United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
TODD A. DILLON, Plaintiff,
SHARON HAWK, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
Dillon, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint.
“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, 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.
complaint, Dillon alleges that he entered into a contract to
attend classes and to work for Pen Products in exchange for
six months of credit for his sentence. Dillon worked long
hours in an attempt to fulfill the contract, but the program
was discontinued before he could complete it. As a result, he
did not receive the time credit, and he was not allowed to
transfer to another program. However, black inmates,
including those who had been found guilty of disciplinary
offenses, were allowed to transfer to another program. By
contrast, Dillon identifies as white and was not issued any
disciplinary reports. Dillon seeks credit time, a certificate
of completion, and damages for excessive classes and work.
start, Dillon names Pen Products and the Department of
Labor as defendants. However, these defendants
are State agencies,  and the Eleventh Amendment bars citizens
from suing State agencies. See Kashani v. Purdue
University, 813 F.2d 843 (7th Cir. 1987). He also names
Sharon Hawk, Bradley Williams, and William Hyatt, alleging
that they were generally responsible for the work program.
“It is well established that there is no respondeat
superior liability under § 1983.” Gayton v.
McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 622 (7th Cir. 2010).
“[Section] 1983 lawsuits against individuals require
personal involvement in the alleged constitutional
deprivation to support a viable claim.” Palmer v.
Marion Cty., 327 F.3d 588, 594 (7th Cir. 2003). Because
Dillon does not explain how Hawk, Williams, or Hyatt were
personally involved with his claims, he cannot proceed on a
claim of money damages against them. Nevertheless, Dillon may
proceed on injunctive relief claims against Hyatt in his
official capacity as Warden of the Miami Correctional
Facility. See Gonzalez v. Feinerman, 663 F.3d 311,
315 (7th Cir. 2011).
asserts a claim against the defendants for violating the
Equal Protection Clause, stating that black inmates were
allowed to transfer to other programs, but he was not.
“Unless it is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling
state interest, racial discrimination by state actors
violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment.” DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607,
618 (7th Cir. 2000). “A plaintiff asserting an equal
protection violation must establish that a state actor has
treated him differently than persons of a different race and
that the state actor did so purposefully.” Id.
Because the complaint suggests that Dillon was treated
differently than other inmates on the basis of race, Dillon
states a plausible claim for injunctive relief under the
Equal Protection Clause.
“[t]he 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
ordering Warden Hyatt to remedy Dillon's losses to the
extent required by the Equal Protection Clause.
also asserts an Eighth Amendment claim against the defendants
for the excessive classes and excessive work hours required
by the contract. The Eighth Amendment “imposes a duty
upon prison officials to provide humane conditions of
confinement and to take reasonable measures to guarantee the
safety of the inmates.” Bagola v. Kindt, 131
F.3d 632, 646 (7th Cir. 1997). It also forbids the
unnecessary infliction of physical or psychological pain.
Beal v. Foster, 803 F.3d 356, 358 (7th Cir. 2015).
While it is possible the excessive requirements of the
contract rose to the level of a constitutional violation,
Dillon does not explain how many hours he was required to
work and attend class, the type of work he performed, or any
other detail to suggest that he was subjected to inhumane,
unsafe, or humiliating conditions. As a result, the
allegations in the complaint are too vague to state a claim
under the Eighth Amendment.
these reasons, the court:
(1) GRANTS Todd A. Dillon leave to proceed on a claim for
injunctive relief against Warden William Hyatt in his
official capacity to remedy the employment contract-related
losses to the extent required by the Equal Protection Clause;
(2) DISMISSES Sharon Hawk, Bradley Williams, Pen Products,
and the Department of Labor;
(3) DISMISSES all other claims;
(4) DIRECTS the clerk and the United States Marshals Service
to issue and serve process on Warden William Hyatt 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), Warden
William Hyatt 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 Todd A. Dillon has ...