United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
DEGUILIO JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Stewart, a prisoner without a lawyer, was assaulted by
another inmate while housed at the Miami Correctional
Facility. He has filed an amended complaint naming eighteen
defendants and alleging that they failed to protect him and
denied him adequate medical care following the attack.
“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, this 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
13, 2017, Stewart was moved into a cell shared with offender
Jawaun Woods. Stewart quickly learned that Woods had a
reputation as a mentally ill and violent homosexual with a
history of assaulting his cellmates, both physically and
sexually. In response to this information, Stewart asked Case
Worker Bailey, who knew of Woods' history of assaulting
other inmates, to move him immediately. She determined that,
due to Stewart's classification, he should not have been
housed in that unit. Stewart also learned that the intercom
in his new cell was broken, and he told Case Worker Bailey
that he was afraid to be housed with Woods without even
having an intercom to contact officers if Woods attacked him.
She indicated that he should be patient. She further
indicated that she would message classification, let the
administration know about his situation, and have him moved
as soon as she could. Stewart repeatedly reminded Case Worker
Bailey of his need to be moved, but she acted as if she was
too busy to deal with his situation.
23, 2017, ten days after Stewart began sharing a cell with
Woods, Woods attacked Stewart. Woods threatened Stewart with
a knife, and Stewart believed that Woods would kill him if he
called for help. An officer delivered food just after the
attack, but Woods had already warned Stewart that he would
kill him if Stewart called out while the food sacks were
being delivered. When the sack was delivered, Woods blocked
the window such that the officer could not see Stewart.
Because of his fear, Stewart did not yell for help. At 7:00
p.m., the cell doors opened, and the guards were alerted to
what happened. As a result of the attack, Stewart suffered a
concussion and his eyes, lips and face were swollen. Woods
was taken to lockup, and Stewart was placed in a holding cell
in the Restricted Housing Unit.
alleges that Case Worker Bailey should have protected him
from this attack. When an inmate is attacked by another
inmate, the Eighth Amendment is violated only if
“deliberate indifference by prison officials
effectively condones the attack by allowing it to
happen.” Haley v. Gross, 86 F.3d 630, 640 (7th
Cir. 1996). The defendant “must both be aware of facts
from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial
risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the
inference.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
837 (1994). General requests for help and expressions of fear
are insufficient to alert guards to the need for action.
Klebanowski v. Sheahan, 540 F.3d 633, 639-40 (7th
Cir. 2008). By contrast, “a complaint that identifies a
specific, credible, and imminent risk of serious harm and
identifies the prospective assailant typically will support
an inference that the official to whom the complaint was
communicated had actual knowledge of the risk.”
Gevas v. McLaughlin, 798 F.3d 475, 481 (7th Cir.
2015). “Even if an official is found to have been aware
that the plaintiff was at substantial risk of serious injury,
he is free from liability if he responded to the situation in
a reasonable manner.” Fisher v. Lovejoy, 414
F.3d 659, 664 (7th Cir. 2005). Here, it can plausibly be
inferred that, based on Case Worker Bailey's knowledge of
Wood's history of attacking other cellmates, Case Worker
Bailey knew that an attack was inevitable if Stewart and
Woods were not separated. Giving Stewart the inferences to
which he is entitled, he has stated a claim against Case
Worker Bailey for failure to protect him from Woods,
resulting in Stewart's attack on May 23, 2017.
also alleges that Superintendent Kathy L. Griffin, Assistant
Superintendent Sharon Hawk, Captain Ertel, Captain Shotimer,
Sgt. Hieshman and Officer Wilson all knew (either from Case
Worker Bailey or directly from Stewart) that Stewart was
housed with Woods, that Woods had a history of attacking his
cellmates, that the intercom in Stewart's cell was not
working, and that Stewart was afraid of Woods, but none of
them took any action to protect Stewart. But, “'no
prisoner is entitled to insist that one employee do
another's job,' and the division of labor is critical
to the efficient functioning of the organization.”
Aguilar v. Gaston-Camara, 861 F.3d 626, 633 (7th
Cir. 2017)(quoting Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592,
594 (7th Cir. 2009).
Seventh Circuit explained in Burks:
The division of labor is important not only to bureaucratic
organization but also to efficient performance of tasks;
people who stay within their roles can get more work done,
more effectively, and cannot be hit with damages under
§1983 for not being ombudsmen. [The] view that everyone
who knows about a prisoner's problem must pay damages
implies that [a prisoner] could write letters to the Governor
of Wisconsin and 999 other public officials, demand that
every one of those 1, 000 officials drop everything he or she
is doing in order to investigate a single prisoner's
claims, and then collect damages from all 1, 000 recipients
if the letter-writing campaign does not lead to better
medical care. That can't be right. The Governor, and for
that matter the Superintendent of Prisons and the Warden of
each prison, is entitled to relegate to the prison's
medical staff the provision of good medical care.
Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 595 (7th Cir.
2009). Likewise, Stewart cannot hold everyone that knew he
feared his cellmate because of his reputation liable for
deliberate indifference to his safety. Stewart alleges that
he asked Case Worker Bailey to move him and Case Worker
Bailey failed to move him before he was attacked by Woods.
Superintendent Kathy L. Griffin, Assistant Superintendent
Sharon Hawk, Captain Ertel, Captain Shotimer, Sgt. Hieshman
and Officer Wilson are akin to the recipients of a letter
writing campaign and will therefore be dismissed.
