United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Cleveland, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint
(ECF 1) against the Warden of the Indiana State Prison, Sgt.
Tustison, and Lt. St. Martin alleging that he is being
retaliated against for filing complaints. “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.
prevail on his First Amendment retaliation claim, [Cleveland]
must show that (1) he engaged in activity protected by the
First Amendment; (2) he suffered a deprivation that would
likely deter First Amendment activity in the future; and (3)
the First Amendment activity was at least a motivating factor
in the Defendants’ decision to take the retaliatory
action.” Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 866
(7th Cir. 2012) (quotation marks and citations omitted).
Cleveland alleges that he engaged in protected activity by
filing several complaints against officers. Cleveland claims
that, on July 4, 2019, Sgt. Tustison falsely alleged that he
possessed a weapon shaped like a knife, and that he made the
false allegation because Cleveland has filed
complaints. He further alleges that Lt. St. Martin
lied by saying that she viewed the video and that the video
shows Officer Tustison removing the knife from his person.
Cleveland alleges that Lt. St. Martin also lied because
Cleveland had filed complaints. The filing of a conduct
report would likely deter future First Amendment activity.
Here, giving Cleveland the inferences to which he is entitled
at this early stage, he has stated a claim.
asserts that three of the officers he has sued in other cases
(Sgt. Gordon, Officer Pacheco, and Officer Masson) remain in
his range, and he claims that he is afraid for his life when
one of the officers (Officer Masson) is present. But,
Cleveland does not indicate that these officers remain on his
range at the direction of Sgt. Tustison, Lt. St. Martin, or
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).
“[P]ublic employees are responsible for their own
misdeeds but not for anyone else’s.” Id.
at 596. The doctrine of respondeat superior, which
allows an employer to be held liable for subordinates’
actions in some types of cases, has no application to §
1983 actions. Moore v. State of Indiana, 999 F.2d
1125, 1129 (7th Cir. 1993). Cleveland has not alleged that
any of the defendants sued here were involved in the decision
to allow Sgt. Gordon, Officer Pacheco, and Officer Masson to
remain on his range after he filed lawsuits against them.
Furthermore, while Cleveland has indicated that he is afraid
of Officer Masson, he has not alleged that he has presented
information to any of these defendants that suggests that
they were deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk that
Cleveland would face serious harm at the hands of Officer
Masson. Indeed, he has not presented facts showing
that there is a substantial risk that he will face serious
harm at the hands of Officer Masson in his complaint. Thus,
Cleveland may not proceed against any of the defendants named
in this lawsuit on these allegations.
final matter, Cleveland seeks to be transferred to another
facility. “Prison officials have broad administrative
and discretionary authority over the institutions they
manage.” Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d 679 (7th
Cir. 2012) (quotation marks, brackets, and citations
omitted). Prison officials must afford inmates their
constitutional rights, but where to house an inmate is just
the type of decision that is squarely within the discretion
of prison officials. The facts presented here do not warrant
an intrusion upon that discretion.
these reasons, the court:
GRANTS Keith Cleveland leave to proceed against Sgt. Tustison
in her individual capacity for monetary damages for
retaliating against him for filing complaints against
officers by making a false disciplinary allegation against
him on July 4, 2019, in violation of the First Amendment;
GRANTS Keith Cleveland leave to proceed against Lt. St.
Martin and in his individual capacity for monetary damages
for retaliating against him for filing complaints against
officers by making a false statement in support of a
disciplinary allegation against him on or about July 4, 2019,
in violation of the First Amendment;
DISMISSES all other claims;
DISMISSES the Indiana State Prison Warden;
DIRECTS the clerk and the United States Marshals Service to
issue and serve process on Sgt. Tustison and Lt. St. Martin
at the Indiana Department of Correction with a copy of this
order and the complaint (ECF 1) as required by 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(d); and
ORDERS pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2), Sgt.
Tustison and Lt. St. Martin to respond, as provided for in
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and N.D. Ind. L.R.
10-1(b), only to the claim for which the plaintiff has been
granted leave to proceed in this screening order.