Newman v. Grzegorek et al
OPINION AND ORDER: GRANTS Daniel Boone Newman leave to proceed on a claim against Sheriff Michael D. Grzegorek as outlined in the order, DISMISSES Julie Lawson, Andrew Kostielney, Deborah Fleming, and Dave Thomas, DISMISSES all other claims, DIRECT S the clerk and the United States Marshals Service to issue and serve process on Sheriff Michael D. G Gzegorek at the St. Joseph County Jail with a copy of this order and the complaint ECF 1 as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d), and ORDERS, purs uant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2), that Sheriff Michael D. Grzegorek respond, as provided for in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and N.D. Ind. L.R. 10.1, only to the claims for which Daniel Boone Newman has been granted leave to proceed in this screening order. Signed by Judge Jon E DeGuilio on 1/9/18. (Copy mailed to pro se party and USM). (nal)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
DANIEL BOONE NEWMAN,
MICHAEL D. GRZEGOREK, et al.,
CAUSE NO. 3:17-CV-691-JD-MGG
OPINION AND ORDER
Daniel Boone Newman, a prisoner without a lawyer, has 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). 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, 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).
Newman alleges that he is housed as a pretrial detainee in the medical wing at the St. Joseph
County Jail, where he is locked in his cell for 23 hours per day. He alleges that the same
correctional staff members review grievances at each level of review and that Sheriff Grzegorek
and Warden Lawson have never reviewed his grievances. In the grievances attached to his
complaint,1 he alleges that he is not permitted to attend church services or bible study. Citing his
The grievances attached to the complaint are “a part of the pleading for all purposes.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c).
experience in the food service industry, he also complains that he is often served cold food and
that the food service employees place their personal drinks on the food cart. Newman also
complains that he does not receive enough paper for his criminal and civil cases or sufficient access
to the law library. He seeks money damages and injunctive relief to correct these conditions.
Notably, Newman challenges the policies and practices of the St. Joseph County Jail rather
than the personal conduct of the individual defendants. To pursue a claim under Section 1983
against a local government unit, a plaintiff must show that his injury was the result of that unit’s
official policy or custom. Rice ex rel. Rice v. Corr. Med. Servs., 675 F.3d 650, 675 (7th Cir. 2012).
The sheriff’s department operates the county jail, which is not itself a suable entity. See Smith v.
Knox County Jail, 666 F.3d 1037, 1040 (7th Cir. 2012). “Furthermore, sheriff’s department acts
independently of a county board of commissioners.” Argandona v. Lake Cty. Sheriff’s Dep’t, 2007
WL 518799, at *3 (N.D. Ind. 2007) (citing Donahue v. St. Joseph Cty. ex rel. Bd. of Comm’rs of
St. Joseph Cty., 720 N.E.2d 1236, 1241 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999)). Also, “§ 1983 suits against sheriffs
in their official capacities are in reality suits against the county sheriff’s department.” Franklin v.
Zaruba, 150 F.3d 682, 686 (7th Cir. 1998). Accordingly, Sheriff Grzegorek in his official capacity
is the sole proper defendant. County Commissioners Andrew Kostielney, Deborah Fleming, and
Dave Thomas, and Warden Lawson are dismissed.
Newman alleges that Sheriff Grzegorek maintained policies and practices that resulted in
violations of the Fourteenth Amendment by keeping him locked in a cell for 23 hours per day and
by failing to train food service employees. Newman’s constitutional rights “as a pretrial detainee
are derived from the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Burton v. Downey, 805
F.3d 776, 784 (7th Cir. 2015). “[T]he proper question to guide determination of the legality of
conditions of confinement in pretrial detention pursuant to the Due Process Clause is whether those
conditions amount to punishment of the detainee.” Davis v. Wessel, 792 F.3d 793, 800 (7th Cir.
2015). “[I]n the absence of an expressed intent to punish, a pretrial detainee can nevertheless
prevail by showing that the actions are not rationally related to a legitimate nonpunitive
governmental purpose or that the actions appear excessive in relation to that purpose.” Id. The
conditions described by Newman may amount to punishment in violation of the Fourteenth
Amendment. He may thus proceed on this claim.
Newman alleges that the policies and practices with respect to the grievances process
violate his Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process. However, “[a]n inmate has no
Constitutional right to file grievances at the institution in which he is confined.” Perales v. Bowlin,
644 F. Supp. 2d 1090, 1101 (N.D. Ind. 2009); Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1430 (7th Cir.
1996). Because a faulty grievance procedure does not violate the Constitution, this claim is
Newman alleges that the policies and practices with respect to writing materials and access
to the law library violated his right of access to the courts. Prisoners are entitled to meaningful
access to the courts. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 824 (1977). The right of access to the courts
is the right of an individual, whether free or incarcerated, to obtain access to the courts without
undue interference. Snyder v. Nolen, 380 F.3d 279, 291 (7th Cir. 2004). The right of individuals to
pursue legal redress for claims that have a reasonable basis in law or fact is protected by the First
Amendment right to petition and the Fourteenth Amendment right to substantive due process. Id.
