United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
ANTHONY P. SHARP, JR., Plaintiff,
RON NEAL, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
L. MILLER, JR. JUDGE.
P. Sharp, Jr., a prisoner without a lawyer, slipped and fell
on ice while housed at the Indiana State Prison. As a result
of that fall, he has filed an amended complaint (ECF 6) suing
Warden Ron Neal, Officer Moore, and Sgt. Moon. “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). Nevertheless, the court must review the merits of a
prisoner complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Sharp alleges that, on December 29, 2017, while being
escorted by Officer Moore to the medical department, shackled
at his wrists and legs, he slipped and fell on steps covered
in snow and ice. He hurt his shoulder, ribs, hip, and back.
He was taken to the medical department and given ice for his
injuries, but no x-rays were taken and he wasn't provided
with pain medication.
Sharp names Warden Ron Neal as a defendant, but the court has
already explained to Mr. Sharp that if Warden Neal wasn't
personally involved in the incident, he can't be held
liable for it. 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, doesn't apply to §
1983 actions. Moore v. State of Indiana, 999 F.2d
1125, 1129 (7th Cir. 1993). Mr. Sharp doesn't allege that
Warden Neal was personally involved in either taking him to
the medical department when he fell or determining what
medical care he received after his fall. The amended
complaint doesn't state a claim against Warden Neal.
Mr. Sharp alleges that Sgt. Moon, who is in charge of the
crew that shovels snow, was responsible for failing to remedy
the conditions that led to Mr. Sharp's fall. But the
amended complaint doesn't allege that Sgt. Moon was aware
of the need to clear ice and snow from the stairs or that he
was involved in the events leading up to Mr. Sharp's
fall. A claim of negligence isn't enough for a
constitutional claim: a prisoner alleging deliberate
indifference to a hazardous condition of confinement, must
“allege that [a defendant] deliberately ignored a
prison condition that presented an objectively, sufficiently
serious risk of harm.” Pyles v. Fahim, 771
F.3d 403, 409 (7th Cir. 2014). “Federal courts
consistently have adopted the view that slippery surfaces and
shower floors in prisons, without more, cannot constitute a
hazardous condition of confinement.” Id. Mr.
Sharp hasn't alleged that Sgt. Moon did anything more
than fail to promptly remove ice and snow from the stairs;
that doesn't state a federal claim upon which relief can
Sharp alleges that Officer Moore was escorting him up the
snow and ice covered stairs while his wrists and legs were
shackled, and that Officer Moore failed to hold on to him
adequately. This is insufficient to state a claim because Mr.
Sharp doesn't allege that Officer Moore deliberately
ignored conditions presenting a sufficiently serious risk of
harm. See Anderson v. Morrison, 835 F.3d 681, 683
(7th Cir. 2016) (finding that Anderson stated a claim against
a guard who refused his request for assistance and forced
Anderson to traverse 13 stairs “clogged with several
days' of accumulated food and rubbish” while
handcuffed behind the back); Perkins v. Pfister, 711
Fed.Appx. 335, 337 (7th Cir. 2017) (distinguishing
Anderson and finding an inmate who alleged he was
occasionally required to walk dry, uncluttered stairs while
handcuffed behind the back did not state a claim);
Boclair v. Baldwin, No. 17CV142, 2017WL6813694, *3
(N.D. Ill. Apr. 28, 2017) (icy path where prisoner slipped
“did not present a danger so perilous as to implicate
the Eighth Amendment.”). Mr. Sharp doesn't describe
how he was shackled, or explain if he had any ability to use
his hands to hold on to a handrail. He doesn't describe
how many stairs he was required to climb. He doesn't
describe the conditions of the stairs in any detail, other
than indicating they were covered with snow and ice. While
Mr. Sharp alleges that Officer Moore failed to hold on to
him, he doesn't indicate if he asked Officer Moore for
assistance and, if so, how Officer Moore responded to his
request. And it's unclear if Mr. Sharp's medical
condition contributed to his ability to navigate the stairs,
or whether Officer Moore was aware of his medical condition
or its impact on Mr. Sharp. Without more details, the amended
complaint doesn't state a claim upon which relief can be
granted against Officer Moore.
Sharp complains about the medical care he received from Nurse
Suzanna, but he doesn't name her or any other medical
provider as a defendant. Under the Eighth Amendment, inmates
are entitled to adequate medical care. Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). To establish liability,
a prisoner must satisfy both an objective and subjective
component by showing: (1) his medical need was objectively
serious; and (2) the defendant acted with deliberate
indifference to that medical need. Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). A medical need is
“serious” if it is one that a physician has
diagnosed 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). Deliberate indifference means
that the defendant “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).
Nurse Suzanna provided some medical care for Mr. Sharp's
injuries: she gave him ice. While Mr. Sharp alleges he was
send back to his cell in excruciating pain, it's not
clear if he communicated to Nurse Suzanna or anyone else the
extent of his pain, or that he asked for pain medication. Mr.
Sharp also indicates that X-rays weren't taken, but
it's unclear why he believes X-rays were warranted. In
short, the amended complaint asserts no facts suggesting that
any of the defendants named in this lawsuit or even Nurse
Suzanna, who isn't named, were deliberately indifferent
to Mr. Sharp's medical needs.
the amended complaint doesn't state a claim, the court
will give Mr. Sharp another opportunity to replead his
claims. Luevano v. WalMart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d
1014, 1022-23, 1025 (7th Cir. 2013); Loubser v.
Thacker, 440 F.3d 439, 443 (7th Cir. 2006). In the
second amended complaint, he should explain in his own words
what happened, when it happened, where it happened, who was
involved, and how he was personally injured by the conditions
he describes, providing as much detail as possible.
these reasons, the court:
(1) DIRECTS the clerk to place this cause number on a blank
Prisoner Complaint form (INND Rev. 8/16) and sent it to
Anthony P. Sharp, Jr.; and
(2) GRANTS Anthony P. Sharp, Jr. to and including July 16,
2018, to file a second amended complaint.
Sharp doesn't respond by the deadline, this case will be
dismissed without further notice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §