United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO FILE AMENDED
COMPLAINT SCREENING AMENDED
COMPLAINT, DISMISSING DEFICIENT
CLAIM, AND ORDERING DEFENDANTS TO
Patrick Hanlon United States District Judge
Swann's motion to file an amended complaint, dkt. ,
is granted to the extent that the amended
complaint was filed within the deadline set by the pre-trial
scheduling order. The clerk is directed to docket the
amended complaint, currently dkt. [22-1], as the
docket entry immediately following this Order.
Swann, an inmate at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility,
brings this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that
prison staff retaliated against him for exercising his First
Amendment rights, violated his right to Equal Protection on
the basis of race, and committed libel under Indiana state
tort law. Because the plaintiff 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
amended complaint before service on the defendants. This
amended complaint will completely replace the original
complaint filed on April 26, 2019. See Beal v.
Beller, 847 F.3d 897, 901 (7th Cir. 2017) (“For
pleading purposes, once an amended complaint is filed, the
original complaint drops out of the picture.”).
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss the
amended complaint, or any portion of 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. 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).
amended complaint is identical to the original complaint in
nearly every respect except that it narrows Mr. Swann's
Indiana tort claim from “defamation of character”
to “libel defamation.” Dkt. 22-1, p. 2. The
amended complaint also requests a “total sum of $150,
000” in damages. Id. at 5. Like the original
complaint, the amended complaint names as defendants
Counselor C. Coakley, Ms. Reeves, and Deputy Warden Kevin
February 19, 2019, Mr. Swann was hired by Coakley to serve as
a wheel chair pusher for inmate Brian Griggs. His housing was
reclassified in order to place him in Griggs' cell, even
though wheel chair pushers are not required to live with the
inmates they are hired to assist. Griggs' medical
condition made it difficult for him to shower and use the
bathroom, which created an unpleasant odor in the cell.
tasks Mr. Swann performed for Griggs went beyond the
requirements of a wheelchair pusher. Mr. Swann had to clean
the floors, walls, and toilet area without gloves or
sanitation chemicals. He made Griggs' bed, prepared his
meals, wrote his letters, and helped him use the bathroom.
Griggs told Mr. Swann that he should be a porter, rather than
a wheelchair pusher, because that is what his doctor had
ordered. Griggs brought this issue to the attention of a
nurse, who promised to email Coakley about reassigning Mr.
Swann to the job of porter.
address the discrepancy between his job classification and
the work he performed for Griggs, Mr. Swann filed an informal
grievance. He complained that “he was having to clean
up . . . urine, make [Griggs'] bed, write his letters
etc.” Reeves responded to this grievance and told Mr.
Swann that she told him he would have to clean when he
accepted the job as a wheelchair pusher. She also told him
that he did not have to write Griggs letters for him if he
did not want to.
his informal grievance was rejected, Mr. Swann filed a formal
grievance. He complained that he was being paid as a
wheelchair pusher but was effectively performing the job of a
porter. He requested that he be given a porter's pay or
be transferred to another cell so he would not have to
perform a porter's duties.
after leaving the chow hall, Mr. Swann spoke to Coakley in
the day room. When he mentioned the nurse's email and
inquired about becoming a porter, she became agitated and
rude. She told him he would never become a porter and that
the only job he was qualified for was wheelchair pusher. If
he brought it up again, she warned, she would make him
“idle no pay.” Mr. Swann told ...