United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
BARBARA B. CRABB, DISTRICT JUDGE
Maurice Holt, a prisoner at Green Bay Correctional
Institution, has filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against seven unnamed Lincoln County Jail
correctional officers. Plaintiff alleges that defendants John
Does ##1-5 and Jane Does ##1-2 failed to protect him from a
fellow inmate who beat plaintiff. Plaintiff originally filed
this suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Wisconsin, but Judge J.P. Stadtmueller
transferred the case on the court’s own motion to this
district because “all events giving rise to the
plaintiff’s claims occurred in the Western District of
Wisconsin” and it “appear[ed]” that all of
the yet-to-be-identified defendants are located in this
the case has been transferred, plaintiff has made an initial
partial payment of the filing fee, as required by 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(b)(1), and his complaint is ready for screening
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. After reviewing
plaintiff’s allegations, I am dismissing his complaint
without prejudice for failing to set forth sufficient detail
regarding defendants’ role in the events giving rise to
plaintiff’s injuries and why this group of unnamed
defendants should be held responsible.
complaint contains the following allegations, which for
screening purposes, I must accept as true and read in the
light most favorable to him. Perez v. Fenoglio, 792
F.3d 768, . 774 (7th Cir. 2015).
about April 14, 2016, plaintiff was transferred from the
Green Bay Correctional Institution to the Lincoln County jail
so that he could make a court appearance. After completing
the intake procedure at the jail, plaintiff was placed in
K-Block, where he was approached by prisoner Adam Radek, even
though Radek is subject to a “no contact” order
prohibiting him from coming into contact with plaintiff.
Radek told plaintiff that he wanted to fight him, but before
anything happened, defendant John Doe #1 pulled Radek off of
K-Block and moved him to another part of the jail away from
that day, plaintiff was walking to his cell when one of
Radek’s friends, inmate Matthew White, confronted
plaintiff and told him he was going to “beat
[plaintiff’s] ass since Radek no longer could.”
White followed plaintiff to plaintiff’s cell and
punched him in the face a number of times. Defendants John
Doe #2 and Jane Doe #1 then arrived, separated plaintiff and
White and escorted plaintiff to a different holding cell.
was examined by a prison nurse (whom plaintiff does not
identify as a Doe defendant) and asked to be taken to the
hospital. However, the nurse told plaintiff that he did not
need to go to the hospital. Later that day, a police officer
agreed to take plaintiff to the emergency room where doctors
discovered that plaintiff had broken two bones near his left
dismissing plaintiff’s complaint on the ground that he
fails to satisfy Fed.R.Civ.P. 8's requirement that he
provide defendants fair notice of his claims against them.
First, in the caption of his complaint plaintiff names seven
separate John or Jane Doe defendants, but in the body of his
complaint, he mentions only three of these unnamed
individuals. If plaintiff wants to proceed against a Doe
defendant, he must set forth allegations in his complaint
describing what those individuals did and how their actions
contributed to plaintiff’s injuries. Collins v.
Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 332 (7th Cir. 1998) (“A
plaintiff cannot state a claim against a defendant by
including the defendant’s name in the caption.”).
respect to the Doe defendants discussed in the body of the
complaint, plaintiff does not set forth sufficient
allegations to support a claim that these individuals
violated his constitutional rights. For example,
plaintiff’s only allegation against John Doe #1 is that
he separated plaintiff and Radek after Radek threatened
plaintiff. Similarly, plaintiff’s only allegation
against John Doe #2 and Jane Doe #1 is that they broke up the
fight between plaintiff and White. It is not clear how these
Doe defendants could have violated plaintiff’s rights
by simply preventing Radek from harming plaintiff and
breaking up a fight between plaintiff and White.
I am dismissing plaintiff’s complaint, I will provide
him an opportunity to submit an amended complaint that
provides fair notice of his claims against each defendant.
Before filing an amended complaint, however, plaintiff should
consider whether he can meet the standard under the
Constitution to state a claim against any particular
defendant. In and of itself, the fact that he was beat up is
not a sufficient ground on which to state a claim against the
prison or its personnel. A prison official’s failure to
prevent an assault violates the Constitution only when the
official “knows of and disregards an excessive
risk” that the prisoner might be harmed. Gevas v.
McLaughlin, 798 F.3d 475, 482 (7th Cir. 2015). Thus, to
state a claim against a particular defendant, plaintiff must
allege facts showing that the defendant knew White
posed a risk to plaintiff prior to the two inmates’
fight, but failed to take steps to prevent such a fight from
taking place. In the typical case, a prisoner “proves
actual knowledge of impending harm by showing that he
complained to prison officials about a specific threat to his
safety.” Id. (citing Pope v. Shafer,
86 F.3d 90, 92 (7th Cir. 1996)). If plaintiff did not
complain to prison officials about the threat posed by White,
plaintiff must allege facts showing that each defendant knew
through some other means that White posed a threat.