United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
DEGUILIO JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Cortez Bradley, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a
complaint (ECF 1)against multiple defendants because of how
he was treated following a fire in his cell on January 30,
2019. “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.
January 30, 2019, there was a fire in Bradley's
cell. He was removed from the cell, but only
five to ten minutes later, Captain Dykstra ordered Lt. McNeal
and Lt. Lott to take Bradley back to the cell. As Lt. McNeal
and Lt. Lott escorted Bradley back to his cell in handcuffs,
Officer D. Moore and Bradley had a
disagreement. Officer Moore then physically assaulted
Bradley with a steel master key lock. To avoid being hit,
Bradley attempted to turn around, but he hit his head on the
corner of a wall and split his forehead open. The lock hit
his right arm, causing a deep cut. The “core
requirement” for an excessive force claim is that the
defendant “used force not in a good-faith effort to
maintain or restore discipline, but maliciously and
sadistically to cause harm.” Hendrickson v.
Cooper, 589 F.3d 887, 890 (7th Cir. 2009). Several
factors guide the inquiry of whether an officer's use of
force was legitimate or malicious, including the need for an
application of force, the amount of force used, and the
extent of the injury suffered by the prisoner. Id.
Giving Bradley the inferences to which he is entitled at this
stage of the case, the court finds that Bradley has stated an
excessive force claim against Officer Moore for attacking him
with a lock on January 30, 2019, while handcuffed.
after the attack, Officer Celes (spelled Seles in the body of
the complaint) secured the lock to prevent a further attack.
He did not, however, report that Officer Moore had attacked
Bradley with a lock and did not turn the lock over as part of
the investigation. At most, this is a violation of IDOC
policy, and a policy violation does not state a claim.
Scott v. Edinburg, 346 F.3d 752, 760 (7th Cir. 2003)
(“However, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 protects plaintiffs
from constitutional violations, not violations of state laws
or, in this case, departmental regulations and police
practices.”). Therefore, Bradley may not proceed
against Officer Celes.
the incident, Bradley was returned to his cell. The cell had
not been inspected to determine that it was safe and had not
been cleaned. It was still smoky, and Captain Dykstra knew that
the smoke posed a risk to Bradley's health Bradley
because he has asthma. Bradley remained in the smoky cell for
twenty to thirty before he was again removed. He does not
allege that he was injured by any unsafe condition in the
cell or that he suffered an asthma attack due to spending
twenty to thirty minutes in the smoky cell. “[C]onduct
is deliberately indifferent when the official has 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) (quotation marks, brackets, and
citation omitted). Here, Bradley has not alleged that he was
harmed by being placed in the smoky cell shortly after the
fire was extinguished. He alleges only that he could have
been harmed, and he therefore has not stated a claim against
Captain Dykstra for deliberate indifference to his safety by
returning him to the smoky cell.
twenty to thirty minutes in the smoky cell, Sgt. Gordon told
Bradley to cuff-up. Sgt. Gordon was with Officer Thompson and
an unknown officer. Bradley told Sgt. Gordon that he no
longer had any underwear and he needed something to wear
before he went with them. His request was denied, and Bradley
was required to walk down the range naked. Bradley found this
embarrassing. It can be reasonably inferred that Bradley is
alleging that he was forced to walk down the range naked
without a valid correctional justification and for the
purposes of harassing or humiliating him. See King v.
McCarty, 781 F.3d 889, 897 (7th Cir. 2015) (finding that
“[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” and that”[e]ven
where prison authorities are able to identify a valid
correctional justification for the search, it may still
violate the Eighth Amendment if conducted in a harassing
manner intended to humiliate and cause psychological
pain.”). Giving Bradley the benefit of the inferences
to which he is entitled at this stage, he will be permitted
to proceed on this claim against Sgt. Gordon and Officer
Thompson in their individual capacities for compensatory and
further alleges that Sgt. Gordon violated his religious
rights by forcing him to expose his genitals. Prisoners have
a right to exercise their religion under the Free Exercise
Clause of the First Amendment. Vinning-El v. Evans,
657 F.3d 591, 592-93 (7th Cir. 2011). Nevertheless, correctional
officials may restrict the exercise of religion if the
restrictions are reasonably related to legitimate penological
objectives, which include safety, security, and economic
concerns. Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89-91
(1987). Here, Bradley asserts that Sgt. Gordon knew that
Bradley was a Muslim and knew that it violated Bradley's
religious beliefs to expose his genitals. It can reasonably
be inferred that this requirement was not reasonably related
to a legitimate penological interest. Therefore, Bradley may
proceed against Sgt. Gordon on a claim that she violated his
First Amendment rights by requiring him to expose his
genitals while walking down the range naked on January 30,
also alleges that Captain Dykstra and Lt. Cabinaw placed him
in a restraining chair following the incident with Officer
Moore even though he followed all orders and did not resist.
