WALLACE v. SMITH et al
ENTRY Dismissing Complaint and Directing Further Proceedings - The plaintiff shall have through February 27, 2017, in which to file an amended complaint (See Entry). Copy sent to Plaintiff via US Mail. Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 1/17/2017.(DW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
BRIAN SMITH, HARLEY CRABB,
MARK YOUNG, WILLIAM SPANENBERG
M.D., LINDA VANNATTA,
Case No. 2:16-cv-00462-WTL-DKL
Entry Dismissing Complaint and Directing Further Proceedings
The plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated at Putnamville Correctional Facility
(“Putnamville”). 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).
With the exception of a trip to Kentucky, plaintiff Cecil Wallace has been confined at
Putnamville for most of the time between May 2014 and the present. Mr. Wallace injured his back
and had three surgeries prior to his incarceration. During his incarceration he has been in pain. He
has sought relief from the medical staff at Putnamville but “they offer him minimal to no care
whatsoever.” Dkt. 1 at p. 2. In March 2016, Mr. Wallace was sent to the Louisville Metro
Department of Corrections to be tried on outstanding charges in Louisville, Kentucky. While in
Kentucky, the Judge issued an order stating “Corrections directed to allow tennis shoes to be
accepted into [defendant’s] property if provided by relative prior to transport back to Indiana.”
Dkt. 1-1 at 2. Mr. Wallace states that these shoes were “authorized by Medical Provider.”
Apparently, Mr. Wallace’s relative was able to provide him with Nike Air Max shoes. These shoes
are white with a black Nike swoosh design. Upon his return to Putnamville on July 12, 2016, staff
confiscated his shoes and Mr. Wallace later had them sent out of the facility to a friend or relative.
Mr. Wallace filed a formal grievance and was told that per policy all shoes must be white.
However, other offenders have shoes purchased from commissary that are primarily white with
FILA written in black lettering. Mr. Wallace has named Superintendent Brian Smith, Custody Staff
Supervisor Harley Crabb, Health Services Administrator Mark Young, Dr. William Spanenberg,
M.D., and Offender Grievance Specialist Linda VanNatta as defendants. He seeks money damages
and an injunction allowing him to have his shoes mailed back to the facility.
Mr. Wallace brings his claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To state a claim under § 1983,
a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color
of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). As a preliminary matter, it is unclear if Mr.
Wallace is complaining because he wants his Nike Air Max shoes with the Nike Swoosh on them
or because he is in chronic pain and believes that softer, more supportive shoes of any brand will
alleviate that pain.
If Mr. Wallace is complaining about the confiscation of his Nike Air Max shoes, then this
case must be dismissed for failure to state a claim because there is no right to a particular brand of
shoe in prison and there are obvious reasons for prison officials to prohibit the introduction of
expensive shoes which can be viewed as a status symbol in the prison. In addition, the record
reflects that the shoes were provided to Mr. Wallace from a relative, not from a medical care
If, however, Mr. Wallace is complaining that he suffers severe chronic back pain which
could be relieved at least in part from softer and more supportive shoes, then he may have a claim
for relief. Review of Mr. Wallace’s grievance documents, however, reflects that Mr. Wallace’s
focus is on the return of his Nike Air shoes (which have apparently been mailed to a family
member) and not on getting evaluated for orthopedic shoes. In addition, there is no indication in
the complaint that any of the defendants could be understood to have denied the plaintiff’s request
for orthopedic shoes such that they could be subject to personal liability. See Burks v. Raemisch,
555 F.3d 592, 593-94 (7th Cir. 2009) (“Section 1983 does not establish a system of vicarious
responsibility. Liability depends on each defendant’s knowledge and actions. . . .”).
The plaintiff’s complaint must be dismissed for the reasons set forth above. The dismissal
of the complaint will not lead to the dismissal of the action at present. 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.”). Instead, the plaintiff shall have through February 27, 2017, in which
to file an amended complaint.
In filing an amended complaint, the plaintiff shall conform to the following guidelines: (a)
the amended complaint shall comply with the requirement of Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure that pleadings contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief. . . . ,” which is sufficient to provide the defendant with “fair notice” of
the claim and its basis. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (citing Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) and quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)); (b) the amended
complaint must include a demand for the relief sought; (c) the amended complaint must identify
what legal injury they claim to have suffered and what persons are responsible for each such legal
injury; and (d) the amended complaint must include the case number referenced in the caption of
this Entry. The plaintiff is further notified that “[u]nrelated claims against different defendants
belong in different suits.” George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007).
If an amended complaint if filed it shall be screened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. If no
amended complaint is filed this action shall be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
DOC # 244363
PUTNAMVILLE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
1946 West U.S. Hwy 40
Greencastle, IN 46135
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?