(citations omitted). Denial of access to the courts must be intentional; “simple negligence will not
support a claim that an official has denied an individual of access to the courts.” Id. at 291 n.11
(citing Kincaid v. Vail, 969 F.2d 594, 602 (7th Cir. 1992)).
To establish a violation of the right to access the courts, an inmate must show that
unjustified acts or conditions (by defendants acting under color of law) hindered the inmate’s
efforts to pursue a non-frivolous legal claim, Nance v. Vieregge, 147 F.3d 591, 590 (7th Cir. 1998),
and that actual injury (or harm) resulted. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996) (holding that
Bounds did not eliminate the actual injury requirement as a constitutional prerequisite to a prisoner
asserting lack of access to the courts); see also Pattern Civil Jury Instructions of the Seventh
Circuit, 8.02 (rev. 2017). In other words, “the mere denial of access to a prison law library or to
other legal materials is not itself a violation of a prisoner’s rights; his right is to access the courts,”
and only if the defendants’ conduct prejudices a potentially meritorious legal claim has the right
been infringed. Marshall v. Knight, 445 F.3d 965, 968 (7th Cir. 2006). Thus, to state a claim,
Newman must “spell out, in minimal detail” the connection between the denial of access to legal
materials and the resulting prejudice to a potentially meritorious legal claim. Id. Although Newman
references several criminal and civil cases in his grievances, he does not explain how the limited
access to writing materials and to the law library prejudiced his claims in those cases. Therefore,
this claim is dismissed.
Newman alleges that the jail policy preventing him from attending church services and
bible study violates his right to practice his religion. “[T]he protections of the Free Exercise Clause
pertain if the law at issue discriminates against some or all religious beliefs or regulates or prohibits
conduct because it is undertaken for religious reasons.” Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v.
City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 532, (1993). To establish a Free Exercise Clause violation, an
inmate must establish that the government imposed a substantial burden on his ability to practice
his religion. Kaufman v. McCaughtry, 419 F.3d 678, 682 (7th Cir. 2005). The court then considers
whether “legitimate penological interests outweigh the prisoner’s religious interests.” Id. “Several
factors are relevant in reaching a determination, such as whether there is a connection between the
regulation and a valid and neutral government interest; whether there are alternative means of
exercising the constitutional right; and the impact that accommodation of the asserted right will
have on guards, inmates, and the allocation of prison resources.” Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541,
548 (7th Cir. 2009). Though correctional staff may have prevented Newman from attending
religious services for legitimate reasons, the complaint suggests that Newman’s ability to practice
his religion was substantially burdened. Newman thus adequately states a claim against Sheriff
Grzegorek for preventing him from attending church services and bible study in violation of Free
Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
For these reasons, the court:
(1) GRANTS Daniel Boone Newman leave to proceed on a claim against Sheriff Michael
D. Grzegorek in his official capacity for money damages for the jail policy or practice of keeping
Newman in his cell for 23 hours per day and failing to train food service employees in violation
of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
(2) GRANTS Daniel Boone Newman leave to proceed on a claim against Sheriff Michael
D. Grzegorek on an injunctive relief claim on the time he must spend in cell and food service
practices as required by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
(3) GRANTS Daniel Boone Newman leave to proceed on a claim against Sheriff Michael
D. Grzegorek in his official capacity for money damages for the jail policy or practice preventing
Newman from attending church services and bible study in violation of the Free Exercise Clause
of the First Amendment;
(4) GRANTS Daniel Boone Newman leave to proceed against Sheriff Michael D.
Grzegorek on an injunctive relief claim to be allowed to attend church services and bible study as
required by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment;
(5) DISMISSES Julie Lawson, Andrew Kostielney, Deborah Fleming, and Dave Thomas;
(6) DISMISSES all other claims;
(7) DIRECTS the clerk and the United States Marshals Service to issue and serve process
on Sheriff Michael D. Grzegorek at the St. Joseph County Jail with a copy of this order and the
complaint (ECF 1) as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d); and
(8) ORDERS, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2), that Sheriff Michael D. Grzegorek
respond, as provided for in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and N.D. Ind. L.R. 10.1, only to
the claims for which Daniel Boone Newman has been granted leave to proceed in this screening
ENTERED: January 9, 2018
/s/ JON E. DEGUILIO_____
United States District Court
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