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Hicks v. O'Donnell

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

March 31, 2016

ERIC L. HICKS, Plaintiff,
v.
CINDY O’DONNELL, CHARLES FACKTOR, MICHAEL BAENEN, CAPTAIN LESATZ, CO GLADES, MICHAEL MOHR, Defendants.

DECISION AND ORDER

HON. RUDOLPH T. RANDA U.S. District Judge

On March 8, 2016, Eric L. Hicks, filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his constitutional rights were violated at the Green Bay Correctional Institution. (ECF No. 1). The plaintiff petitioned to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2), and the Court assessed an initial partial filing fee of $19.82 (ECF No. 6). On March 18, 2016, the plaintiff paid the initial filing fee in full. Therefore, his motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.

The Prison Litigation Reform Act requires federal courts 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 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, the 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 (7th Cir. 2014).

COMPLAINT ALLEGATIONS

On October 6, 2013, Captain Lesatz, Correctional Officer Glades, and Correctional Officer Zentzius went to the plaintiff’s cell to transfer him to the segregation unit. They placed the plaintiff in handcuffs and ankle restraints. As the officers escorted the plaintiff down the hall, the other inmates housed in his unit yelled “[s]tay up, bro, ” “I’ll see you later, ” and “[w]rite me when you get a chance.” (ECF No. 1 at 3).

The plaintiff allegedly responded to the other inmates in a “non-threatening manner, ” and without provocation Glades yanked the plaintiff’s right hand upward and slammed him into the wall causing tears in his eyes and excruciating pain. Id. The plaintiff asserts that Glades never gave him an order to stop talking or looking at the other inmates as is typical before applying force under such circumstances.

The plaintiff informed Lesatz that he needed medical attention for his shoulder. Lesatz replied “Negative. Put in a blue slip.” Id. Medical staff examined the plaintiff’s shoulder a few days later and diagnosed an injury to a nerve in his shoulder. The plaintiff asserts that he had a shoulder injury from 2013 that was likely aggravated by the incident. On October 8, 2013, the plaintiff filed a formal complaint through the inmate complaint review system.

Michael Mohr recommended dismissing the complaint. The plaintiff alleges that Mohr intentionally ignored prison rules in an attempt to “help cover up” the illegal use of force. (ECF No. 1 at 4). Complaint examiner Michael Baenen accepted Mohr’s recommendation and dismissed the complaint.

The plaintiff then filed an appeal of the decision. Charles Fracktor recommended dismissing the appeal. The plaintiff alleges that Fracktor also ignored prison rules in an attempt to “help cover up” the illegal use of force. (ECF No. 1 at 4). Deputy Secretary of the Department of Corrections Cindy O’Donnell accepted Facktor’s recommendation and dismissed the appeal.

For relief, the plaintiff seeks: (1) compensatory damages in the amount of $200, 000 from each defendant, (2) punitive damages in the amout of $200, 000 from each defendant, (3) an award of interest and costs incurred by the plaintiff in initiating and ...


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