United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
DEGUILIO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Lambright, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint and
a motion for preliminary injunction. “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, the
court 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 Cir. 2006).
complaint, Lambright alleges that correctional officials
improperly classified him at a higher security level due to a
clerical error on a State court's docket. As a result, he
is housed at the Westville Correctional Facility and is
deprived of the opportunity to transfer to the Chain O'
Lakes Correctional Facility, the facility nearest to his
home. In his complaint and in his motion for a preliminary
injunction, he seeks a transfer to a lower security facility.
alleges that his security classification constitutes cruel
and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment because he
is housed with inmates who are also classified at a higher
security level, which exposes him to a greater risk of
violence. The Eighth Amendment imposes a duty on prison
officials “to take reasonable measures to guarantee the
safety of inmates.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 832 (1994). “[P]rison officials have a duty
to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other
prisoners.” Id. at 833. “[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).
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). “[A]
deliberate indifference claim cannot be predicated merely on
knowledge of general risks of violence in prison.”
Weiss v. Cooley, 230 F.3d 1027, 1032 (7th Cir.
2000). Lambright does not describe a specific threat to his
safety but instead bases his claim on a general risk of
violence. Therefore, Lambright does not state a claim under
the Eighth Amendment.
also alleges that his erroneous security classification
constitutes a procedural due process violation under the
Fourteenth Amendment. To state a procedural due process
violation, a plaintiff must allege the deprivation of a
liberty or property interest arising from the Due Process
Clause or created by state law. DeWalt v. Carter,
224 F.3d 607, 613 (7th Cir. 2000) (citing Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 483-84 (1995)). Though
“[t]he Constitution itself does not give rise to a
liberty interest in avoiding transfer to more adverse
conditions of confinement, ” a state-created liberty
interest may arise if a housing assignment “imposes
atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation
to the ordinary incidents of prison life.”
Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 223 (2005).
asserts that he is housed with violent inmates and that he
cannot transfer to a facility near his home. However, these
conditions are not unusually harsh within the context of a
correctional setting. See Olim v. Wakinekona, 461
U.S. 238, 246 (1983) (noting that even out-of-state
correctional transfers are “neither unreasonable nor
unusual”); United States v. Tokash, 282 F.3d
962, 970 (7th Cir. 2002) (“prisons are inherently
dangerous places and are inhabited by violent people”).
Therefore, Lambright does not state a procedural due process
violation under the Fourteenth Amendment.
on the foregoing, the complaint does not state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. Likewise, the motion for a
preliminary injunction is denied because Lambright has not
shown a likelihood of success on the merits. See Joelner
v. Vill. of Washington Park, Illinois, 378 F.3d 613, 619
(7th Cir. 2004) (“In order to obtain a preliminary
injunction, the moving party must show that they are
reasonably likely to succeed on the merits”).
Nevertheless, the court will allow Lambright an opportunity
to file an amended complaint. See Luevano v.
Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014 (7th Cir. 2013). A copy of this
court's approved form -- Prisoner Complaint (INND Rev.
8/16) -- is available upon request from the prison law
library. However, Lambright should file an amended complaint
only if he can address the deficiencies identified in this
order. If he chooses to file an amended complaint, he must
reference the cause number of this case, which may be found
on the first page of this order.
these reasons, the court:
DENIES the motion for a preliminary injunction (ECF 2);
GRANTS Kristopher Lambright until September 7, 2018,
to file an amended complaint; and
CAUTIONS Kristopher Lambright that, if he does not respond by
that deadline, this case will be dismissed without further
notice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § ...