United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Edward Harris, Jr., 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) (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.
complaint, Harris alleges that he told Supervisor Wanda, who
supervises the kitchen at the St. Joseph County Jail, that he
has allergies to certain types of food. However, she
continued to serve him these types of food and did not offer
him food that does not trigger his allergies. Though
Supervisor Wanda eventually made some effort to accommodate
Harris' allergies, she did so by serving him the same
type of food each day, including meat, potatoes, and rice,
which has caused him to lose weight and to become ill. Harris
seeks money damages and to not have to eat the same types of
food every day.
asserts that Supervisor Wanda violated his rights under the
Eighth Amendment by refusing to accommodate his food
allergies properly. To establish such an Eighth Amendment
claim, 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). Deliberate indifference means
that the defendant “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).
Based on the allegations in the complaint that Harris'
diet has resulted in medical complications, Harris asserts a
plausible Eighth Amendment claim against Supervisor Wanda.
also seeks an injunctive relief to obtain a medically and
nutritionally appropriate diet. 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 ordering correctional officials
to accommodate his dietary needs as required by the Eighth
Amendment. See Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d 679 (7th
Cir. 2012). The Warden of the St. Joseph County Jail has both
the authority and the responsibility to ensure that Harris
receives the accommodations to which he is entitled under the
Eighth Amendment. See Gonzalez v. Feinerman, 663
F.3d 311, 315 (7th Cir. 2011). Therefore, the court will add
the Warden as a defendant in her official capacity and allow
Harris to proceed against her on an injunctive relief claim.
these reasons, the court:
GRANTS James Edward Harris, Jr., leave to proceed against
Supervisor Wanda on an Eighth Amendment claim for money
damages for acting with deliberate indifference to serious
medical needs by failing to properly accommodate his dietary
ADDS the Warden of the St. Joseph County Jail as a defendant;
GRANTS James Edward Harris, Jr., leave to proceed against the
Warden of the St. Joseph County Jail in her official capacity
on a claim for injunctive relief to obtain the dietary
accommodations as required by the Eighth Amendment;
DISMISSES all other claims;
DIRECTS the clerk and the United States Marshals Service to
issue and serve process on Supervisor Wanda and the Warden of
the St. Joseph County Jail at the St. Joseph County Jail 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), Supervisor
Wanda and the Warden of the St. Joseph County Jail 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 James ...