United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER SCREENING AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT AND ALLOWING
PLAINTIFF TO SHOW CAUSE
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
David Eugene Monday (“Monday”) has paid the
assessed initial partial filing fee. His complaint is now
subject to screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Monday is a prisoner in the Indiana Department of Correction
(IDOC), the complaint is subject to the screening
requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This statute directs
that the court shall dismiss a complaint or any claim within
a complaint which “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief.” Id. To satisfy the
notice-pleading standard of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, a complaint must provide a “short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief, ” which is sufficient to provide
the defendant with “fair notice” of the claim and
its basis. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93
(2007) (per curiam) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) and quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Wade v. Hopper, 993
F.2d 1246, 1249 (7th Cir. 1993) (noting that the main purpose
of Rule 8 is rooted in fair notice: a complaint “must
be presented with intelligibility sufficient for a court or
opposing party to understand whether a valid claim is alleged
and if so what it is.”) (quotation omitted)). The
complaint “must actually suggest that the plaintiff has
a right to relief, by providing allegations that raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.” Windy
City Metal Fabricators & Supply, Inc. v. CIT Tech. Fin.
Servs., 536 F.3d 663, 668 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir.
2008)). The Court construes pro se pleadings liberally, and
holds pro se pleadings to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Obriecht v.
Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 491 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008).
Monday is imprisoned for domestic battery. The victim of the
domestic battery is his wife. Defendants have denied him
visitation with his wife because she is the victim of his
crime. Monday contends that the denial of visitation violates
IDOC policies that further restorative justice, victim
reconciliation, and therapeutic supervised visits. He frames
his claims in terms of (1) negligence because defendants
placed him in a facility that did not offer services specific
to his needs, and (2) discrimination because other inmates at
the same facility were permitted visits with their
“current case victim.” Dkt. 1, p. 4. Monday does
not allege any protected class as a basis for this
State Entity Defendants
seeks monetary damages. Therefore the Indiana Department of
Correction and Heritage Trails Correctional Facility are not
proper defendants in this action. When seeking monetary
damages, only persons are suable entities under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. A suit against a state agency is treated as a
suit against the state itself for Eleventh Amendment
purposes, and the Eleventh Amendment immunizes an
unconsenting state from suits for damages in federal court.
See Smith v. Utah Valley Univ., 619 Fed.Appx. 559,
560 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing Pennhurst State Sch. &
Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98 (1984)). A physical
facility such as a correctional facility is not a person
capable of being sued. The complaint is therefore
dismissed against the Indiana Department of
Correction and Heritage Trails Correctional Facility.
remaining two defendants are The Geo Group Incorporated and
Warden Donald Emerson.
Claims Against Remaining Defendants
Ground 1 - “Negligence”
Monday's complaint is based on a belief that IDOC failed
to follow its own policies, procedures, or regulations. But
the federal courts have limited jurisdiction and absent
diversity of citizenship, which does not exist here, a
lawsuit must be premised on the violation of a federal
constitutional violation or federal statute. Monday cites 42
U.S.C. § 1983, and various other sections of The Civil
Rights Act, but he does not incorporate any substantive civil
rights statute into his first ground for relief. He instead
contends the IDOC was negligent for placing him at a facility
where the programs he needed, pursuant to IDOC policies, were
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution
or laws of the United States and must show that the alleged
deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of
state law. West v. Atkins,487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights;
instead it is a means for vindicating federal rights
elsewhere conferred. Ledford v. Sullivan, 105 F.3d
354, 356 (7th Cir. 1997) (citing Baker v. McCollan,
443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)). “[T]he first step in any
[§ 1983] claim is to identify the specific
constitutional right infringed.” Albright v.
Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). The failure of prison
officials to follow their own policies and rules, even state
statutes, is not a federal constitutional claim. Rather, the
violation of the policies and rules must ...