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Sims v. Wexford/ N.C. P. Treatment Center

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

May 8, 2019

JOHN SIMS, Plaintiff,
WEXFORD/MEDICAL TREATMENT CENTER, WEXFORD/ N.C. P. TREATMENT CENTER, KEITH BUTTS Warden of New Castle Correctional Facility, G.E.O. WORLD HEADQUARTERS, KERIS Dr., CRAIG CANIFF Mr., BLACK Ms., MATTHEW Ms., SMITH Ms., HIAMEN Ms., VICKI E. BURDINE, DOSS Dr., BOUILLON Ms., HEATHER VERDON Ms., HANDCOCK Mr,, ZACHERY Mr., DARLING Ms., for Wexford/ N.C. P. Treatment Team Center, Individually and their official capacities, Defendants.



         I. Filing Fee

         In the Entry of March 14, 2019, dkt. 4, Plaintiff John Sims (“Mr. Sims”) was given through April 15, 2019, in which to either pay the $400.00 filing fee for this action or demonstrate that he lacks the financial ability to do so. He was ordered that if he seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis, his request must be accompanied by a copy of the transactions associated with his institution trust account for the 6-month period preceding the filing of this action on February 7, 2019. He was informed that failure to comply with that Order could subject the case to dismissal for failure to prosecute and failure to comply with Court orders.

         Mr. Sims has failed to comply with these directions. He shall have additional time, through May 31, 2019, in which to do so or else the action will be dismissed as abandoned and for failure to prosecute.

         II. Screening of the Complaint

         A. Legal Standards

         Mr. Sims is currently incarcerated at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. His allegations in this action are based on circumstances that arose at the New Castle Correctional Facility (New Castle). Because he is a “prisoner” as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(c), the Court has an obligation under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) to screen his complaint before service on the defendants. Pursuant to § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. In determining whether the complaint states a claim, the Court applies the same standard as when addressing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Cesal v. Moats, 851 F.3d 714, 720 (7th Cir. 2017). To survive dismissal,

[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Pro se complaints such as that filed by the plaintiff are construed liberally and held to “a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Cesal, 851 F.3d at 720.

         B. Allegations

         The complaint filed on February 7, 2019, names the following defendants: 1) Wexford/ N.C. P. Treatment Center; 2) Wexford/ Medical Treatment Center; 3) Warden Keith Butts of New Castle and G.E.O World Headquarters; 4) Dr. Keris; 5) Mr. Craig Caniff; 6) Ms. Black; 7) Ms. Matthew; 8) Ms. Smith; 9) Ms. Hiamen; 10) Vicki E. Burdine; 11) Dr. Doss; 12) Ms. Bouillon; 13) Ms. Heather Verdon; 14) Mr. Handcock; 15) Mr. Zachery; and 16) Ms. Darling. Mr. Sims names the defendants in their individual and official capacities. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief.

         Mr. Sims alleges that while he was housed on the New Castle mental health unit from February 8, 2018, until January 28, 2019, the mental health staff, including Dr. Keris, Ms. Hiamen, Ms. Matthew, Ms. Black, and Mr. Caniff, kept him on suicide watch for a long time as punishment even when he was on good behavior. He also alleges that mentally ill inmates were not allowed to participate in educational programs or to get jobs. He further alleges that Wexford and Warden Butts did not have the correct number of custody staff, mental health staff, or nurses working on the unit to run groups and provide proper treatment.

         C. Discussion

         At all times relevant to Mr. Sims's claims, he was a convicted offender. Accordingly, his treatment and the conditions of his confinement are evaluated under standards established by the Eighth Amendment's proscription against the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31 (1993) (“It is undisputed that the treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny ...

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