United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
JASON R. BOHLINGER, Plaintiff,
INDIANA STATE PRISON, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge
R. Bohlinger, a prisoner representing himself, filed a
complaint alleging that he was housed in substandard
conditions at the Indiana State Prison in 2016. The court
must review a prisoner 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. To survive dismissal, a
complaint must state a claim for relief that is plausible on
its face. Bissessur v. Indiana Univ. Bd. of Trs.,
581 F.3d 599, 602-603 (7th Cir. 2009). “A 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. Nevertheless, a pro se
complaint is entitled to liberal construction, “however
inartfully pleaded.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
Bohlinger alleges that, from July 25, 2016, to October 2,
2016. he was housed at ISP in a “non-ventilated box-car
type of cell” that contained blood and fecal matter
throughout. The temperature in the cell was regularly over
100 degrees. On July 29, 2016, Mr. Bohlinger was having a
hard time breathing due to the extreme heat and asked one of
the officers if he could leave the cuff port open to get some
air into his cell. The officer told Mr. Bohlinger that
Captain Bootz instructed that the cuff port had to remain
closed. Ultimately, Mr. Bohlinger passed out from the heat,
which caused him to fall and hit his head. Mr. Bohlinger was
diagnosed with heat stroke and was bedridden until August 2,
2016, and lost his ability to taste or smell. He sues the
Indiana State Prison, Warden Ron Neal, Captain Bootz and the
Indiana Department of Corrections for money damages and
Bohlinger alleges that Officer Bootz violated his Eighth
Amendment rights by housing him under unconstitutional
conditions. In evaluating an Eighth Amendment claim, courts
conduct both an objective and a subjective inquiry.
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). The
objective prong asks whether the alleged deprivation is
“sufficiently serious” so that “a prison
official's act results in the denial of the minimal
civilized measure of life's necessities.”
Id. Although “the Constitution does not
mandate comfortable prisons, ” Rhodes v.
Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349 (1981), inmates are entitled
to adequate food, clothing, shelter, bedding, hygiene
materials, and sanitation. Knight v. Wiseman, 590
F.3d 458, 463 (7th Cir. 2009); Gillis v. Litscher,
468 F.3d 488, 493 (7th Cir. 2006). Conditions of confinement
may establish a constitutional violation in combination when
each condition alone would not satisfy the standard.
Gillis v. Litscher, 468 F.3d at 493. On the
subjective prong, the prisoner must show the defendant acted
with deliberate indifference to the inmate's health or
safety. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. at 834.
[C]onduct is deliberately indifferent when the official has
acted in an intentional or criminally reckless manner,
i.e., the defendant must have known that the
plaintiff was at serious risk of being harmed and decided not
to do anything to prevent that harm from occurring even
though he could have easily done so.
Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d 469, 478 (7th Cir. 2005)
(internal citations and quotation marks omitted); see also
Reed v. McBride, 178 F.3d 849, 855 (7th Cir. 1999)
(where inmate complained about severe deprivations but was
ignored, he established a “prototypical case of
Bohlinger alleges that he was subjected to extreme heat and
filthy conditions for approximately 2 ½ months while
in the boxcar cell. He says that as a result of these
conditions, he suffered from a heat stroke, fell and lost his
ability to smell or taste. Giving him the inferences to which
he is entitled at this stage, he satisfies the objective
prong of the inquiry. With respect to the subjective prong,
the complaint can be plausibly read to allege that Captain
Bootz knew about the conditions, but did nothing to remedy
them. Again, giving him the inferences to which he is
entitled, he has stated enough to proceed on a claim against
Bohlinger asks for the prison not to use these types of cells
in the future. “The PLRA circumscribes the scope of the
court's authority to enter an injunction in the
corrections context. Where prison conditions are found to
violate federal rights, remedial injunctive relief must be
narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct
the violation of the Federal right, and use the least
intrusive means necessary to correct the violation of the
Federal right.” Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d 679
(7th Cir. 2012). Therefore, injunctive relief, if granted,
will be limited to requiring the Warden to house Mr.
Bohlinger under conditions that don't violate his
constitutional rights. Though it appears as though Mr.
Bohlinger isn't currently housed in the complained of
environment, it is plausible that he may be returned there.
See Ciarpaglini v. Norwood, 817 F.3d 541, 546 (7th
Cir. 2016) (noting that an injunctive claim should not be
deemed moot in situations where the prisoner is no longer
subject to the complained of conditions but the
“alleged wrongdoing is capable of repetition”).
With this in mind, Mr. Bohlinger will be permitted to proceed
against Warden Ron Neal in his official capacity on this
Mr. Bohlinger sues the Indiana Department of Correction. The
Department of Correction is not a proper defendant for any
money damage claim because it 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);
Kashani v. Purdue University, 813 F.2d 843, 845
(1987). And there's no need for Mr. Bohlinger to proceed
against the Department of Correction for his injunctive
relief claim. Doing so would be duplicative; he is being
given leave to proceed on that claim against the prison
warden, who is the person in control of where Mr. Bohlinger
will be housed whiled at the Indiana State Prison.
Bohlinger also sues the Indiana State Prison. Though the
prison is where these events occurred, it is a building, not
a person or even a policy making unit of government that can
be sued pursuant to Title 42 U.S.C. 1983.
final matter, to the extent Mr. Bolinger is trying to raise a
claim for negligence or other state law tort, he didn't
plausibly allege any such claim. Under the Indiana Tort
Claims Act, a tort claim against a political subdivision is
barred unless notice is filed with the governing body of the
political subdivision and its risk management commission
within 180 days of the loss. VanValkenburg v.
Warner, 602 N.E.2d 1046, 1048 (Ind.Ct.App. 1992); Ind.
Code § 34-13-3-8. The notice requirement applies not
only to political subdivisions but also to employees of
political subdivisions as well. Id. This complaint
includes no allegations to suggest that Mr. Bohlinger
complied with the notice requirements of the Indiana Tort
Claims Act. If Mr. Bohlinger has complied with the notice
requirements, he can set that out in an amended complaint.
these reasons, the court:
(1) GRANTS the plaintiff leave to proceed on an Eighth
Amendment claim against Captain Bootz in his individual
capacity for compensatory and punitive damages for housing
him under substandard conditions from July 25, 2016, through
October 2, 2016;
(2) GRANTS the plaintiff leave to proceed against Warden Ron
Neal in his official capacity on an injunctive relief claim
to house him under conditions that do not ...