PRITT v. LAYTON et al
ENTRY - Directing Further Proceedings; Plaintiff Steven W. Pritt is a prisoner currently incarcerated at the New Castle Correctional Facility. He brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his constitutional rights were violated whi le he was confined at the Marion County Jail. Applying the screening standard to the factual allegations in the complaint certain claims are dismissed while other claims shall proceed as submitted. The clerk shall terminate all other defendants on the docket. The clerk is designated pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(3) to issue process to defendant Sheriff Matthew in the manner specified by Rule 4(d). The clerk shall terminate all other defendants on the docket. 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 this Entry. Signed by Judge Sarah Evans Barker on 10/11/2017. Copies Mailed(CKM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
STEVEN W. PRITT,
JOHN LAYTON Sheriff; sued in individual
Entry Screening Complaint and Directing Further Proceedings
I. Screening Standard
Plaintiff Steven W. Pritt is a prisoner currently incarcerated at the New Castle
Correctional Facility. He brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his
constitutional rights were violated while he was confined at the Marion County Jail. 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 dismissal,
[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).
II. The Complaint
Pritt alleges that while he was confined at the Marion County Jail, defendant Sheriff
“Matthew” prompted another inmate to throw feces on him and did not allow him to shower. He
also alleges that the feces caused an infestation of cockroaches at the Jail.
He further alleges that he was not permitted to file grievances and that his grievances and
complaints have been ignored. He states generally that this resulted in a risk of harm to him.
III. Discussion of Claims
Applying the screening standard to the factual allegations in the complaint certain claims
are dismissed while other claims shall proceed as submitted.
A. Claims that are dismissed
First, any claim against Sheriff John Layton must be dismissed. Pritt asserts that Layton
maintained an inadequate grievance system and that Layton’s actions generally created an
environment in which Pritt was at risk of harm. But there is no free-standing right to a prison
grievance system. See Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1430-31 (7th Cir. 1996). And Pritt’s
general allegations that the failure of the grievance system caused him unspecified injuries are
insufficient to state a claim that his constitutional rights were violated. See Windy City Metal
Fabricators & Supply, Inc. v. CIT Tech. Fin. Servs., 536 F.3d 663, 668 (7th Cir. 2008) (The
complaint “must actually suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, by providing allegations
that raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”). Finally, there is no allegation that would
raise an inference that Sheriff Layton was personally involved in the specific acts at issue in the
complaint. Matz v. Klotka, 769 F.3d 517, 528 (7th Cir. 2014) (“A damages suit under § 1983
requires that a defendant be personally involved in the alleged constitutional deprivation.”).
Next, any claim against inmate John Doe must be dismissed because “it is pointless to
include [an] anonymous defendant [ ] in federal court; this type of placeholder does not open the
door to relation back under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15, nor can it otherwise help the plaintiff.” Wudtke v.
Davel, 128 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 1997) (internal citations omitted). Bringing suit against
unnamed, or “John Doe,” defendants in federal court is generally disfavored by the Seventh
Circuit. If through discovery, Pritt is able to learn the name of the unknown defendants, he may
seek leave to add a claim against them.
B. Claim that will proceed
Pritt’s claim that defendant Sheriff Matthew allowed another inmate to throw feces on
him, did not allow him to shower, and that this caused a cockroach infestation shall proceed as a
claim that Matthew failed to protect Pritt from injury and subjected him to unconstitutional
conditions of confinement.
This summary of remaining claims includes all of the viable claims identified by the
Court. All other claims have been dismissed. If the plaintiff believes that additional claims were
alleged in the complaint, but not identified by the Court he shall have through November 14,
2017, in which to identify those claims.
IV. Duty to Update Address
The pro se plaintiff shall report any change of address within ten days of any change. The
Court must be able to locate the plaintiff to communicate with him. If the plaintiff fails to keep
the Court informed of his current address, the action may be subject to dismissal for failure to
comply with Court orders and failure to prosecute.
V. Service of Process
The clerk is designated pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(3) to issue process to defendant
Sheriff Matthew in the manner specified by Rule 4(d). The clerk shall terminate all other
defendants on the docket. 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 this Entry.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
New Castle Correctional Facility
1000 Van Nuys Road
NEW CASTLE, IN 47362
Marion County Jail
40 Alabama Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
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