United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
CHRISTOPHER L. SCRUGGS, Plaintiff,
C.O. MANGOLD, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Scruggs, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed objections to
this court's order screening his complaint (ECF 7), which
will be construed as a motion to reconsider the screening
order (ECF 5) issued pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
outlined in the screening order, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A, the court must review a complaint filed by a prisoner
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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (b). The court must bear
in mind, however, that “[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
asserts that this court erred in dismissing Sergeant Young.
The facts underlying the complaint were fully outlined in the
prior order and will not be repeated here, except as is
relevant to the present motion. As to Sergeant Young, Scruggs
alleges that Sergeant Young knew that Officer Mangold wanted
to beat him up, and that Sergeant Young should have alerted
someone to the setup before it was carried out. More
specifically, Scruggs alleges that he relayed to Sergeant
Young that Officer Mangold was saying he wanted to kick his
ass. And, with Sergeant Young present, Scruggs said to
Officer Mangold, “if you want to kick my ass all you
have to do is what you did last time and just tell them I
spit on you.” (Id.) As explained in the
screening order, “officers who have a realistic
opportunity to step forward and prevent a fellow officer from
violating a plaintiff's right through the use of
excessive force but fail to do so” may be held liable.
Miller v. Smith, 220 F.3d 491, 495 (7th Cir. 2000)
(citing Yang v. Hardin, 37 F.3d 282, 285 (7th
Cir.1994). This is what has become known as a “failure
to intervene” basis for a constitutional violation
under the Eighth Amendment, a principle which this circuit
has long recognized. Fillmore v. Page, 358 F.3d 496
506 (7th Cir. 2004); Crowder v. Lash, 687 F.2d 996,
1005 (7th Cir.1982). Scruggs argues that this court erred in
dismissing Sergeant Young because he had an opportunity to
intervene to prevent his fellow officers from using excessive
force, but Sergeant Young's dismissal was not based on
whether he had an opportunity to intervene. Rather, it cannot
be reasonably inferred from the brief exchange between
Scruggs and Sergeant Young that Sergeant Young was aware that
there was anything for him to intervene in. Officer Mangold
was not using excessive force against Scruggs at the time
these comments were made, and the comments Scruggs includes
in his complaint were not sufficiently specific to place
Sergeant Young on notice that Officer Mangold intended to use
force against Scruggs without cause. Accordingly, Scruggs has
not stated a claim against Sergeant Young, and the court
stands by its decision to dismiss him.
Scruggs objects to the court's handling of his request
that he be permitted to recover damages for mental and
emotional distress. Scruggs was granted leave to seek
compensatory damages from several defendants. Damages for
mental and emotional suffering are merely a type of
compensatory damages. See 42 U.S.C. 1997e(e);
Thomas v. Illinois, 697 F.3d 612, 614 (7th Cir.
2012). Thus, the court's screening order does
not preclude Scruggs from recovering for mental and emotional
distress if he prevails on his claims.
Scruggs objects to the dismissal of his injunctive relief
claims. Scruggs' injunctive relief claims were dismissed
because the events alleged in this complaint occurred at
Westville Correctional Facility, but he is no longer housed
there. The Court concluded that his requests for injunctive
relief were therefore moot. He now argues that, because he is
still incarcerated, he could be sent back to Westville. If a
prisoner is released or transferred to another prison after
he files a complaint, “his request for injunctive
relief against officials of the first prison is moot unless
‘he can demonstrate that he is likely to be
retransferred.'” Higgason v. Farley, 83
F.3d 807, 811 (7th Cir. 1996), quoting Moore v.
Thieret, 862 F.2d 148, 150 (7th Cir. 1988). Scruggs'
argument is based on nothing more than the mere fact that he
is still being held by the Indiana Department of Corrections.
Thus, he has not demonstrated that he is likely to be
retransferred. Scruggs also argues that his injunctive relief
claims are not moot because the IDOC is now using digital
cameras where footage can be easily edited to conceal the
defendants' actions, and that videos have been edited in
some of his other cases. Scruggs has not alleged that any
defendant he has been granted leave to proceed against in
this case has edited video footage relevant to this case.
Indeed, until discovery takes place and he obtains relevant
videos, he will not know if a video has been altered or not.
This is a discovery issue. If Scruggs obtains video footage
through the discovery process and believes it has been
edited, then he can make his argument in the context of his
specific complaint and seek appropriate relief.
these reasons, the court DENIES Scruggs' request for