United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
BARBARA B. CRABB District Judge
plaintiff Maurice Holt, a prisoner at the Green Bay
Correctional Institution, brought this lawsuit under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against seven unnamed Lincoln County Jail
correctional officers. In his original complaint, plaintiff
alleged that five John Doe and two Jane Doe defendants failed
to protect him from a violent attack by a fellow inmate. I
screened the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and
dismissed it without prejudice for plaintiff's failure to
provide fair notice of his claims in accordance with
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. Dkt. #11. I also gave plaintiff the
opportunity to file an amended complaint that complies with
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff has filed a
proposed amended complaint, dkt. ##12 and 14, which I will
now evaluate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
amended complaint provides few new details, but plaintiff now
generally alleges that four unnamed county jail officials
violated his rights. First, he alleges that three defendants
exposed him to danger from other inmates in the general jail
population. Second, he alleges that one defendant failed to
provide adequate medical attention for the injury he
sustained after an attack by a fellow inmate.
reviewing and screening the amended complaint, I find that it
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Plaintiff has not put forth sufficient allegations to show
that any of the Doe defendants violated his constitutional
rights. I am therefore dismissing plaintiff's claims and
assessing him a “strike” in accordance with 28
U.S.C. § 1915(g).
amended complaint contains the following allegations, which
at this stage, 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).
April 14, 2016, plaintiff Maurice Holt was transferred from
Green Bay Correctional Institution to the Lincoln County
jail. During the intake process he was questioned by
defendants John Doe #1 and Jane Doe #1, to whom “it was
known” that he was a state prisoner. Plaintiff was
placed into a general population unit of the jail. Once
there, plaintiff was approached by another inmate named Adam
Radak, who wanted to fight him. Radak “was removed,
” but soon after, plaintiff was attacked by another
inmate, Matthew White. Defendants John Doe #2 and Jane Doe #1
broke up the altercation and placed plaintiff in a holding
cell. A nurse, Jane Doe #2, came to look at plaintiff's
eye, which was now “cross eyed.” Plaintiff said
he needed to go to a hospital, but defendant Jane Doe #2 said
he looked fine, she could not feel anything broken and his
“eye could have been crossed before.” An hour
later, an unnamed officer came to take a statement. Plaintiff
asked to be taken to the hospital, and the officer did so. At
the hospital, plaintiff discovered that he had broken bones
in his face around his left eye.
court's prior screening order, I gave plaintiff the
opportunity to file an amended complaint that provided fair
notice of his claims in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, and
otherwise complied with the federal rules. Dkt. #11, at 4-5.
The amended complaint, consisting of a single handwritten
page, sets out the factual allegations described above. It
then summarizes plaintiff's claims as follows: “My
rights were violated by being housed with county inmates and
me being a state prisoner we should not have been housed
together and I would not have been injured, as well as
inadequate medical attention. I was place[d] in harm's
way by Lincoln County Jail.” Am. Cpt., dkt. #14. Thus,
I understand plaintiff to be raising two claims under the
Eighth Amendment: claims against defendants John Doe #1, John
Doe #2 and Jane Doe #1 for failure to protect him from an
assault by a fellow inmate, and a claim against defendant
Jane Doe #2 for failure to provide him adequate medical care.
Both claims are governed by the same general standard:
whether a defendant acted (or failed to act) with
“deliberate indifference, ” meaning that he or
she “kn[ew] of and disregard[ed] an excessive risk to
inmate health or safety.” Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).
informed plaintiff in the court's prior order,
“[i]n and of itself, the fact that he was beat up us
not a sufficient ground on which to state a claim against the
prison or its personnel.” I further explained that if
plaintiff wished to bring claims against particular jail
officials, “he must set forth allegations in his
complaint describing what those individuals did and how their
actions contributed to plaintiff's injuries. . . . 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.” Dkt. #11, at 3-4 (citing Gevas v.
