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Pantoja v. Haase

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 2, 2016



Lynn Adelman District Judge

On November 16, 2015, plaintiff, Marcos L. Pantoja, filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated during his arrest. He petitioned to proceed in forma pauperis, and I assessed an initial partial filing fee of $114.28. On December 21, 2015, plaintiff paid the filing fee in full. As a result, Plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis is denied as moot.

Regardless of fee status, the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act requires federal courts to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court may dismiss an action or portion thereof if the claims alleged are “frivolous or malicious, ” fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

To state a claim under the federal notice pleading system, plaintiffs must provide a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint need not plead specific facts, and need only provide "fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). “Labels and conclusions” or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” will not do. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

The factual content of the complaint must allow the court to “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Indeed, allegations must “raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations, when accepted as true, must state a claim that is “plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

Federal courts follow the two step analysis set forth in Twombly to determine whether a complaint states a claim. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. First, the court determines whether the plaintiff’s legal conclusions are supported by factual allegations. Id. Legal conclusions not support by facts “are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. Second, the court determines whether the well-pleaded factual allegations “plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id. Pro se allegations, “however inartfully pleaded, ” are given a liberal construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

In the context of a §1983 claim, plaintiff must allege that: (1) he was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) the deprivation was visited upon him by a person or persons acting under the color of state law. Buchanan-Moore v. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Kramer v. Village of North Fond du Lac, 384 F.3d 856, 861 (7th Cir. 2004)). A suit seeking monetary damages under §1983 must further allege that the defendants were personally involved in the constitutional deprivation. Matz v. Klotka, 769 F.3d 517, 527 (2014).


Plaintiff alleges that on January 21, 2014, defendants Glen Haase and Jason Baranek from the Cudahy Police Department executed a search warrant at 1100 S 1st St. #3 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Upon searching the residence, Haase located 17 grams of heroine, grinders used to break up hard pieces of heroin, packaging materials for resale, and a .32 caliber revolver style handgun. Plaintiff, who was on-scene during the search, was arrested without a warrant and detained for 36 days.

On February 24, 2014, Baranek issued a form titled Probable Cause Statement and Judicial Determination, which is required for warrantless arrests in Wisconsin. The top portion of the document included Baranek’s sworn statement detailing the course of events leading to plaintiff’s warrantless arrest. The bottom portion of the document titled “Probable Cause Determination” was completely blank. The document does not include a “probable cause determination” or the judge’s signature, as required by Wis.Stat. § 970.01.

On February 28, 2014, plaintiff was charged with: (1) possession with intent to deliver heroin in violation of Wis.Stat. §961.41(1m)(d)3, (2) possession of a firearm in violation of § 941.29(2), and (3) felon in possession of a firearm in violation of Wis.Stat. 941.29(2)(a). He appeared in court for his initial appearance on that same day. Plaintiff pled guilty to all three counts on January 26, 2015.

Plaintiff’s first and second claims allege that defendants Haase and Baranek violated his Fourth Amendment rights by detaining him for 36 days without presenting the probable cause statement and judicial determination that is required for warrantless arrests. His third claim alleges that Milwaukee County has an “unwritten policy and custom” of delaying the delivery of the probable cause statement following a warrantless arrest. Finally, his fourth claim alleges that “Haase and Baranek have no absolute or qualified immunity.”

Plaintiff seeks compensation in the amount of $250, 000 for the loss of his liberty during those 36 days. He also seeks an additional $7 million dollars in punitive ...

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