United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
Smith, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint
alleging he was injured while using exercise equipment at the
Indiana State Prison. 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, the court 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.
names the State of Indiana as a defendant. However, the
Eleventh Amendment generally precludes a citizen from suing a
State or one of its agencies or departments in federal court.
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). None of these exceptions
apply here. Congress did not abrogate the States'
immunity through the enactment of Section 1983. Joseph v.
Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Wis. Sys., 432 F.3d 746, 748
(7th Cir. 2005). Indiana has not consented to this lawsuit.
And Smith is only seeking monetary damages based on past
events. Therefore, the State of Indiana must be dismissed.
names Attorney General Curtis Hill as a defendant. Smith
alleges he denied a notice of tort claim. However, the denial
of a tort claim does not give rise to an independent cause of
action. Cf. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609 (7th
Cir. 2007) (“Ruling against a prisoner on an
administrative complaint does not cause or contribute to the
violation.”). Therefore, Curtis Hill must be dismissed.
names Acting Warden Ronald Neal as a defendant. However, he
does not allege Neal had any involvement with the claims
raised in this case. There is no general respondeat
superior liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
“Only persons who cause or participate in the
violations are responsible.” 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). Therefore Ronald Neal must be dismissed.
names Recreation Officer M. Hubbard as a defendant. He
alleges he was responsible for improperly maintaining the
exercise equipment which broke and caused his injuries. The
Eighth Amendment requires prison officials “must
provide humane conditions of confinement . . . and must
‘take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of
the inmates.'” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 832 (1994) (quoting Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S.
517, 526-27 (1984)). However, a prison official is liable
under the Eighth Amendment only if he “knows of and
disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or
safety.” Id. at 837. Conditions of confinement
must be severe to support an Eighth Amendment claim;
“the prison officials' act or omission must result
in the denial of ‘the minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities.” Id. at 834. The
Eighth Amendment only protects prisoners from conditions that
“exceed contemporary bounds of decency of a mature,
civilized society.” Jackson v. Duckworth, 955
F.2d 21, 22 (7th Cir. 1992). In other words, “[a]n
objectively sufficiently serious risk is one that society
considers so grave that to expose any unwilling individual to
it would offend contemporary standards of decency.”
Christopher v. Buss, 384 F.3d 879, 882 (7th Cir.
2004) (quotation marks and citations omitted).
Gray v. McCormick, 281 Fed.Appx. 592 (7th Cir.
2008), a prisoner was injured when a loose shower seat fell
and struck his foot. Prison officials had known of the loose
seat for at least two weeks prior to the incident, and had
not informed inmates of the hazard. Id. at 593. The
court held that the faulty shower seat did not create a
substantial risk of serious harm. Here, Officer Hubbard is
not alleged to have known the exercise equipment was broken
or even dangerous. He is only alleged to have improperly
maintained it. This does not state a claim and Officer
Hubbard must be dismissed.
alleges he has not received adequate medical treatment for
his injuries. However he has not provided facts explaining
why he believes his treatment was inadequate. A complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter to “state a
claim that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Neither does
Smith say whom he has told about his medical needs or which
healthcare providers have denied him medical treatment.
Rather he alleges Administrative Director Dawn Nelson Odel of
Corizon Health Services and Administrative Director Sherry
Fritter of Wexford of Indiana, LLC, have not given him copies
of his medical records. However, denying him copies of
medical paperwork did not deny him medical treatment.
Therefore Administrative Directors Odel and Fritter must be
complaint does not state a claim, but it is possible Smith
could state a claim if an individual medical provider was
deliberately indifferent and denied him medical treatment. If
that has happened, he may file an amended complaint. See
Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014 (7th Cir. 2013). To
do so, Smith needs to get a Prisoner Complaint (INND Rev.
8/16) form from the prison law library. He needs to put this
cause number on it. He needs to name the individual medical
staff whom he has told about his need for medical treatment.
He needs to explain what treatment he has been provided by
anyone for his injuries. He needs to explain why the
defendant's response was deliberately indifferent. He
needs to explain how the medical decisions made by the
defendant was a substantial departure from professional
judgment, practice, or standards. See Jackson v.
Kotter, 541 F.3d 688, 697 (7th Cir. 2008).
these reasons, the court:
(1) DISMISSES State of Indiana, Curtis T. Hill, Ronald Neal,
M. Hubbard, Dawn Nelson Odel, and Sherry Fritter;
(2) GRANTS Bradley Smith until December 28,
2018, to file an amended complaint; and
(3) CAUTIONS Bradley Smith if he does not respond by the
deadline, this case will be dismissed without further notice
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A because the ...