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Knight v. Grossman

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 22, 2016

DEWAYNE D. KNIGHT, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. THOMAS W. GROSSMAN, WAUPUN MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, and ST. AGNESIAN HEALTHCARE, Defendants.

DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS (DKT. NO. 2) AND SCREENING PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT

HON. PAMELA PEPPER, United States District Judge.

DeWayne Knight, a state prisoner, filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that his civil rights were violated while he was an inmate at Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI). Dkt. No. 1. The case is before the court on the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 2) and for screening of the plaintiff’s complaint.

I. MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS

The Prison Litigation Reform Act applies to this case because the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed his complaint. 28 U.S.C. §1915. That law allows a court to give an incarcerated plaintiff the ability to proceed with his lawsuit without pre-paying the civil case-filing fee, as long as he meets certain conditions. One of those conditions is a requirement that the plaintiff pay an initial partial filing fee. 28 U.S.C. §1915(b).

Once the plaintiff pays the initial partial filing fee, the court may allow the plaintiff to pay the balance of the $350 filing fee over time through deductions from his prisoner account. Id. On June 19, 2015, the court issued an order requiring the plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of $.97. Dkt. No. 6. The plaintiff paid that fee on June 29, 2015. Accordingly, the court will grant the plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed without pre-paying the filing fee and allow the plaintiff to pay the balance of the $350.00 filing fee over time from his prisoner account, as described at the end of this order.

II. SCREENING OF THE PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT

A. Standard for Screening Complaints

The law requires the court 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 part or all of a complaint if the plaintiff raises 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 complaint alleges that on December 29, 2012, the plaintiff injured his left knee at WCI. Dkt. No. 1 at 7-8. On January 25, 2013, the plaintiff saw Dr. Hennessy (one of the doctors in WCI’s health unit), who made an initial diagnosis of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and referred the plaintiff to defendant Dr. Thomas W. Grossman. Id. at 8.

On February 14, 2013, WCI staff transported the plaintiff to St. Agnesian Health Care - Waupun Memorial Hospital (Hospital) for a consultation with Dr. Grossman. Id. Dr. Grossman examined the plaintiff, and Dr. Grossman and the hospital’s nursing staff performed a series of tests. Id. They did not conduct a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test that day. Id. at 9. Dr. Grossman diagnosed a torn ACL in the plaintiff’s left knee and offered a revision (a procedure which uses graft ...


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