Cape v. LaGrange County Sheriffs Department/County Jail
OPINION AND ORDER: The Court DIRECTS the clerk to place this cause number on a blank Prisoner Complaint (INND Rev. 8/16) and send it to Daniel Cape, GRANTS Daniel Cape until 11/16/17 to file an amended complaint on that form and CAUTIONS Daniel Cap e that if he does not respond by that deadline, this case will be dismissed without further notice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A because the current complaint does not state a claim. Signed by Chief Judge Theresa L Springmann on 10/2/17. (Copy mailed as directed in Order). (nal)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
FORT WAYNE DIVISION
LAGRANGE COUNTY SHERIFFS
CAUSE NO. 1:17-CV-0375 TLS
OPINION AND ORDER
Daniel Cape, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint which was removed from State
Court because it is attempting to raise a federal claim. “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). Nevertheless, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, this 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 Cir. 2006).
Cape alleges the LaGrange County Jail has an inadequate law library. However, there is no
“abstract, freestanding right to a law library [and] an inmate cannot establish relevant actual injury
simply by establishing that his prison’s law library or legal assistance program is subpar in some
theoretical sense.” Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996). Rather, to state a claim for a denial
of access to the courts, a prisoner must demonstrate that “state action hindered his or her efforts to
pursue a nonfrivolous legal claim and that the plaintiff suffered some actual concrete injury.” May
v. Sheahan, 226 F.3d 876, 883 (7th Cir. 2000). However, State actors have no duty to assure that
prisoners can litigate claims effectively once they have been raised in court. The right to access,
goes no further than access.
It must be acknowledged that several statements in Bounds went beyond the right
of access recognized in the earlier cases on which it relied, which was a right to
bring to court a grievance that the inmate wished to present . . .. These statements
appear to suggest that the State must enable the prisoner to discover grievances,
and to litigate effectively once in court. . .. These elaborations upon the right of
access to the courts have no antecedent in our pre-Bounds cases, and we now
Lewis, 518 U.S. at 354. Lewis only requires that an inmate be given access to file a complaint or
appeal. As the Seventh Circuit has explained, “[t]he right of access to the courts protects prisoners
from being shut out of court, it does not exist to enable the prisoner to litigate effectively once in
court.” Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647, 657 (7th Cir. 2007) (en banc) (quotation marks, citations and
Here, Cape has not provided any information about how he was prevented from filing a
case or appeal. Neither has he explained what actual concrete injury he suffered. Therefore, this
complaint does not state a claim. Though it seems unlikely that he suffered injuries which he forgot
to mention in this complaint, he will nevertheless be given the opportunity to file an amended
complaint if he has additional facts to add. See Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014 (7th Cir.
For these reasons, the court:
(1) DIRECTS the clerk to place this cause number on a blank Prisoner Complaint (INND
Rev. 8/16) and send it to Daniel Cape;
(2) GRANTS Daniel Cape until November 16, 2017, to file an amended complaint on that
(3) CAUTIONS Daniel Cape that if he does not respond by that deadline, this case will be
dismissed without further notice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A because the current complaint
does not state a claim.
SO ORDERED on October 2, 2017.
s/ Theresa L. Springmann
CHIEF JUDGE THERESA L. SPRINGMANN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?