United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON JUDGE
Patrick Wages, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed an amended
complaint. 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, 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. “In order to state a
claim under [42 U.S.C.] § 1983 a plaintiff must allege:
(1) that defendants deprived him of a federal constitutional
right; and (2) that the defendants acted under color of state
law.” Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th
alleges that, on May 22, 2017, at the Westville Correctional
Facility, he requested protective custody from Sergeant
Bowman and Mr. Watts. After some discussion, his request was
denied, and he was placed in 7-dorm. On May 23, 2017, he was
assaulted by other inmates, who were also gang members. He
reported the attack to Sergeant Bowman, who escorted Wages to
the captain's office and then went home because it was
the end of his shift. After receiving medical care, Wages
discussed his housing assignment with two sergeants and a
correctional officer. He informed them that he would not be
safe on 8-dorm because it housed several gang members, but
they placed him in 8-dorm against his objections. There, on
the same day, he was assaulted by a different set of inmates.
He was taken to the medical unit, where he was allowed to
stay for the rest of that night, and he eventually
transferred to the Putnamville Correctional Facility. As a
result of the attacks, he suffered a broken nose and jaw and
experiences pain, anxiety, and the inability to sleep. He
seeks changes in the Westville Correctional Facility's
protective custody procedures, the termination of Mr.
Watts' employment, and money damages.
initial matter, it is unclear who Wages intended to name as a
defendants. In the amended complaint, Wages states that he is
suing fourteen defendants in this case, but he has listed
only three defendants. Notably, the complaint form instructs
plaintiffs to name each defendant in a numbered list along
with their job titles and addresses. ECF 14-1 at 1.
Similarly, in a previous order, Wages was advised that he
needed to provide a list of those he seeks to name as a
defendant. ECF 14. I thus construe the complaint as naming
only the three listed defendants: Westville Correctional
Facility, Mr. Watts, and Sergeant Bowman.
the Westville Correctional Facility is not a proper
defendant. Though it is where these events occurred, the
Westville Correctional Facility is a physical location, not a
person or even a policy-making unit of government that can be
sued pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Sow v.
Fortville Police Dep't, 636 F.3d 293, 300 (7th Cir.
2011). Additionally, because Wages has transferred from the
Westville Correctional Facility, his requests for injunctive
relief are moot. See Higgason v. Farley, 83 F.3d
807, 811 (7th Cir. 1996) (“If a prisoner is transferred
to another prison, his request for injunctive relief against
officials of the first prison is moot unless he can
demonstrate that he is likely to be retransferred.”).
asserts an Eighth Amendment failure to protect claim against
Sergeant Bowman and Mr. Watts. “[P]rison officials have
a duty to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of
other prisoners.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 833 (1994). “[I]n order to state a section 1983
claim against prison officials for failure to protect, [a
plaintiff] must establish: (1) that he was incarcerated under
conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm and (2)
that the defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his
health or safety.” Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d
749, 756 (7th Cir. 2010). The plaintiff must establish
“the defendant had actual knowledge of an impending
harm easily preventable, so that a conscious, culpable
refusal to prevent the harm can be inferred from the
defendant's failure to prevent it.” Id. In
failure to protect cases, substantial risks are ones
“so great that they are almost certain to materialize
if nothing is done.” Brown v. Budz, 398 F.3d
904, 911 (7th Cir. 2005). In such cases, “a prisoner
normally proves actual knowledge of impending harm by showing
that he complained to prison officials about a specific
threat to his safety.” Pope v. Shafer, 86 F.3d
90, 92 (7th Cir. 1996). Though Wages could have been more
detailed about what he told Sergeant Bowman and Mr. Watts, it
is plausible to infer that Wages conveyed a specific threat
to his safety when he requested protective custody.
Therefore, the complaint plausibly alleges a failure to
protect claim against Sergeant Bowman and Mr. Watts under the
I must address the fact that this case is currently closed.
This case was closed on the basis that Wages had abandoned
this case, but he later demonstrated that he missed a
deadline to file an amended complaint through no fault of his
own. As a result, I afforded Wages another opportunity to
file an amended complaint and advised that I would decide
whether to reopen the case after reviewing the amended
complaint. Because the amended complaint states a valid
claim, I now decide that this case will be reopened.
these reasons, the court:
DIRECTS the clerk to reopen this case;
GRANTS Ross Patrick Wages leave to proceed on a claim against
Mr. Watts and Sergeant Bowman in their individual capacities
for money damages for failing to protect him from the May
2017 assaults in violation of the Eighth Amendment;
DISMISSES the Westville Correctional Facility;
DISMISSES all other claims;
DIRECTS the clerk and the United States Marshals Service to
issue and serve process on Mr. Watts and Sergeant Bowman at
the Indiana Department of Correction with a copy of this
order and the amended complaint (ECF 23) as required by 28
U.S.C. § 1915(d); and
ORDERS Mr. Watts and Sergeant Bowman, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(g)(2), to respond as provided in the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure and N.D. Ind. L.R. 10.1, only to the
claims for which Ross Patrick ...