WILSON v. KNIGHT et al
ENTRY discussing complaint and Directing Further Proceedings-The claim against Knight in her individual capacity as a claim that she was deliberately indifferent to a risk of harm to Wilson in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. All other claims against all other defendants are dismissed (See Entry). Signed by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on 7/5/2017.(CBU)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
ERIC J. WILSON,
WENDY KNIGHT Superintendent,
Entry Discussing Complaint and Directing Further Proceedings
Plaintiff Eric Wilson, an inmate at the Correctional Industrial Facility, brings this action
alleging that his rights were violated in a number of ways when he was wrongly classified as a sex
offender. Briefly, Wilson asserts that, in November of 2016, he was wrongly classified as a sex
offender. He alleges that this classification has violated his First Amendment right to free speech
and peaceful assemblage, his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, and his Eighth
Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment. For the following reasons, certain
of Wilson’s claims are dismissed while one of his claims shall proceed.
The Screening Requirement
Because Wilson is a “prisoner” as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h), the complaint is subject
to the screening requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Pursuant to this statute, “[a] complaint is
subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim if the allegations, taken as true, show that plaintiff
is not entitled to relief.” Jones v. Bock, 127 S. Ct. 910, 921 (2007). To survive a motion to dismiss,
the complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face. . . . A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quotations omitted). Pro se
complaints such as that filed by Wilson, are construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94; Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517
F.3d 489, 491 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008).
Claims that Are Dismissed
Wilson’s First Amendment claims are dismissed. Wilson alleges that the asserted wrongful
classification as a sex offender violated his right to free speech and peaceful assemblage. But the
Court can discern no connection between the classification and either his speech or assembly
rights. To the extent Wilson can be understood to have raised a claim that the defendants,
particularly defendant Martin, retaliated against him in changing his classification, he has failed to
state a claim for retaliation. To prevail on a First Amendment retaliation claim, a plaintiff must
show that “(1) he engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment; (2) he suffered a
deprivation that would likely deter First Amendment activity in the future; and (3) the First
Amendment activity was ‘at least a motivating factor’ in the Defendants’ decision to take the
retaliatory action.” Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009); see Mays v. Springborn,
719 F.3d 631, 635 (7th Cir. 2013). Wilson alleges that defendant Martin acted based upon her
negative opinion of him, but there is no allegation that any of the defendants acted upon Wilson’s
classification because of any protected First Amendment Activity on Wilson’s part.
Wilson’s Fourteenth Amendment due process claims must also be dismissed. The due
process clause is triggered when the government deprives an individual of life, property or liberty.
See Kentucky Department of Corrections v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 459-60 (1989). Decisions
and actions by prison authorities which do not deprive an inmate of a protected liberty interest may
be made for any reason or for no reason. Montgomery v. Anderson, 262 F.3d 641, 644 (7th Cir.
2001)(when no recognized liberty or property interest has been taken, the confining authority “is
free to use any procedures it chooses, or no procedures at all”). Wilson does not allege that the
change in his classification affected his liberty interest. He therefore has failed to state a claim for
a due process violation. Lucien v. DeTella, 141 F.3d 773, 774 (7th Cir. 1998) (“Classifications of
inmates implicate neither liberty nor property interests . . . .”) (citing Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S.
472, 484 (1995)).
Any claim asserted pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985 is dismissed. The conspiracy claim adds
nothing and is dismissed because all of the defendants “are state actors, and thus amenable to suit
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, by virtue of their offices.” Logan v. Wilkins, 644 F.3d 577, 583 (7th Cir.
2011) (citing Hoskins v. Poelstra, 320 F.3d 761, 764 (7th Cir. 2003).
The Claim that Will Proceed
Wilson also claims that defendant Knight was deliberately indifferent to a serious risk of
harm to him based on his classification as a sex offender. Wilson asserts that he approached Knight
with his concerns regarding his sex offender classification and that she discussed this subject with
him within earshot of other inmates despite Wilson’s request that the conversation be kept private.
As a result, according to Wilson, rumors began to circulate that Wilson was a sex offender and he
was ultimately assaulted because of these rumors. This claim shall proceed against Knight in her
individual capacity as a claim that she was deliberately indifferent to a risk of harm to Wilson in
violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. Any claim against Knight in her official capacity is
dismissed. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-67 and n.14 (1985) (suit for damages
against state officer in official capacity is barred by the Eleventh Amendment).
In summary, the claim that defendant Knight was deliberately indifferent to a risk of harm
to Wilson in shall proceed against Knight in her individual capacity as a claim that she violated
Wilson’s Eighth Amendment rights. All other claims against all other defendants are dismissed.
If Wilson believes he has raised a claim in his complaint that is not addressed in this Entry, he
shall have through August 7, 2017, to notify the Court.
The clerk is designated pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(3) to issue process to Knight in the
manner specified by Rule 4(d). Process shall consist of the complaint, applicable forms (Notice of
Lawsuit and Request for Waiver of Service of Summons and Waiver of Service of Summons), and
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Eric J. Wilson
Correctional Industrial Facility
Electronic Service Participant – Court Only
Electronic Service to the Following Employee of the Correctional Industrial Facility
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