United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
SHANE D. HATTER, Plaintiff,
MARSHALL COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT. et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
R. LEICHTY JUDGE.
D. Hatter, 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 complaint and dismiss
it if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a
claim, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief. “In order to state a claim
under [42 U.S.C.] § 1983 a plaintiff must allege: (1)
that defendants deprived him of a federal constitutional
right; and (2) that the defendants acted under color of state
law.” Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th
complaint. Mr. Hatter alleges that, since his arrival at the
Marshall County Jail in June 2019, Sheriff Hassel and
Sergeant Holcomb have subjected him to overcrowded
conditions, which prevents him from leaving his bed safely
and forces him to sleep near a toilet. They also have forced
him to eat on a toilet or the floor instead of at a table.
Because Mr. Hatter is a pretrial detainee, the court must
assess his claims under the Fourteenth Amendment instead of
the Eighth Amendment. See Mulvania v. Sheriff of Rock
Island Cty., 850 F.3d 849, 856 (7th Cir. 2017).
“[T]he Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause
prohibits holding pretrial detainees in conditions that
amount to punishment.” Id. “A pretrial
condition can amount to punishment in two ways: first, if it
is imposed for the purpose of punishment, or second, if the
condition is not reasonably related to a legitimate goal-if
it is arbitrary or purposeless-a court permissibly may infer
that the purpose of the government action is
punishment.” Id. A pretrial detainee can
“prevail by providing only objective evidence that the
challenged governmental action is not rationally related to a
legitimate governmental objective or that it is excessive in
relation to that purpose.” Kingsley v.
Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2473 (2015). Giving him the
favorable inferences to which he is entitled at this stage of
the proceedings, Mr. Hatter states a plausible Fourteenth
Amendment claim against Sheriff Hassel and Sergeant Holcomb.
Hatter also names the Marshall County Sheriff's
Department as a defendant. To pursue a claim under Section
1983 against a local governmental entity, a plaintiff must
show that his injury was the result of that entity's
official policy or practice. Rice ex rel. Rice v. Corr.
Med. Servs., 675 F.3d 650, 675 (7th Cir. 2012). Because
the complaint suggests that the Sheriff Department maintains
a policy or practice of overcrowding the jail in violation of
the Fourteenth Amendment, Mr. Hatter may also proceed against
Hatter further asserts a claim against Bo Holcomb for
violating his right to procedural due process by failing to
provide him with a fair disciplinary hearing in October 2019,
which resulted in the loss of earned time credit. However,
“a state prisoner's claim for damages is not
cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if a judgment in favor
of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of
his conviction or sentence, unless the prisoner can
demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has previously
been invalidated.” Edwards v. Balisok, 520
U.S. 641, 643 (1997). This rule also extends to claims
challenging the loss of good time credit in prison
disciplinary actions. Id. at 648. Here, Mr. Hatter
alleges that he was found guilty of disciplinary offense and
has not alleged that the finding of guilt has since been
invalidated. Because finding that he was deprived of
procedural due process as alleged would inherently undermine
the validity of his disciplinary hearing, he may not proceed
on this claim against Bo Holcomb.
these reasons, the court:
(1) GRANTS Shane D. Hatter leave to proceed on a Fourteenth
Amendment claim against Sheriff Hassel and Sergeant Holcomb
for money damages for allegedly subjecting him to overcrowded
conditions since July 2019;
(2) GRANTS Shane D. Hatter leave to proceed on a Fourteenth
Amendment claim against the Marshall County Sheriff's
Department for money damages for allegedly maintaining a
policy or practicing of overcrowding at the Marshall County
(3) DISMISSES all other claims;
(4) DIRECTS the clerk and the United States Marshals Service
to issue and serve process on Sheriff Hassel, Sergeant
Holcomb, and the Marshall County's Sheriff's
Department at the Marshall County Jail with a copy of this
order and the complaint (ECF 1) as required by 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(d); and
(5) ORDERS, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2), Sheriff
Hassel, Sergeant Holcomb, and the Marshall County's
Sheriff's Department 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 Shane D. ...