United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Garcia, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint
against Warden Ron Neal and Sergeant R. Statham. “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) (quotation marks and citations omitted).
Nevertheless, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I 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.
complaint, James Garcia alleges that, on November 22, 2017,
Sergeant Statham arrived at his housing unit at the Indiana
State Prison. After three minutes of discussion, Sergeant
Statham sprayed a chemical agent in Garcia's eyes because
Sergeant Statham was angry and was having a bad day. As a
result, Garcia could not see, tripped over a bed post, and
hit his head on the floor. Later that day, Garcia was moved
to a cell with blood and fecal matter on the walls and floor,
no running water, and no heat. He was not given a mattress,
could only wear a shirt and boxers, and received no hot
meals. For his injuries, Garcia seeks money damages.
asserts an excessive force claim against Sgt. Statham. 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) (quotation
marks and 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 prisoner. Id.
According to Garcia, Sergeant Statham sprayed a chemical
agent on Garcia simply because he was having a bad day.
Therefore, the complaint states a plausible Eighth Amendment
claim of excessive force against Sergeant Statham.
asserts a state law claim of intentional inflectional
infliction of emotional distress. 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. Here, the
complaint includes no allegations to suggest that Garcia
complied with the notice requirements of the Indiana Tort
Claims Act. Therefore, the state law claim of intentional
infliction of emotional distress is dismissed.
also names Warden Ron Neal as a defendant, alleging
supervisory liability. However, “[i]t is well
established that there is no respondeat superior liability
under § 1983.” Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d
610, 622 (7th Cir. 2010). Rather, “[l]iability depends
on each defendant's knowledge and actions, not on the
knowledge or actions of persons they supervise.”
Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 594 (7th Cir.
2009). “[Section] 1983 lawsuits against individuals
require personal involvement in the alleged constitutional
deprivation to support a viable claim.” Palmer v.
Marion Cnty., 327 F.3d 588, 594 (7th Cir. 2003). Because
Garcia does not explain how Warden Ron Neal was personally
involved in his claims, Garcia cannot proceed against him.
Likewise, because Garcia does not explain how any defendant
was personally involved with the cell conditions, he cannot
proceed on that claim.
these reasons, the court:
(1) GRANTS James Garcia leave to proceed against Sergeant R.
Statham on an Eighth Amendment claim of excessive force for
spraying him with a chemical agent on November 22, 2017;
(2) DISMISSES Warden Ron Neal;
(3) DISMISSES all other claims;
(4) DIRECTS the clerk and the United States Marshals Service
to issue and serve process on Sergeant R. Statham at the
Indiana Department of Correction with a copy of this order
and the complaint (ECF 1) as required by 28 U.S.C. §
(5) ORDERS, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2),
Sergeant R. Statham to respond, as provided for in the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and N.D. Ind. L.R. 10-1(b),
only to the claims for which James Garcia has been granted
leave to proceed in this screening order.