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Kuslits v. Achterberg

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 17, 2016

JOHN L. KUSLITS, Plaintiff,


HON. PAMELA PEPPER United States District Judge

John L. Kuslits, a state prisoner, filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that his civil rights were violated while he was in the segregation unit at Stanley Correctional Institution. Dkt. No. 1. The case comes before the court for screening of the plaintiff’s complaint. He paid the full filing fee on September 8, 2015.

A. Standard for Screening Complaints

The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious, " that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

To state a claim under the federal notice pleading system, the plaintiff must provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A plaintiff does not need to plead specific facts, and his statement need only “give the defendant 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)). A complaint, however, that offers “labels and conclusions” or “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). To state a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, “that is plausible on its face.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “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.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The complaint allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).

In considering whether a complaint states a claim, courts follow the principles set forth in Twombly. First, the court must “identify[] pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. A plaintiff must support legal conclusions with factual allegations. Id. Second, if there are well-pleaded factual allegations, courts must “assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id.

To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. §1983, a plaintiff must allege that the defendants: 1) deprived the plaintiff of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and 2) acted under color of state law. Buchanan-Moore v. Cnty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Kramer v. Vill. of N. Fond du Lac, 384 F.3d 856, 861 (7th Cir. 2004)); see also Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). The court is obliged to give the plaintiff’s pro se allegations, “however inartfully pleaded, ” a liberal construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

B. Facts Alleged in the Complaint

The plaintiff alleges that he was housed in the segregation unit at Stanley Correctional Institution from May 1, 2014, to July 28, 2014. Dkt. No. 1 at 3. Beginning around June 15, 2014, the plaintiff’s eyes became irritated, and the condition “grew persistently worse each day until it became unbearable.” Id.

On June 30, 2014, the plaintiff submitted a request to the Health Services Unit (HSU). Id. A nurse treated the plaintiff on July 1, 2014. Id. She gave the plaintiff a small tube of ointment, and directed him to apply the ointment to his eyes four times a day for seven days straight. Id.

The plaintiff submitted another request to the HSU on July 10, 2014, because his eye problems had only gotten worse. Id. By that time, the plaintiff had a build-up of thick, sticky fluid in his eye sockets and was having difficulty seeing. Id. A nurse saw the plaintiff the same day. Id. at 4. She gave him a bottle of baby shampoo and a handful of gauze to use as an eye scrub solution four times a day. Id. She said the pores of his eyelids were plugged. Id. The plaintiff applied the suggested treatment as prescribed from July 12, 2014, to July 17, 2014, but it did nothing to alleviate the plaintiff’s condition. Id. The plaintiff woke up each morning with the same sticky fluid build-up in his eye sockets. Id. He had to begin each day by prying his eyes open after applying warm water and pressure. Id.

The plaintiff sent a new request to the HSU on July 17, 2014, that described his continuing problems with his eyes. Id. He also asked to be scheduled to see the eye doctor. Id.

Also on July 17, 2014, the plaintiff asked to be removed from his cell and escorted to the outside segregation unit recreation area. Id. The officer who removed the plaintiff from his cell asked the plaintiff was what wrong with his eyes, because he noticed the profound redness and irritation and the plaintiff’s obvious discomfort. Id. On the way to the recreation area, the plaintiff told the officer about the problems he had been having with his eyes. Id.

When the plaintiff arrived at the recreation area, he almost immediately began to notice that his eyes felt better and were less irritated. Id. A little while later, the same guard escorted the ...

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