OWENS v. PENDLETON CORR. FAC. et al
Entry Dismissing Complaint and Directing Further Proceedings - The plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed for each of the reasons set forth above. The plaintiff shall have through September 29, 2017, in which to show cause why Judgment consistent with this Entry should not issue. Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 9/7/2017. (JDC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
PENDLETON CORR. FAC.,
INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF
Entry Dismissing Complaint and Directing Further Proceedings
The plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated at Pendleton Correctional Facility
(“Pendleton”). Because the plaintiff is a “prisoner” as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h), this Court
has an obligation under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) to screen his complaint before service on the
defendants. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss the complaint if it is
frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant
who is immune from such relief. In determining whether the complaint states a claim, the Court
applies the same standard as when addressing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). See Lagerstrom v. Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive
[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a
claim for 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Pro se complaints such as that filed by the plaintiff
are construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers. Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 491 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008).
The plaintiff brings this action against Pendleton Correctional Facility and the Indiana
Department of Correction. He alleges that certain papers—which appear to have contained
addresses, e-mail addresses, and names that would have aided the plaintiff in starting a business—
were confiscated from him by correctional officers and not returned. He seeks money damages
for the loss of those papers.
The plaintiff’s claim must be dismissed for two independent reasons. First, neither
defendant is a suable entity under § 1983. Moreover, a suit against a state agency is treated as a
suit against the state itself for Eleventh Amendment purposes, and the Eleventh Amendment
immunizes an unconsenting state from suits for damages in federal court. See Smith v. Utah Valley
Univ., 619 Fed. Appx. 559, 560 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman,
465 U.S. 89, 98 (1984)).
Second, even if the plaintiff named suable entities, he does not have a viable due process
claim for the destruction of his property because there is a process available for the plaintiff to
recover—namely, the Indiana state. As explained by the Seventh Circuit, “[the state] maintains a
system of courts that can provide compensation for torts, and the opportunity to recover damages
for a rogue guard’s wrongful conduct supplies all of the process that is due—whether the
deprivation was negligent or intentional.” Nance v. Vieregge, 147 F.3d 589, 591 (7th Cir. 1998)
(citations omitted); see Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 541 (1981); see also Watkins v. Kasper,
599 F.3d 791, 798 (7th Cir. 2010) (“To the extent that [the plaintiff] relies on the destruction of
his personal legal materials, his complaint is better characterized as a deprivation of property claim,
for which he may seek relief at state law.”); Wilson v. Civil Town of Clayton, Indiana, 839 F.2d
375, 383 (7th Cir. 1988) (holding that Indiana Tort Claims Act provides prisoners with adequate
post-deprivation remedies for lost property).
The plaintiff’s complaint must be dismissed for each of the reasons set forth above. The
plaintiff shall have through September 29, 2017, in which to show cause why Judgment
consistent with this Entry should not issue. See Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014,
1022 (7th Cir. 2013) (“Without at least an opportunity to amend or to respond to an order to show
cause, an IFP applicant’s case could be tossed out of court without giving the applicant any timely
notice or opportunity to be heard to clarify, contest, or simply request leave to amend.”).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
PENDLETON - CF
PENDLETON CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
Electronic Service Participant – Court Only
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
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