United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
DEGUILIO JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
McNeil, 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). Nevertheless, pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, this court must review the
complaint and dismiss it if the action is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief. “In
order to state a claim under [42 U.S.C.] § 1983 a
plaintiff must allege: (1) that defendants deprived him of a
federal constitutional right; and (2) that the defendants
acted under color of state law.” Savory v.
Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th Cir. 2006).
complaint, McNeil alleges that, on September 8, 2018, he
asked Officer Griffin, a parole officer for the Gary District
Parole Office, for a transfer. He explained that he was in
danger of retaliation because he had testified for the
prosecution in a criminal case and had already been the
target of several attacks. Officer Griffin told McNeil that a
transfer could be processed in four months but refused to
initiate the transfer. McNeil flew to Texas but returned to
Indiana at the request of Officer Griffin. On November 1,
2018, someone stabbed him in the stomach, chest, head, face,
and hand in Lafayette, Indiana, outside of his assigned
parole district. He was taken from the hospital and arrested
for violating parole.
December 17, 2018, the parole board revoked his parole, and
he returned to incarceration at the Miami Correctional
Facility. There, he told correctional staff that he remained
in danger at the prison, and he has since been attacked twice
by other inmates. Though he has been moved around the prison,
his requests for protective custody have not been granted.
For his claims, he seeks money damages and injunctive relief.
asserts an Eighth Amendment claim against the defendants for
failing to protect him against retaliatory attacks. 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). “[P]rison officials have a duty to protect
prisoners from violence at the hands of other
prisoners.” Id. at 833. “[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). Courts have
found that the conduct of parole officers implicates the
Eighth Amendment in some situations. See e.g., Mitchell
v. Kallas, 895 F.3d 492, 502 (7th Cir. 2018) (parole
officers blocked parolee from obtaining medical treatment);
Hankins v. Lowe, 786 F.3d 603, 605 (7th Cir. 2015)
(imposing restrictions beyond parole term). In
Mitchell, the Seventh Circuit held that, while
parole officers may not be required to provide parolees with
medical treatment, they have some obligation not to impede
parolees who have made such arrangements for themselves.
Id. at 502. The court finds that Mitchell
is analogous to McNeil's allegations against Officer
Griffin, and McNeil may proceed against him.
also names the Indiana Department of Corrections, the Indiana
Parole Department, and Warden Hyatt. The Eleventh Amendment
bars “a suit by a citizen against the citizen's own
State in Federal Court.” Johns v. Stewart, 57
F.3d 1544, 1552 (7th Cir. 1995). This jurisdictional bar
extends to state agencies such as the Indiana Department of
Correction and the Indiana Parole Department, and he cannot
proceed against them. See Kashani v. Purdue
University, 813 F.2d 843 (7th Cir. 1987). Though McNeil
lists Warden Hyatt as a defendant, he does not mention him in
the narrative portion of the complaint. “[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). Because McNeil does not describe how Warden Hyatt was
personally involved with his claims, he cannot proceed
against Warden Hyatt in his individual capacity on a claim
for money damages.
also seeks injunctive relief, including his release from
incarceration or a transfer to a different facility. Given
the urgent and ongoing nature of the alleged threat to
McNeil's physical safety, the court construes the
complaint as including a motion for a preliminary injunction.
Because the Prison Litigation Reform Act limits the
court's authority to grant injunctive relief in this
case, the injunctive relief, if granted, will be limited to
requiring correctional officials to provide protective
measures for McNeil as required by the Eighth Amendment.
See Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d 679 (7th Cir. 2012).
Further, William Hyatt, as the warden of the Miami
Correctional Facility, has both the authority and the
responsibility to ensure that McNeil receive the protective
measures to which he is entitled under the Eighth Amendment.
See Gonzalez v. Feinerman, 663 F.3d 311, 315 (7th
Cir. 2011). Therefore, William Hyatt in his official capacity
is the proper party to respond to McNeil's claim for
injunctive relief and motion for a preliminary injunction.
these reasons, the court:
GRANTS Mickel McNeil leave to proceed on an Eighth Amendment
claim for money damages against Officer Griffin for acting
with deliberate indifference to his safety by preventing him
from protecting himself from violent attacks;
GRANTS Mickel McNeil leave to proceed on an injunctive relief
claim against Warden Hyatt in his official capacity to take
protective measures as required by the Eighth Amendment;
DISMISSES the Indiana Department of Correction and the
Indiana Parole Department;
DISMISSES all other claims;
DIRECTS the clerk and the United States Marshals Service to
issue and serve process on Officer Griffin and Warden 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.
ORDERS, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2), Officer
Griffin and Warden 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 Mickel ...