United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. MILLER, JR. JUDGE
Burton, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint
against Ms. Lynn Beacon, Warden Julie Lawson, and Aramark.
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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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).
Burton sues Ms. Lynn Beacon because he believes the care he
received for his diabetes was inadequate. Mr. Burton alleges
that a member of the medical staff deliberately withheld his
insulin for two weeks. He also alleges that a medical staff
member administered the wrong insulin on January 2, 2019.
Under the Eighth Amendment, inmates are entitled to adequate
medical care. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104
(1976). To establish liability, a prisoner must satisfy both
an objective and subjective component by showing: (1) his
medical need was objectively serious; and (2) the defendant
acted with deliberate indifference to that medical need.
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). A
medical need is “serious” if it is one that a
physician has diagnosed as mandating treatment, or one that
is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize
the necessity for a doctor's attention. Greeno v.
Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). Deliberate
indifference means that the defendant “acted in an
intentional or criminally reckless manner, i.e., the
defendant must have known that the plaintiff was at serious
risk of being harmed and decided not to do anything to
prevent that harm from occurring even though he could have
easily done so.” Board v. Farnham, 394 F.3d
469, 478 (7th Cir. 2005). Mr. Burton hasn't alleged facts
from which it can be inferred that the alleged conduct was
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. He
describes medical errors, but negligence - even gross
negligence - doesn't violate the Constitution. Lee v.
Young, 533 F.3d 505, 509 (7th Cir. 2008). Furthermore,
Mr. Burton doesn't allege that Ms. Beacon caused his
insulin to be withheld or that she caused the wrong insulin
to be administered. There is no general respondeat
superior liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and Ms.
Beacon can't be held liable simply because she oversees
other medical staff. See Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d
592, 594 (7th Cir. 2009). “[P]ublic employees are
responsible for their own misdeeds but not for anyone
else's.” Id. at 596. “Only persons
who cause or participate in the violations are
responsible.” George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605,
609 (7th Cir. 2007). This complaint doesn't state a claim
against Ms. Beacon upon which relief could be granted.
Burton also sues Aramark. He alleges that Aramark, the
private company that provides meals at the jail, serves
inmates a juice product containing aspartame even though the
dangers of aspartame are well-known. Mr. Burton believes that
the aspartame in the juice caused him to suffer from
headaches, ringing in the ears, and dizziness. He has stopped
drinking the juice, and some of his symptoms have resolved.
Mr. Burton doesn't say he was required to consume the
juice product containing aspartame. In fact, it appears that
he was free to not consume it; he indicated that he has
stopped drinking it and his symptoms have improved. While a
private company may be held liable for constitutional
violations when it performs a state function, West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42 (1988), Mr. Burton hasn't
alleged a constitutional violation. Offering inmates
beverages containing aspartame, a product that is included in
many food products sold in the United States, doesn't
violate the Constitution. Hunter v. Yates, No.
1:07-CV-00151-AWI-SMS-PC, 2009 WL 233791, at *3 (E.D. Cal.
Jan. 30, 2009), report and recommendation adopted,
No. 1:07-CV-00151-AWI-SMS-PC, 2009 WL 1035358 (E.D. Cal. Apr.
17, 2009)(“Plaintiff's allegation that beverages
served at PVSP contain artificial sweeteners does not come
close to stating an Eighth Amendment violation.”) Mr.
Burton hasn't stated a claim upon which relief could be
granted against Aramark.
Mr. Burton sues Warden Julie Lawson, alleging that she
hasn't handled his grievances properly. Mr. Burton has no
constitutional right to access the grievance process. See
Grieveson v. Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 770 (7th Cir. 2008)
(noting that there is not a Fourteenth Amendment substantive
due-process right to an inmate grievance procedure). Mr.
Burton hasn't alleged that Warden Lawson was personally
involved in denying him insulin, having the wrong insulin
administered, or serving him beverages containing aspartame.
Mr. Burton might think that she is responsible for these
wrongs because she is the warden, section 1983
“liability 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). Mr. Burton hasn't stated a claim
upon which relief can be granted against Warden Lawson.
this complaint does not state a claim, the court will give
Mr. Burton a chance to replead his claims. Luevano v.
WalMart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1022-23, 1025 (7th
Cir. 2013); Loubser v. Thacker, 440 F.3d 439, 443
(7th Cir. 2006). If he chooses to file an amended complaint,
he should explain in his own words what happened, when it
happened, where it happened, who was involved, and how he was
personally injured by the conditions he describes, providing
as much detail as possible. If he includes more than one
claim, he needs to explain how his claims are related to one
another. He must include all of the facts and exhibits he
wishes the court to consider. The complaint cannot be amended
or supplemented by interlineation. N.D. Ind. L.R. 15-1.
Mr. Burton sent letters to the court asking when the
defendants were served with process and requesting a
settlement conference. (ECF 15, 16.) No defendant will be
served until the court has screened the amended complaint and
granted Mr. Burton leave to proceed on one or more claims.
While a settlement conference might be appropriate at a later
time, Mr. Burton's request is premature at this juncture.
these reasons, the court:
(1) DIRECTS the clerk to place this cause number on a blank
Prisoner Complaint form (INND Rev. 8/16) and sent it to
Frederick Burton; and
(2) GRANTS Frederick Burton to and including May
20, 2019, to file an amended complaint.
Burton doesn't respond by the deadline, this case will be
dismissed without further notice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §