United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
THOMAS E. HARRIS, Plaintiff,
INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON JUDGE.
E. Harris, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint
alleging that he was injured while performing his work duties
at Westville Correctional Facility's Kamps Pallet Shop,
for Pen Products. A filing by an unrepresented party
“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.
December 20, 2016, Harris was building a pallet at the
Westville Correctional Facility for Pen Products' Kamps
Pallet Shop, where he was employed. A nail ricocheted off the
wood and seriously injured Harris' eye. He spent four
days in the hospital and is now blind in that eye as a result
of the injury. His complaint names three defendants: the
Indiana Department of Correction, Pen Products (Kamps Pallet
Shop), and Corizon Medical.
initial matter, the IDOC is a State agency and is immune from
suit pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment. Wynn v.
Southward, 251 F.3d 588, 592 (7th Cir. 2001). There are
three exceptions to Eleventh Amendment immunity: (1) suits
directly against the State based on a cause of action where
Congress has abrogated the state's immunity from suit;
(2) suits directly against the State if the State waived its
sovereign immunity; and (3) suits against a State official
seeking prospective equitable relief for ongoing violations
of federal law. MCI Telecommunications Corp. v. Ill.
Commerce Comm'n, 183 F.3d 558, 563 (7th Cir. 1999).
I find that these exceptions do not apply here, so he cannot
state a claim against the IDOC. Likewise, Pen Products, a
division of the Indiana Department of Correction created
pursuant to Indiana Code § 11-10-6-2, is immune from
suit in federal court.
visited Aug. 10, 2018). While Harris may not proceed against
either the IDOC or Pen Products, if any individual employed
by the IDOC or Pen Products was deliberately indifferent to
Harris' safety, he may be able to state a claim against
Harris has sued “Pen Products (Kamps Pallet Shop),
” it is unclear if he intended to sue only Pen Products
or both Pen Products and Kamps Pallet Shop. What is clear is
that the current complaint does not state a claim under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. “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). Harris alleges that safety goggles would have
prevented his injury, and the pallet shop should have
provided him with safety goggles instead of mere safety
glasses. To proceed on an Eighth Amendment claim, an inmate
must allege that the defendants acted with deliberate
indifference to his health or safety. Farmer v.
Brennan , 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). Mere negligence does
not violate the Constitution. Pierson v. Hartley,
391 F.3d 898, 902 (7th Cir. 2004). “[N]ot every
deviation from ideally safe conditions constitutes a
violation of the constitution.” French v.
Owens, 777 F.2d 1250, 1257 (7th Cir. 1985) (quotation
marks and citations omitted.) The allegations here suggest
that Pen Products and Kamps Pallet Shop may have been
negligent, but do not suggest that they were deliberately
indifferent to his safety. While Harris has not plausibly
alleged a constitutional violation and I cannot permit him to
proceed on this claim, he will have an opportunity to amend
also alleges that his medical care was deficient following
his return from the hospital. More specifically, he was
forced to go without his medication on two occasions, causing
an additional hospital stay and contributing to his poor
treatment outcome. He has sued Corizon, the provider of
medical care at the Westville Correctional Facility, but
Corizon cannot be held liable for damages under § 1983
unless a policy or custom caused the alleged constitutional
violation. Monell v. Dept. of Social Services, 436
U.S. 658, 694 (1978). Harris has not alleged that the
deficiencies in his medical care were due to Corizon's
policy or custom. Therefore, I cannot permit him to proceed
against Corizon. However, as with his claims against the IDOC
and Pen Products, if individuals personally involved in
providing Harris with medical care were deliberately
indifferent to his needs, he may be able to pursue claims
the current complaint does not state a claim, Harris will be
afforded an 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 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, providing as much detail as possible.
DIRECTS the clerk to place this cause number on a blank
Prisoner Complaint (INND Rev. 8/16) and send it to Thomas E.
GRANTS Thomas E. Harris until September 13,
2018, to file an amended complaint on that
CAUTIONS Thomas E. Harris that if he does not respond by that
deadline, this case will be dismissed without further notice
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A ...