United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
MICHAEL L. RAMBO, JR., Plaintiff,
IDOC, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON, JUDGE.
L. Rambo, Jr., a pro se prisoner, filed a complaint
alleging that a correctional officer at Westville
Correctional Facility used excessive force against him on
July 14, 2018. ECF 1. I must review the complaint and dismiss
it if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a
claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915A. To survive dismissal, the complaint must state a claim
for relief that is plausible on its face. Bissessur v.
Indiana Univ. Bd. of Trs., 581 F.3d 599, 602-03 (7th
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. at 603. Thus, the plaintiff
“must do better than putting a few words on paper that,
in the hands of an imaginative reader, might suggest that
something has happened to her that might be redressed by the
law.” Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400,
403 (7th Cir. 2010). Nevertheless, I must bear in mind that
“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
alleges that on July 14, 2018, he became upset and began
banging on his cell door when Officer Parker initially
refused to allow him to take a shower. Officer Parker opened
the cuff port on the cell door and ordered Rambo to place his
hands outside the cuff port. He then placed Rambo in
handcuffs. The cuffs were tight and left “red
indents” on Rambo's wrists. Officer Parker opened
the cell door, stood next to Rambo and threatened to rape him
if he did not stop misbehaving. Officer Parker then walked Rambo
down to the shower area. Officer Parker watched Rambo take a
shower and verbally threatened him for nearly two minutes.
After the shower, Rambo refused to cuff up so Officer Parker
called for additional officers. When they arrived, Rambo
allowed those officers to place handcuffs on him.
alleges that Officer Parker “used unnecessary force
(police brutality).” ECF 1 at 3. According to the
allegations in the complaint, the only time Officer Parker
touched Rambo was when he placed handcuffs on him while in
his cell. Thus, I can only conclude that Rambo is suing
Officer Parker for excessive force when he placed the
handcuffs on Rambo tightly. The “core
requirement” for an excessive force claim is that the
defendant “used force not in a good-faith effort to
maintain or restore discipline, but maliciously and
sadistically to cause harm.” Hendrickson v.
Cooper, 589 F.3d 887, 890 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation
omitted). Several factors guide the inquiry of whether an
officer's use of force was legitimate or malicious,
including the need for an application of force, the amount of
force used, and the extent of the injury suffered by the
cannot adequately weigh these factors here due to the gaps in
Rambo's account. Rambo simply states that Officer Parker
placed the handcuffs on him tightly. There are no allegations
that Officer Parker intentionally made the handcuffs too
tight for any malicious or sadistic purpose. Nor does Rambo
claim that he ever communicated to Officer Parker that the
handcuffs were too tight or that they were causing him any
pain. In fact, there are not even any allegations that
Officer Parker knew the handcuffs were too tight. It appears
that Rambo sues this officer because Rambo claims he was
injured by the officer's actions. However, merely being
injured by an officer does not state a claim for excessive
force. Hendrickson, 589 F.3d at 473.
does not address whether there was a need for the use of
force and for the degree of force the officer used. Nor does
he explain whether he ever communicated his complaint to
Officer Parker. Without more information about the
circumstances surrounding his interactions with Officer
Parker, I cannot determine whether he states a plausible
excessive force claim. See e.g., Tibbs v. City of
Chicago, 469 F.3d 661, 666 (7th Cir. 2006)
(concluding that tight handcuffs did not constitute excessive
force where the plaintiff complained of pain only once to the
officer and did not communicate the degree of pain).
names two other defendants, but he does not state a claim
against either of them. Rambo sues Warden Sevier and the
Indiana Department of Corrections. The warden is not
mentioned anywhere in the body of the complaint. Thus, Rambo
does not allege that the warden violated his rights, only
that he supervised employees who did. However, there is no
general respondeat superior liability under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609 (7th Cir.
2007). “[P]ublic employees are responsible for their
own misdeeds but not for anyone else's.” Burks
v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 596 (7th Cir. 2009). Thus,
this complaint does not state a plausible claim against 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 for which 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).
These exceptions do not apply here, so I cannot permit Rambo
to pursue a claim against the IDOC.
Officer Parker, the complaint does not contain sufficient
facts to state a claim. Nevertheless, Rambo may file an
amended complaint if he believes that by addressing the
issues raised in this order, he would state an excessive
force claim against Officer Parker. 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
Michael L. Rambo, Jr. is GRANTED until November
19, 2018, to file an amended complaint. Rambo
is CAUTIONED that if he does not respond by the deadline,
this case will be DISMISSED without further notice because
the current complaint does not state a claim.