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Haines v. Freeman

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

November 21, 2019

JAREL T. HAINES, Plaintiff,
v.
KENNY FREEMAN, et al. Defendants.

          ENTRY SCREENING COMPLAINT, SEVERING CLAIMS, AND DIRECTING ISSUANCE OF PROCESS

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         Plaintiff Jarel Haines is an inmate at the Jennings County Jail. Because Mr. Haines is a “prisoner” as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(c), this Court has an obligation under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) to screen his complaint before service on the defendants.

         I. Screening Standard

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. In determining whether the complaint states a claim, the Court applies the same standard as when addressing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Cesal v. Moats, 851 F.3d 714, 720 (7th Cir. 2017). To survive dismissal, the complaint:

must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Pro se pleadings such as that filed by the plaintiff are construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768, 776 (7th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation omitted).

         II. The Complaint

         Mr. Haines' complaint describes several incidents that took place in June and July of 2019. Some of these incidents appear to be unrelated to one another except to the extent that they involve Mr. Haines.

         Some of Mr. Haines' allegations support claims that will proceed in this action. Some are sufficient to support claims that cannot be properly joined in one case and must be severed into separate actions. Others are insufficient to support plausible claims for relief and must be dismissed.

         A. Use of Force on July 8, 2019

         Mr. Haines alleges that, on July 8, 2019, Lieutenant Evan Ponsler beat him, leaving him with broken bones, and denied him medical attention. Mr. Haines further alleges that Lieutenant Ponsler beat him at the direction of Jail Commander Jason Bliton. Based on these allegations, this action shall proceed with claims against Defendants Ponsler and Bliton pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Eighth or Fourteenth Amendment.[1]

         B. Denial of Kosher Diet

         Mr. Haines alleges that his religious beliefs require him to maintain a kosher diet and that Commander Bliton has denied him such a diet. This allegation supports a colorable claim that Commander Bliton (in his individual capacity) and Sheriff Kenny Freeman (in his official capacity) limited Mr. Haines' ability to practice his religious beliefs in violation of the First Amendment or the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ...


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