Stewart claims that Lieutenant Stalhood and Mr. Stoll were
indifferent to his safety because they knew the intercom was
broken and did not relocate Stewart until a repair could be
made. Stewart does not allege that Lieutenant Stalhood or Mr.
Stoll knew anything about Woods' history of assaulting
inmates or Stewart's safety concerns - he alleges only
that they knew that the intercom was not working. Merely
failing to remove Stewart from a cell with a broken intercom
or failing to fix the broken intercom with haste does not
demonstrate deliberate indifference to Stewart's safety.
This does not state a claim.
Stewart alleges that Sgt. Crossor and Sgt. Porter were
deliberately indifferent to his safety by failing to perform
their routine rounds properly every thirty minutes to ensure
Stewart was safe when they knew that the emergency intercom
in Stewart's cell was not working. Stewart asserts that
the guard that delivered the sack should not have allowed
Woods to block the cell window. Stewart does not indicate
which guard delivered the sack, but it does not matter. A
violation of the prison's own policy does not equal a
constitutional violation. Scott v. Edinburg, 346
F.3d 752, 760 (7th Cir. 2003)(“However, 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 protects plaintiffs from constitutional
violations, not violations of state laws or, in this case,
departmental regulations and police practices.”)
Stewart does not allege facts from which is can be plausibly
inferred that either Sgt. Crossore or Sgt. Porter were
deliberately indifferent to Stewart's safety. Therefore,
the claims against Sgt. Crossore and Sgt. Porter will be
suffered significant trauma to his face and head during the
attack. Once Stewart was in the holding cell in the
Restricted Housing Unit, he received a cursory medical
assessment by an unnamed nurse. The nurse checked his blood
pressure and his temperature but did not provide him with any
care for his wounds. The next day, he told both Officer Banks
and Officer J. Michael that he believed he had a concussion.
He was vomiting and could barely see. He told Officer Banks
that he was having severe headaches and that his head hurt so
bad he felt dizzy. He asked both Officer A. Banks and Officer
J. Michael for a medical request form and a writing utensil,
but they refused to get him the materials he needed and
refused to take any other action to see that he received
medical treatment. Four days later, Stewart obtained a
medical form and pencil from another offender. He was not
sent to the infirmary until two and a half weeks after the
attack. The Eighth Amendment test is expressed in terms of
whether the defendant was deliberately indifferent to the
plaintiff's serious medical need. Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976). A medical need is
“serious” if it is “one that has been
diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that
is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize
the necessity for a doctor's attention.” Greeno
v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005).
“[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) (quotation
marks, brackets, and citation omitted). Stewart has alleged
that Officer Banks and Officer J. Michael could see that he
was severely injured, were told that he was in great pain,
and refused to summon medical help. Giving Stewart the
benefit of the inferences to which he is entitled at this
stage of the proceedings, this states a plausible claim of
alleges that Officer A. Banks, Officer J. Michael, Sgt.
Hieshman, Sgt. Porter, Sgt. Crossore should be liable to him
for placing him in a disciplinary unit for two and a half
weeks when he did not commit a disciplinary offense.
Generally, prison administrators are afforded wide-ranging
deference in managing prisons and deciding where to house
inmates. See Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 321-22
(1986), abrogated on other grounds by Wilkins v.
Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34 (2010); Sandin v. Conner,
515 U.S. 472, 485 (1995). Here, Stewart was housed in the
Restrictive Housing Unit for only two-and-a-half weeks. This
does not state a claim.
also alleges that, when he did receive medical care beyond a
cursory assessment by an unnamed nurse, it was inadequate.
First, Stewart alleges that Dr. Marandet and Dr. Kuenzli both
failed to answer multiple medical requests to be evaluated
for a concussion, and that Dr. Marandet, Dr. Kuenzli, Kym
Myers, Debbie Templin, and Loretta Dawson all made conscious
decisions to not see him despite his requests. He further
alleges that none of these individuals would send him to see
a specialist, even though he needed specialized care to find
out the extent of the damage from the attack and address his
chronic pain. “For a medical professional to be liable
for deliberate indifference to an inmate's medical needs,
he must make a decision that represents such a substantial
departure from accepted professional judgment, practice, or
standards, as to demonstrate that the person responsible
actually did not base the decision on such a judgment.”
Jackson v. Kotter, 541 F.3d 688, 697 (7th Cir. 2008)
(quotation marks and citations omitted). Furthermore, a delay
in providing treatment can constitute deliberate indifference
when it causes unnecessary pain or suffering. Arnett v.
Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 752-53 (7th Cir. 2011);
Grieveson v. Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 779 (7th Cir.
2008). Stewart does not indicate when he made his multiple
health care requests or how he submitted them. He does not
indicate how he knew that any of these individuals were
actually aware of his multiple requests. The only health
care request form that Stewart provided is one dated August
20, 2018, well after this lawsuit was initiated and just days
before the amended complaint was filed. In that request,
Stewart indicates that he is still suffering from headaches
and, despite multiple requests, Kim Myers has not sent him to
see a specialist for evaluation. The response to the requests
indicates that Dr. Kuentzi is aware that Stewart has
headaches and that he can follow up with the doctor at his
next chronic care appointment. The ...