He was in the chair for one hour before being placed in SMC
without socks, a t-shirt, a sheet or a blanket despite the
cold weather. “Once it is established that the force
was applied in a good faith effort to maintain discipline and
not maliciously or sadistically for the purpose of causing
harm, the courts give great deference to the actions of
prison officials in applying prophylactic or preventive
measures intended to reduce the incidence of riots and other
breaches of prison discipline.” Williams v.
Burton, 943 F.2d 1572, 1576 (11th Cir. 1991)(citations
omitted - check original). Here, it can be inferred that the
use of the restraint chair was without any legitimate
purposes. Accordingly, Bradley will be permitted to proceed
against Captain Dykstra and Lt. Cabinaw for placing him in a
restraint chair even though he was following orders and not
resisting on January 30, 2019.
Bradley alleges that Lt. Cabinaw delayed necessary medical
care by placing him in the restraint chair following his
injuries instead of seeking medical care for him. Under the
Eighth Amendment, inmates are entitled to constitutionally
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).
A delay in providing treatment can constitute deliberate
indifference when it causes unnecessary pain or suffering.
See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 752-53 (7th
Cir. 2011); Grieveson v. Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 779
(7th Cir. 2008). It is not clear how serious Bradley's
medical needs were following the incident with Officer Moore,
but giving him the benefit of the inferences to which he is
entitled at this stage, he will be granted leave to proceed
against Lt. Cabinaw on this claim.
also asserts that Lt. Cabinaw placed him in danger by
permitting a cell extraction team to escort him to a hospital
on a stretcher in freezing temperatures in only a pair of
boxers, in order to humiliate him. As to this claim, the
allegations in the complaint are quite vague. It is unclear
when or why Bradley was taken to the hospital, what role Lt.
Cabinaw played in that decision, who decided that Bradley
should be transported in only his boxer shorts, if a blanket
or other covering was provided while outside, or whether Lt.
Cabinaw had a reasonable opportunity to provide Bradley with
clothing prior to his transport. Even if Bradley's
constitutional rights were violated during his transport to
the hospital, mere knowledge that another has violated the
Constitution does not lead to liability. Here, Bradley has
not alleged that Lt. Cabinaw caused him to be transported
outside in only his boxer shorts - or even that he had a
reasonable opportunity to prevent it. “[P]ublic
employees are responsible for their own misdeeds but not for
anyone else's.” Burks v. Raemisch, 555
F.3d 592, 596 (7th Cir. 2009). This does not state a claim.
additional alleges that, while he was housed in SMC, he was
denied water and a mattress, and he could not flush the
toilet for fourteen days. Bradley, however, does not indicate
who was responsible for these conditions. “[P]ublic
employees are responsible for their own misdeeds but not for
anyone else's.” Burks v. Raemisch, 555
F.3d 592, 596 (7th Cir. 2009). Accordingly, this claim will
Bradley's complaint contains vague allegation that Ron
Neal allowed Officer Moore to continue to harass him when he
returned to his cell house two weeks later. Bradley believes
that, because of the incident between them, Officer Moore
should have been assigned somewhere else. Bradley, however,
has not alleged that Warden Neal was personally involved in
the decision not to reassign Officer Moore. There is no
general respondeat superior liability under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609 (7th Cir.
2007). Accordingly, Bradley may not proceed against Warden
Neal on this claim.
these reasons, the court:
(1) DIRECTS the clerk to include the supplement submitted by
Jermaine Cortez Bradley (ECF 6) as an exhibit to ...