United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON, JUDGE
Dorsey, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint
alleging that, on December 20, 2016, he started working for
PEN Industries and performed various tasks at the direction
of Plant Manager Roark and Supervisor Williams. Dorsey tells
me that during his employment, Supervisor Williams and
Sergeant Arthur subjected him to a course of harassment based
on his race, including suggesting that Dorsey would assault a
female staff member, falsely accusing Dorsey of misconduct on
multiple occasions, and not allowing him to work if he
arrived late even if he had a legitimate reason for doing so.
According to Dorsey, Supervisor Williams and Sergeant Arthur
did not harass white inmate-employees. Dorsey reported the
harassment to Plant Manager Roark, who spoke with Supervisor
Williams and Sergeant Arthur in an attempt to stop the
harassment, but he was ultimately unsuccessful. Dorsey also
filed several grievances against them.
further alleges that on March 13, 2018, Officer Crowe
searched Dorsey upon his arrival at work. As Officer Crowe
patted Dorsey down, he gratuitously squeezed Dorsey's
buttocks. Dorsey complained about the improper search to
Supervisor Williams and Sergeant Arthur, but Officer Crowe
denied it. Supervisor Williams and Sergeant Arthur sided with
Officer Crowe and instructed Dorsey to return to his housing
unit. When Dorsey continued to question them, Williams
responded that Dorsey was fired and that he could file a
claims that Williams submitted a false classification report
to terminate his employment and a false disciplinary report
charging Dorsey with disorderly conduct. Dorsey submitted
grievances and sought an investigation in accordance with the
Prison Rape Elimination Act. On April 3, 2018, a
classification supervisor formally terminated Dorsey's
employment. Grievance Officer Morson denied the grievance
against Office Crowe following an investigation. On April 4,
Disciplinary Hearing Officer Winegardner found Dorsey guilty
of the offense of arguing with staff.
complaint, Dorsey seeks damages and injunctive relief.
“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.
asserts a claim under the Equal Protection Claim against
Supervisor Williams and Sergeant Arthur. “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. “To state a prima
facie case [of racial harassment in the employment context]
under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment, a plaintiff must demonstrate that [he]: (1) is a
member of a protected class; (2) is otherwise similarly
situated to members of the unprotected class; (3) suffered an
adverse employment action; (4) was treated differently from
members of the unprotected class; and (5) the defendant acted
with discriminatory intent.” McPhaul v. Bd. of
Comm'rs of Madison Cnty., 226 F.3d 558, 564 (7th
Cir. 2000), overruled on other grounds by Hill v.
Tangherlini, 724 F.3d 965 (7th Cir. 2013). Because the
complaint suggests that these defendants subjected Dorsey to
a course of harassment on the basis of race, Dorsey states a
plausible claim against them under the Equal Protection
also asserts a claim against Officer Crowe for an improper
strip search under the Eighth Amendment, alleging that
Officer Crowe squeezed his buttocks for the purpose of sexual
gratification or to humiliate Dorsey. “A prisoner
states a claim under the Eighth Amendment when he plausibly
alleges that the strip-search in question was motivated by a
desire to harass or humiliate rather than by a legitimate
justification, such as the need for order and security in
prisons.” King v. McCarty, 781 F.3d 889, 897
(7th Cir. 2015). Based on the allegations, Dorsey adequately
states an Eighth Amendment claim against Officer Crowe.
Dorsey asserts a First Amendment claim against Supervisor
Williams for retaliating against him for filing grievances
and for reporting the improper strip search by terminating
his employment and by submitting false reports. “To
prevail on his First Amendment retaliation claim, [a
plaintiff] must show that (1) he engaged in activity
protected by the First Amendment; (2) he suffered a
deprivation that would likely deter First Amendment activity
in the future; and (3) the First Amendment activity was at
least a motivating factor in the Defendants' decision to
take the retaliatory action.” Gomez v. Randle,
680 F.3d 859, 866 (7th Cir. 2012) (quotation omitted).
“To state a cause of action for retaliatory treatment,
a complaint need only allege a chronology of events from
which retaliation may be inferred.” Black v.
Lane, 22 F.3d 1395, 1399 (7th Cir. 1994) (quotation
omitted). Based on the allegations, Dorsey adequately states
a First Amendment claim of retaliation against Supervisor
also seeks injunctive relief to stop defendants from
retaliating for filing grievances, to update training
procedures, and to reinstate his employment. Notably,
“[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, 683 (7th Cir. 2012)
(quotation omitted). Notably, the complaint suggests that the
improper strip search was an isolated incident. Therefore,
injunctive relief, if granted, will be limited to ordering
the defendants to remedy the retaliation and discriminatory
employment practices to the extent required by the First
Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause. The Warden of the
Miami Correctional Facility has both the authority and the
responsibility to ensure that Dorsey receives the relief to
which he is entitled. See Gonzalez v. Feinerman, 663
F.3d 311, 315 (7th Cir. 2011). Therefore, Dorsey may proceed
against Warden William Hyatte in his official capacity for
his injunctive relief claim.
asserts claims against Sandi Roark, Neil Johnson, H.
Winegardner, William Hyatte, Traci Riggle, Nikki Neal, Sharon
Hawk, and William Wilson for acting with deliberate
indifference toward his complaints of racial harassment and
an improper strip search. The Eighth Amendment imposes a duty
on prison officials “to take reasonable measures to
guarantee the safety of inmates.” Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (quotation omitted).
“[I]n order to state a section 1983 claim against
prison officials for failure to protect, [a plaintiff] must
establish: (1) that he was incarcerated under conditions
posing a substantial risk of serious harm and (2) that the
defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his health
or safety. Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749, 756 (7th
Cir. 2010) (quotation omitted). While Dorsey alleges that
Officer Crowe, Supervisor Williams, and Sergeant Arthur acted
inappropriately, the allegations simply do not describe a
substantial risk of serious harm to his health or safety. As
a result, Dorsey cannot proceed on an Eighth Amendment claim
for money damages against Sandi Roark, Neil Johnson, H.
Winegardner, William Hyatte, Traci Riggle, Nikki Neal, Sharon
Hawk, and William Wilson.
also asserts claims against Shawna Morson and L.A. Van Natta
for mishandling his grievances. However, “the alleged
mishandling of [a prisoner's] grievances by persons who
otherwise did not cause or participate in the underlying
conduct states no claim.” Owens v. Hinsley,
635 F.3d 950, 953 (7th Cir. 2011). Therefore, the claims
against Shawna Morson and L.A. Van Natta are dismissed.
Dorsey asserts claims against PEN Industries and the Indiana
Department of Correction. However, these defendants are State
agencies,  and the Eleventh Amendment bars citizens
from suing State agencies. See Kashani v. Purdue
Univ., 813 F.2d 843, 845 (7th Cir. 1987). He also names
the Miami Correctional Facility as a defendant, but the
facility is a building, not a person or even a policy-making
unit of government that can be sued pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. See Sow v. Fortville Police Dep't,
636 F.3d 293, 300 (7th Cir. 2011). As a result, these
defendants are dismissed.
these reasons, the court:
GRANTS Kedrice Dorsey leave to proceed on a claim for money
damages against Brad Williams and Michael Arthur under the
Equal Protection Clause for racial harassment ...