Cape v. St Joseph County Jail
OPINION AND ORDER: This case is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Signed by Judge Robert L Miller, Jr on 9/8/21. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(ksp)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
PAUL MICHAEL CAPE,
CAUSE NO. 3:21-CV-655-RLM-MGG
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY JAIL,
OPINION AND ORDER
Paul Michael Cape, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint. ECF 1. 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. 28 U.S.C. §
1915A. “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).
Mr. Cape alleges that the St. Joseph County Jail has committed theft by
deducting funds from his account for items such as prescription medications,
haircuts, and possibly court costs or restitution. Mr. Cape believes he is exempt from
paying these expenses because the funds in his account were provided by his wife and
weren’t the result of earned income.
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As an initial matter, Mr. Cape can’t sue the facility itself. The jail is a building,
not a suable entity. Smith v. Knox County Jail, 666 F.3d 1037, 1040 (7th Cir. 2012).
Additionally, Mr. Cape isn’t entitled to free medical care. Poole v. Isaacs, 703 F.3d
1024, 1027 (7th Cir. 2012).
Allegations about the loss of funds don’t state a federal claim. The Fourteenth
Amendment provides that state officials shall not “deprive any person of life, liberty,
or property, without due process of law . . ..” A state tort claims act that provides a
method by which a person can seek reimbursement for the negligent loss or
intentional depravation of property meets the requirements of the due process clause
by providing due process of law. Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533 (1984) (“For
intentional, as for negligent deprivations of property by state employees, the state’s
action is not complete until and unless it provides or refuses to provide a suitable post
deprivation remedy.”) Indiana’s tort claims act (Indiana Code § 34-13-3-1 et seq.) and
other laws provide for state judicial review of property losses caused by government
employees, and provide an adequate post deprivation remedy to redress state officials’
accidental or intentional deprivation of a person’s property. See Wynn v. Southward,
251 F.3d 588, 593 (7th Cir. 2001) (“Wynn has an adequate post deprivation remedy
in the Indiana Tort Claims Act, and no more process was due.”).
“The usual standard in civil cases is to allow defective pleadings to be
corrected, especially in early stages, at least where amendment would not be futile,”
Abu-Shawish v. United States, 898 F.3d 726, 738 (7th Cir. 2018), but “courts have
broad discretion to deny leave to amend where . . . the amendment would be futile.”
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Hukic v. Aurora Loan Servs., 588 F.3d 420, 432 (7th Cir. 2009). For the reasons
previously explained, any amendment to this complaint would be futile.
For these reasons, this case is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
SO ORDERED on September 8, 2021
s/ Robert L. Miller, Jr.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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