McLaughlin, 798 F.3d 475, 482 (7th Cir. 2015);
Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 332 (7th Cir.
1998)). In many cases, prisoners may demonstrate such
knowledge by alleging that they complained to an official in
advance to warn that they were at risk. But even in such a
case, “a generalized, vague, or stale concern about
one's safety typically will not support an inference that
a prison official had actual knowledge that the prisoner was
in danger, ” whereas “a complaint that identifies
a specific, credible, and imminent risk of serious harm and
identifies the prospective assailant typically will support
an inference that the official to whom the complaint was
communicated had actual knowledge of the risk.”
Gevas, 792 F.3d at 480-81.
respect to the alleged assault and failure-to-protect claims,
the amended complaint provides fewer relevant
details than the original complaint did. Plaintiff does not
allege that any of the defendants knew of a specific risk
that White, Radak or any other inmate at the jail would
attack him. Of one officer (John Doe #2), nothing at all is
known except that he broke up the fight and placed plaintiff
in a separate holding cell away from his assailant. Of the
two others (John Doe #1 and Jane Doe #1) who questioned him
during the jail intake process, plaintiff alleges only that
“it was known” that he was a state prisoner.
However, plaintiff does not explain why his status as a state
prisoner would show that any of the defendants knew of and
disregarded an excessive risk that plaintiff would be harmed
if placed in a general population with county inmates.
Cf. Gevas, 792 F.3d at 482; Dale v. Poston,
548 F.3d 563, 569 (7th Cir. 2008); Brown v. Budz,
398 F.3d 904, 915-16 (7th Cir. 2005); Butera v.
Cottey, 285 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2002). Plaintiff
also does not allege that there was anything defendants could
have done to stop the fight sooner than they did. In the
absence of any such facts or allegations, plaintiff's
purported failure-to-protect claims cannot be sustained, and
I will not allow them to proceed.
claim for “inadequate medical attention” against
the nurse, defendant Jane Doe #2, also falls short, though it
is a closer call. A nurse or other correctional official may
be liable for violating an inmate's Eighth Amendment
rights by acting with “deliberate indifference to
serious medical needs.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976). This standard has two elements:
plaintiff must show that the defendant (1) caused a medical
deprivation that is “objectively, ‘sufficiently
serious, '” and (2) acted with a
“sufficiently culpable state of mind”
constituting “subjective recklessness.” Vance
v. Peters, 97 F.3d 987, 991 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834)).
alleges that as a result of the assault by White he suffered
broken bones around his left eye, which no doubt constitutes
a “serious” medical injury. This presumably would
have been painful, although plaintiff does not say anything
about how much pain he suffered or what he told the nurse who
came to see him, besides “I need to go to the
hospital.” Plaintiff alleges that his eye was now
“cross eyed, ” but states no other facts that
might have made it “obvious” to defendant Jane
Doe #2 that he would face a “substantial risk” of
serious harm without immediate medical attention.
Estate of Cole by Pardue v. Fromm, 94 F.3d 254, 259
(7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S.
at 842). Because plaintiff
says that only an hour later an officer took him to the
hospital where he was properly diagnosed, that one-hour delay
in treatment becomes the key issue.
“significant” delay in receiving medical
treatment may support a claim of deliberate indifference,
“especially where the result is prolonged and
unnecessary pain.” Berry v. Peterman, 604 F.3d
435, 441 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Grieveson v.
Anderson,538 F.3d 763, 779 (7th Cir.2008) (guards could
be liable for delaying treatment of inmate's painful
broken nose for nearly two days); Gutierrez v.
Peters,111 F.3d 1364, 1371-72 & n. 6 (7th Cir.1997)
(collecting cases)). “To show that a delay in providing
treatment is actionable under the Eighth Amendment, a
plaintiff must also provide independent evidence that the
delay exacerbated the injury or unnecessarily prolonged
pain.” Petties v. Carter, 836 F.3d 722, 730-31