LINTZ et al v. CARTER et al
ORDER DISMISSING AMENDED COMPLAINT AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT - The amended complaint is DISMISSED for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Because Mr. Lintz was previously given an opportunity to amend his complaint, the action is now DISMISSED. The clerk is directed to enter final judgment in accordance with this Order. SEE ORDER. Copy sent to Plaintiff via US Mail. Signed by Judge James Patrick Hanlon on 7/14/2021.(JRB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
ROBERT E. CARTER, JR., et al.
ORDER DISMISSING AMENDED COMPLAINT
AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
Plaintiff Dakota Lintz, an inmate at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, has filed an
amended complaint alleging the violation of his civil rights. Mr. Lintz's original complaint was
previously dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and he was
given an opportunity to file an amended complaint to avoid dismissal of the action. Because the
amended complaint also fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the action is now
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss the amended complaint, or any
portion of the amended 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 amended 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). To survive dismissal,
[the amended] 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); Cesal v. Moats, 851 F.3d 714, 720 (7th Cir. 2017).
Pro se complaints such as that filed by the plaintiff are construed liberally and held to "a less
stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers." Cesal, 851 F.3d at 720.
In his original complaint, Mr. Lintz alleged that the Indiana Department of Correction has
instituted Administrative Policy and Procedure 02-04-102, which provides that inmates held on
disciplinary restrictive status housing for periods exceeding 60 days must be provided with the
same program services and privileges as inmates in administrative restrictive status housing and
protective custody. These programs and services shall include, but are not limited to, educational
services, commissary services, independent studies, library services, self-help, social services,
counseling services, religious guidance, and recreational programs. Mr. Lintz alleges that officials
at his facility have violated this policy by denying inmates, like Mr. Lintz, access to commissary
The Court dismissed the original complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted. The Court noted that a prison's violation of its own policies and procedures does
not create a per se constitutional violation. See dkt. 11, p. 2 (citing Estate of Simpson v. Gorbett,
863 F.3d 740, 746 (7th Cir. 2017)). The Court also ruled that the complaint did not create a
reasonable inference that the defendants' alleged policy violations deprived Mr. Lintz of "the
minimal measure of life's necessities" in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Id. (citing Hudson v.
McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992)). Nor did it create a reasonable inference that this violation
deprived Mr. Lintz of his right to equal protection because it did not allege that he had been
subjected to disparate treatment due to his membership in a protected class. Id., p.3 (citing Brown
v. Budz, 398 F.3d 904, 916 (7th Cir. 2005)).
In his amended complaint, Mr. Lintz states that he was placed in disciplinary restrictive
status housing after he received five or six disciplinary convictions. See dkt. 12, p. 4. However, he
did not receive a total or near-total loss of commissary privileges as a sanction for any of these
convictions. Id. While inmates placed in long-term disciplinary restrictive status housing are
supposed to receive a "reduced list" of available commissary items, Mr. Lintz has essentially lost
access to the commissary list altogether. Thus, Mr. Lintz alleges, his loss of commissary privileges
exceeds the sanctions issued in his disciplinary convictions and amounts to an atypical and
significant hardship in violation of his right to due process.
The Court does not agree. To be sure, prisoners are entitled to limited due process
protections when they are subjected to an atypical and significant hardship, even when the hardship
does not, in and of itself, violate the Constitution or the prisoner's sentence. See Hewitt v. Helms,
459 U.S. 460, 471 (1983); Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 483 (1995); Isby v. Brown, 856 F.3d
508, 524 (7th Cir. 2017). Prison regulations may create an enforceable expectation regarding a
prisoner's conditions of confinement. Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 471. But courts focus on the nature of
the hardship itself, and not whether the prison regulation involves mandatory or discretionary
language, to determine whether a due process right is implicated. Sandin, 515 U.S. at 483.
In Sandin, the Court specifically took issue with previous rulings from lower courts that
found due process implications in day-to-day prison operations, such as access to electrical outlets,
access to specific programming, and access to tray lunches as opposed to sack lunches or loaf diets.
Id. (collecting cases). The Court reasoned that these intrusions infringed on the ability of prison
officials to administer their facilities and squandered scarce judicial resources. Id. at 482. The
Seventh Circuit has interpreted Sandin as requiring limited due process protections when prisoners
are placed in long-term administrative segregation. See Isby, 856 F.3d at525 (collecting cases).
In this instance, Mr. Lintz does not take issue with his placement in long-term segregation.
Nor does he take issue with the full range of expectations created by Administrative Policy and
Procedure 02-04-102. His only complaint is that an already "reduced list" of items available for
purchase through the commissary is not available to him. This is not an "atypical and significant"
hardship implicating his right to due process. Instead, it is akin to the day-to-day prison operations
that Sandin admonished lower courts against intruding upon. The policy's mandatory language
does not transform this ordinary hardship into one demanding due process. Accordingly, the Court
finds that the amended complaint fails to state a due process claim. For the same reasons explained
in the order screening the original complaint, the amended complaint also fails to state an equal
protection claim or an Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim.
The amended complaint is DISMISSED for failure to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted. Because Mr. Lintz was previously given an opportunity to amend his complaint,
the action is now DISMISSED. This dismissal counts as a "strike" for purposes of 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(g). The clerk is directed to enter final judgment in accordance with this Order.
WABASH VALLEY - CF
WABASH VALLEY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - Inmate Mail/Parcels
6908 S. Old US Hwy 41
P.O. Box 1111
CARLISLE, IN 47838
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