United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
R. Leichty, Judge.
Johnny Ray Jenkins, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed this
complaint alleging eight defendants failed to protect him
from another inmate's attack at the Miami Correctional
Facility. “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. To state a 42 U.S.C. § 1983
claim, a plaintiff must allege that (1) the defendants
deprived him of a federal constitutional right, and (2) they
acted under color of state law. Savory v. Lyons, 469
F.3d 667, 670 (7th Cir. 2006).
the Eighth Amendment, correctional officials have a
constitutional duty to protect inmates from violence.
Grieveson v. Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 777 (7th Cir.
2008). But, “prisons are dangerous places. Inmates get
there by violent acts, and many prisoners have a propensity
to commit more.” Id. Therefore, a
failure-to-protect claim cannot be predicated “merely
on knowledge of general risks of violence in a detention
facility.” Brown v. Budz, 398 F.3d 904, 913
(7th Cir. 2005). And, “the fact that an inmate sought
and was denied protective custody is not dispositive of the
fact that prison officials were therefore deliberately
indifferent to his safety.” Lewis v. Richards,
107 F.3d 549, 553 (7th Cir. 1997). Instead, the plaintiff
must establish that “the defendant had actual knowledge
of an impending harm easily preventable, so that a conscious,
culpable refusal to prevent the harm can be inferred from the
defendant's failure to prevent it.” Santiago v.
Wells, 599 F.3d 749, 756 (7th Cir. 2010); see also
Klebanowski v. Sheahan, 540 F.3d 633, 639-40 (7th Cir.
2008) (“equivalent of criminal recklessness”).
Jenkins alleges he was attacked on July 22, 2018, and again
on August 28, 2018. Before the first attack, he
“reported to Case Manager Mr. Angle that my cell mate
Justin Pearson and I were not getting along. I asked to be
moved to another cell cause I was concerned for my
safety.” ECF 2 at 2. This report provided Case Manager
Angle with significantly less information than the defendants
in Klebanowski. The complaint consequently does not
state a claim against Case Manager Angle based on the attack
of July 22, 2018.
Jenkins' reports preceding the second attack were more
specific. Before the August 28, 2018 attack, Mr. Jenkins
reported that after the first attack his cellmate threatened
to kill him if he saw him in the yard. His cellmate was a
high-ranking member of a prison gang and threatened that he
was ordering his fellow gang members to stab him on sight.
Mr. Jenkins alleges he reported these details to all eight
defendants and sought protective custody. Mr. Jenkins alleges
he did not get protective custody and was attacked by two
gang members after he was placed back in general population.
unclear what each of the defendants did in response to the
requests for protective custody. It is unclear whether all of
them (or any of them) were deliberately indifferent. It seems
unlikely that all eight were personally responsible for
making protective custody determinations and assignments.
“Bureaucracies divide tasks; no prisoner is entitled to
insist that one employee do another's job. The division
of labor is important not only to bureaucratic organization
but also to efficient performance of tasks; people who stay
within their roles can get more work done, more effectively,
and cannot be hit with damages under §1983.”
Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 595 (7th Cir.
2009). The “view that everyone who knows about a
prisoner's problem must pay damages implies that [a
prisoner] could write letters to the Governor of Wisconsin
and 999 other public officials, demand that every one of
those 1, 000 officials drop everything he or she is doing in
order to investigate a single prisoner's claims, and then
collect damages from all 1, 000 recipients[, t]hat can't
be right.” Id. And it isn't.
“[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). Nevertheless, at this
stage of the proceeding, Mr. Jenkins has plausibly stated a
claim against all eight defendants.
these reasons, the court:
(1) GRANTS Johnny Ray Jenkins leave to proceed against
Defendants Hyatte, Hawk, Hamrick, Angle, Dice, Neil, Barkus,
and McCullum in their individual capacities for compensatory
and punitive damages for not protecting him from attack by
fellow inmates at the Miami Correctional Facility on August
28, 2018 under the Eighth Amendment;
(2) DISMISSES all other claims;
(3) DIRECTS the clerk and the United States Marshals Service,
as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d), to issue and serve
process at the Indiana Department of Correction on Defendants
Hyatte, Hawk, Hamrick, Angle, Dice, Neil, Barkus, and
McCullum with a copy of this order and the complaint (ECF 2);
(4) ORDERS, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2), Hyatte,
Hawk, Hamrick, Angle, Dice, Neil, Barkus, and McCullum 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 the ...