Miltenberger v. Marshall County Sheriffs Department et al
OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A because the amended complaint does not state a claim for which relief can be granted. Signed by Chief Judge Jon E DeGuilio on 7/19/2021. (Copy mailed to pro se party) (lhc)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
CHARLES J. MILTENBERGER, JR.,
CAUSE NO. 3:20-CV-682-JD-MGG
MARSHALL COUNTY SHERIFF’S
DEPARTMENT, et al.,
OPINION AND ORDER
Charles J. Miltenberger, Jr., a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint
alleging he was injured while a pre-trial detainee at the Marshall County Jail. ECF 1.
The court screened the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and found it did not
state a claim for which relief could be granted. ECF 5. Miltenberger was granted leave
to file an amended complaint and he has now done so. ECF 7.
“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 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.
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The amended complaint is not meaningfully different than the original and it
does not state a claim. Miltenberger again alleges Officer Horton improperly shackled
his ankles on March 1, 2019, in a way that made the chain shorter than normal. He then
walked with other inmates to a van escorted by Officer Kraning A.C. where he fell
when he tried to get in. He alleges he was dirty, hurting, bleeding, had a swollen eye,
and had broken his glasses. After he fell, he alleges Officer Kraning A.C. laughed at
him, but then helped him get up and into the van after other inmates suggested he do
so. Officer Kraning A.C. then drove the van to the courthouse with the other inmates
where he helped Miltenberger get out of the van. After the judge sent everyone away
shortly after they arrived, Officer Kraning A.C. helped Miltenberger get back into the
van before driving back to the jail where his scrapes were cleaned, he was given BandAids, and a new uniform. He alleges a nurse told him to contact her if he continued to
have problems. He says he tried to do so, but was ignored by an unknown guard after
he filed a grievance.
A pre-trial detainee cannot be punished without due process of law. Bell v.
Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520 (1979). However, “[i]f a particular condition or restriction of
pretrial detention is reasonably related to a legitimate governmental objective, it does
not, without more, amount to ‘punishment.’” Id. at 539. “In evaluating the
constitutionality of conditions or restrictions of pretrial detention . . . the proper inquiry
is whether those conditions amount to punishment of the detainee.” Id. “[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
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governmental purpose’ or that the actions ‘appear excessive in relation to that
purpose.’” Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 576 U.S. 389, 398 (2015) (quoting Bell). However, for a
pre-trial detainee to establish a claim under the Fourteenth Amendment, “it will not be
enough to show negligence or gross negligence.” Miranda v. Cty. of Lake, 900 F.3d 335,
353 (7th Cir. 2018).
As with the original complaint, there is no indication either Officer Horton or
Officer Kraning A.C. acted with anything more than negligence in connection with
either Miltenberger’s ankle shackles or his fall while climbing into the van. Though
Officer Kraning A.C. laughed when he fell and briefly delayed helping him up, there is
no indication he was injured by either. Neither is there any indication the short time it
took to go to the courthouse before returning to the jail resulted in any exacerbation to
the injuries he suffered when he fell. Though he alleges an unknown officer did not call
the nurse in response to a grievance he later filed, there is no indication either of the
named defendants prevented him from receiving medical treatment once he returned to
the jail. As such, he has not stated a cause of action against either of them.
Miltenberger again sues the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, but he still
does not explain how he believes the Department violated his Fourteenth Amendment
rights. It is clear he does not like the way he was treated, but there is no general
supervisory liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 594 (7th Cir.
2009). “Only persons who cause or participate in the violations are responsible.” George
v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609 (7th Cir. 2007). It is possible to sue a municipal entity such as
a Sheriff’s Department based on a policy, practice, or custom pursuant to Monell v. Dep’t
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of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). However, this complaint alleges
nothing more than a single, unfortunate event followed by a problem with an unknown
officer who did not call a nurse in response to a grievance. The amended complaint
does not state a claim against the Sheriff’s Department.
Miltenberger filed a complaint which did not state a claim, so he was granted
leave to file an amended complaint. See Abu-Shawish v. United States, 898 F.3d 726, 738
(7th Cir. 2018). However, it does not state a claim either.
For these reasons, the court:
(1) DISMISSES this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A because the amended
complaint does not state a claim for which relief can be granted.
SO ORDERED on July 19, 2021
/s/JON E. DEGUILIO
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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