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Doolin v. Lynch

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

December 12, 2019

DWAYNE DOOLIN, Plaintiff,
v.
LYNCH and INDIANA STATE PRISON WARDEN, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JON E. DEGUILIO JUDGE

         Dwayne Doolin, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint alleging Officer Lynch paid an inmate to attack him. He also alleges she is actively inciting other inmates to kill him. A filing by an unrepresented party “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.

         Doolin alleges Officer Lynch gave drugs to a fellow inmate name Huggins. As a result, Huggins assaulted him with urine and feces on November 1, 2019. Huggins also threatened to continue attacking Doolin and stab him to death. Though Officer Lynch is not alleged to have personally struck Doolin, these allegations state a claim of excessive force. The “core requirement” for an excessive force claim is that the defendant “used force not in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, but maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.” Hendrickson v. Cooper , 589 F.3d 887, 890 (7th Cir. 2009) (internal citation omitted). “[T]he question whether the measure taken inflicted unnecessary and wanton pain and suffering ultimately turns on whether force was applied in a good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline or maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm.” Whitley v. Albers , 475 U.S. 312, 320-21 (1986) (quotation marks and citation omitted). Hiring an inmate to kill Doolin would be malicious and sadistic.

         Doolin also alleges Officer Lynch has incited other inmates to kill him by labeling him a snitch. He alleges other inmates have threatened to murder him as a result of her instigation. These allegations also state a claim against Officer Lynch.

         Finally, Doolin asks to be transferred out of Indiana State Prison because of the ongoing threats allegedly posed by other inmates at the instigation of Officer Lynch. Under the Eighth Amendment, prison officials have a constitutional duty to protect inmates from violence. Grieveson v. Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 777 (7th Cir. 2008). However,

The PLRA circumscribes the scope of the court's authority to enter an injunction in the corrections context. Where prison conditions are found to violate federal rights, remedial injunctive relief must be narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right, and use the least intrusive means necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right. This section of the PLRA enforces a point repeatedly made by the Supreme Court in cases challenging prison conditions: Prison officials have broad administrative and discretionary authority over the institutions they manage.

Westefer v. Neal, 682 F.3d 679 (7th Cir. 2012) (quotation marks, brackets, and citations omitted). Therefore if the court were to find that Doolin was not being protected from attack by other inmates as required by the Eighth Amendment, the court could only order that he be provided with protection which meets the requirements of the Eighth Amendment. If it is possible to do that at the Indiana State Prison, a transfer order would not be warranted.

         The Indiana State Prison Warden has both the authority and the responsibility to ensure that Doolin is protected from attack as required by the Eighth Amendment. See Gonzalez v. Feinerman, 663 F.3d 311, 315 (7th Cir. 2011). Therefore, the Warden will be added as a defendant and Doolin will be allowed to proceed on an official capacity claim for permanent injunctive relief.

         For these reasons, the court:

         (1) GRANTS Dwayne Doolin leave to proceed against Officer Lynch in an individual capacity for compensatory and punitive damages for giving drugs to inmate Huggins to pay him to attack Dwayne Doolin on November 1, 2019, and for his ongoing efforts to kill Dwayne Doolin in violation of the Eighth Amendment;

         (2) GRANTS Dwayne Doolin leave to proceed against Officer Lynch in an individual capacity for compensatory and punitive damages for inciting other inmates to kill him by labeling him a snitch sometime on or after November 1, 2019, in violation of the Eighth Amendment;

         (3) DIRECTS the clerk to add the Indiana State Prison Warden as a defendant in an official capacity;

         (4) GRANTS Dwayne Doolin leave to proceed against the Indiana State Prison Warden in an official capacity for permanent injunctive relief to protect him from attack by inmate ...


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