United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER SCREENING AMENDED COMPLAINT, DISMISSING
DEFICIENT CLAIM, AND DIRECTING ISSUANCE AND SERVICE OF
Patrick Hanlon United States District Judge.
prison inmate Frank D. Rives, Jr. commenced this 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 action on November 8, 2019, alleging five police
officers viciously beat him. Dkt. 2. In forma pauperis status
has been granted. Dkt. 11.
Mr. Rives is a prisoner, his amended complaint is subject to
the screening requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). This
statute directs that the court shall dismiss a complaint or
any claim within a complaint which “(1) is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” Id. To satisfy the
notice-pleading standard of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, a complaint must provide a “short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief, ” which is sufficient to provide
the defendant with “fair notice” of the claim and
its basis. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93
(2007) (per curiam) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) and quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Tamayo v.
Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008) (same).
The Court construes pro se pleadings liberally and holds them
to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers. Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768, 776 (7th
complaint, Mr. Rives names as defendants (1) Sheriff Officer
Johnny Wilson, (2) Sheriff Officer Dennis Boyle, (3) Sheriff
Officer Christopher Myers, (4) Sheriff Officer Mark Luther,
(5) Sheriff Officer John Vahle, and (6) the Marion County
Sheriff Department. Dkt. 2 at 2. He alleges that the
defendant Sheriff Officers viciously beat, kicked, and
stunned him. Id. at 3. He also alleges the Officers
“knocked a hole in the top of [his] head.”
Id. This conduct has caused him continuous
headaches, back pain, and pain in his legs. Id.
the complaint the liberal interpretation required at the
screening stage, these allegations sufficiently state a claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The claims against defendants
Sheriff Officer Johnny Wilson, Sheriff Officer Dennis Boyle,
Sheriff Officer Christopher Myers, Sheriff Officer Mark
Luther, and Sheriff Officer John Vahle shall proceed.
claims against the Marion County Sheriff Department cannot
proceed. Mr. Rives's claims against the Marion County
Sheriff Department are effectively a suit against a
municipality. Oesterlin v. Cook Cty. Sheriff's
Dep't, 781 Fed.Appx. 517, 520 (7th Cir. 2019). Under
section 1983, a municipality cannot be held vicariously
liable for the actions of its agent or employee. Los
Angeles Cty. v. Humphries, 562 U.S. 29, 35-36 (2010)
(explaining Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S.
658 (1978)). Rather, a municipality can be liable only for
its own actions and corresponding harm. Id.
“The critical question under Monell remains this: is
the action about which the plaintiff is complaining one of
the institution itself, or is it merely one untaken by a
subordinate actor?” Glisson v. Ind. Dept. of
Corrections, 849 F.3d 372, 381 (7th Cir. 2017) (en
banc). An action is one of the “institution
itself” when the municipality's “official
policy, widespread custom, or action by an official with
policy-making authority was the ‘moving force'
behind [the] constitutional injury.” Dixon v. Cty.
of Cook, 819 F.3d 343, 348 (7th Cir. 2016) (citing
Monell, 436 U.S. 658; City of Canton v.
Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 379 (1989)).
“stringent” and precise grounds for Monell
liability are required by section 1983. Bd. of Cty.
Comm'rs v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 402-404, 415 (1997);
see Humphries, 562 U.S. at 36. Courts must apply
“rigorous standards of culpability and causation”
to prevent municipal liability from collapsing into
respondeat superior liability, which section 1983 prohibits.
Brown, 520 U.S. at 405, 415.
Mr. Rives does not allege any facts suggesting that the
Officers that attacked him acted pursuant to an official
policy, widespread custom, or that an official with
policy-making authority was the “moving force”
behind the officer's actions. Rather, the complaint only
alleges that the action about which Mr. Rives is complaining
was untaken by a subordinate actor of these institutions
instead of the institutions themselves. Therefore, the claims
against the Marion County Sheriff Department are dismissed
for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. The clerk is directed to this defendant from the
Opportunity to Show Cause
section 1983 claims against Officers Johnny Wilson, Dennis
Boyle, Christopher Myers, Mark Luther, and John Vahle are the
only viable claims the Court has discerned in Mr. Rives's
complaint. If Mr. Rives believes the Court has overlooked any
claims or defendants, or if he believes the complaint should
be allowed to proceed against the ...