical condition was the result of his
limited access to water and restroom facilities, and he
believes he suffered unnecessary pain due to Corrections
Officer Van-Horn's unwillingness to notify the medical
staff of his condition. Based on these events, he has sued
the Miami Correctional Facility, Executive Assistant
Grievance Specialist Traci Riggle, Corrections Officer
Van-Horn, Lt. Rush, and Major Tucker.
sued Corrections Officer Van-Horn for failure to contact the
medical staff when Looney told him he was in pain and
required medical care. 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).
“[C]onduct is deliberately indifferent when the
official has acted in an intentional or criminally reckless
manner, i.e., the defendant must have known that the
plaintiff was at serious risk of being harmed and decided not
to do anything to prevent that harm from occurring even
though he could have easily done so.” Board v.
Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 478 (7th Cir. 2005) (quotation
marks, brackets, and citation omitted). Furthermore, a delay
in providing treatment can constitute deliberate indifference
when it causes unnecessary pain or suffering. Arnett v.
Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 752-53 (7th Cir. 2011);
Grieveson v. Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 779 (7th Cir.
2008). Here, Looney has alleged facts from which it can be
plausibly inferred that Corrections Officer Van-Horn was
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need, and I
will allow him to proceed on this claim.
also sued Lt. Rush, who is in charge of custody and security
at the Miami Correctional Annex. But Looney does not explain
why he believes Lt. Rush is liable to him. Section 1983
“liability depends on each defendant's knowledge
and actions, not on the knowledge or actions of persons they
supervise.” Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592,
594 (7th Cir. 2009). “[P]ublic employees are
responsible for their own misdeeds but not for anyone
else's.” Id. at 596. The doctrine of
respondeat superior, which allows an employer to be held
liable for subordinates' actions in some types of cases,
has no application to § 1983 actions. Moore v. State
of Indiana, 999 F.2d 1125, 1129 (7th Cir. 1993). Looney
does not allege that Lt. Rush was aware of his need for
medical care or even that Lt. Rush was aware that he was not
being permitted to use the restroom or obtain water at
regular intervals. Further, Looney is not alleging that there
is a policy of not allowing offenders access to water or
restroom facilities. In fact, he indicates that the officers
were supposed to unlock the cells every two hours. (ECF 1 at
7.) Thus, Looney has not stated a claim against Lt. Rush, and
I will dismiss him from the lawsuit.
Looney has sued Major Tucker because he is in charge of
custody and it is his responsibility to train his officers.
“An allegation of a ‘failure to train' is
available only in limited circumstances.” Cornfield
v. Consolidated High School Dist. No. 230, 991 F.2d
1316, 1327 (7th Cir. 1993). This is not such a case. A
failure to train claim requires that “the policymakers
had acquiesced in a pattern of constitutional
violations.” Id. Here, the complaint does it
provide any facts about why or how the training of officers
was inadequate. Rather, it merely makes the conclusory
allegation that it was inadequate. Therefore, Looney has not
stated a claim for failure to train, and I will dismiss Major
Looney has sued Traci Riggle, a grievance specialist, for
refusing to answer his grievances. But a prisoner has no due
process rights with respect to the prison grievance
procedures, and that a grievance official ignores,
mishandles, or denies a prisoner's grievance does not
state a claim under § 1983.
Prison grievance procedures are not mandated by the First
Amendment and do not by their very existence create interests
protected by the Due Process Clause, and so the alleged
mishandling of [a prisoner's] grievances by persons who
otherwise did not cause or participate in the underlying
conduct states no claim.
Owens v. Hinsley, 635 F.3d 950, 953 (7th Cir. 2011);
George v. Smith, 507 F.3d. 605, 609 (7th Cir. 2007)
(“Only persons who cause or participate in the
[Constitutional] violations are responsible. Ruling against a
prisoner on an administrative complaint does not cause or
contribute to the violation”) (citations omitted).
Accordingly, Looney has not stated a claim against Traci
Riggle, and I will dismiss her.
also alleges that, as he attempted to seek justice, his legal
mail to this court was interrupted. The fundamental right of
access to the courts precludes prison officials from
destroying legal materials to impede inmates' efforts
“to attack their sentences, directly or collaterally,
and in order to challenge the conditions of their
confinement, ” Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343,
355 (1996), though to prevail on such a claim, the inmate
must eventually establish that he suffered actual injury.
Id. at 351. Here, Looney does not identify any
defendant who is responsible for interfering with his mail.
Moreover, he has not identified what he was trying to mail to
the court of how he was injured by his mail being interfered
with. So, I will dismiss this claim.
Looney has sued the Miami Correctional Facility. However, it
is not a suable entity because it is merely a division of the
Indiana Department of Correction. Because Miami Correctional
Facility is not a legally separate entity from the agency it
serves, it is not subject to suit. See Whiting v.
Marathon Cty. Sheriff's Dep't, 382 F.3d 700, 704
(7th Cir. 2004).
GRANTS Archie Lee Looney leave to proceed against Corrections
Officer Van-Horn in his individual capacity for compensatory
damages for denying necessary medical care to Looney ...