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Sterling v. Long

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

December 9, 2019

DEVON STERLING, Plaintiff,
v.
AARON LONG, et al. Defendants.

          ORDER SCREENING AMENDED COMPLAINT, DISMISSING ACTION, AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          James Patrick Hanlon United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Devon Sterling, an inmate at Pendleton Correctional Facility, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action alleging that the defendants subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment by housing him in the same unit as an inmate who had previously attacked him. The Court screened and dismissed Mr. Sterling's original complaint but allowed him an opportunity to amend. Dkt. 9. Mr. Sterling has filed an amended complaint. The clerk is directed to re-docket Mr. Sterling's amended complaint, dkt. [11-1], as the Amended Complaint. It is now the operative complaint in this action and is subject to screening.

         I. Screening Standard

         The Court must dismiss the amended 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). In determining whether the amended 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).

         II. The Amended Complaint

         The amended complaint names three defendants: (1) Aaron Long, (2) Warden Dushan Zatecky, and (3) Chairman of Classification.

         Mr. Sterling alleges that he was stabbed by another inmate on October 19, 2017. The amended complaint does not name the other inmate, but attachments and publicly available records reveal that his name was Ezekiel Jones.[1] In February 2018, the defendants placed Mr. Sterling and Mr. Jones in the same housing unit.

         According to Mr. Sterling, Mr. Jones attacked him again on July 11, 2018. Mr. Sterling does not allege that he suffered any injuries from this attack, but the amended complaint alleges that the attack “resulted in ‘irreparable harm,' (Death).” Dkt. 11-1 at 5. The Indiana Department of Correction website reveals that Mr. Jones died on July 11, 2018.

         Mr. Sterling alleges that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his safety when they allowed him to be housed with Mr. Jones following the October 2017 attack. He seeks damages.

         III. Discussion

         Under the Eighth Amendment, prison officials have a duty “to ‘protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners.'” Santiago v. Wells, 599 F.3d 749, 758 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 833 (1994)). But a constitutional tort, like any other tort, requires a showing that the defendant's actions caused the plaintiff's injury. Flint v. City of Belvidere, 791 F.3d 764, 770 (7th Cir. 2015).

         Mr. Sterling alleges that he suffered injuries in the October 2017 attack. Dkt. 11-1 at 3-4 (“[T]his petitioner sustained injuries on October 19th, 2017, including abrasions, stab wounds, and bruising to the face and body areas.”). But he does not allege that the defendants caused those injuries. Mr. Sterling does not allege any injury that he suffered in the July 11, 2018, attack, though his filings suggest that Mr. Jones sustained fatal injuries that day.

         Because Mr. Sterling fails to allege that the defendants' actions caused him any injury, his Eighth Amendment claims are DISMISSED for failure to ...


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