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Boyd v. Leffler

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

April 22, 2016

LT. LEFFELER, et al., Defendants.


LYNN ADELMAN District Judge

Plaintiff, a state prisoner who is representing himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that defendants violated his civil rights. I screened plaintiff’s complaint on February 9, 2016, and alerted him to deficiencies he needed to correct. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on March 14, 2016; however, plaintiff failed to correct the previously identified deficiencies. I gave plaintiff one final opportunity to follow my instructions. On April 13, 2016[1], plaintiff filed a second amended complaint.

Federal law requires that I screen complaints, including amended complaints, brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). I 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 cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, a plaintiff is required to provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). It is not necessary for a plaintiff 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)). However, a complaint 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 a 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 should follow the principles set forth in Twombly by first, “identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations. Id. If there are well-pleaded factual allegations, courts must, second, “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: 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 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)); see also Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). I am obliged to give 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)).

Plaintiff’s Allegations

Plaintiff is suing the following Wisconsin Secure Program Facility staff members: Lt. Leffler, Officer Gallinger, Officer Hunt, Officer Jones, Officer Brown, Sgt. Snodgrass, Sgt. Allen, Nurse Wood, Health Services Unit Manager Waterman, Lt. Cichanowicz, Mark Kartman, Deputy Warden David Williams, Officer Wigel, Cpt. Brown, and Ms. Dickman (a social worker). Plaintiff is also suing Dr. Griffin, an orthopedist at Boscobel Hospital.

Plaintiff alleges that on December 18, 2015, Leffler, Hunt, and Gallinger woke him up. They told him he needed to be transported to a strip cage so that maintenance could change the nightlight. Plaintiff states that he complied, and Hunt and Gallinger applied hand and leg restraints and escorted plaintiff to the strip cage a few doors down from his. Gallinger told plaintiff to kneel down and then “all at once” Gallinger and Hunt applied a “great amount of pressure” to his wrists and hands. According to plaintiff, Gallinger jammed his thumb and fingers into the back plaintiff’s hand while bending his wrist up as if he intended to break plaintiff’s hand and wrist. Plaintiff states that the force applied by Hunt resulted in cuts and swelling around his right hand.

Jones, Brown, Snodgrass, and Allen responded. Plaintiff states that he was not resisting, but these officers “pile[d] up on [him] causing [his] body to slam up against the steel door.” Plaintiff states that the wind was knocked out of him and that he began to have a panic/anxiety attack.

Once plaintiff was secured in the strip cell, Nurse Wood was called. The handcuffs remained on plaintiff, so he states that he could not properly display his injuries to her. Wood told security to give plaintiff an ice pack and ibuprofen, but she did not check his vital signs or offer bandages or ointment for his abrasions. Later (it is unclear from the allegations when), Dr. Griffin and Nurse Waterman sent plaintiff for x-rays to rule out broken bones to his left hand, but they did not order an MRI. Plaintiff states that he was sent to Dr. Riley, an off-site orthopedist. Plaintiff alleges that Riley told him that injuries such as his usually require surgery, but he wasn’t going to order it at that time because the injury might heal on its own. Plaintiff states that neither Waterman nor Griffin have pursued surgery to address his injuries.

Plaintiff states that he was complaining about the pain and requested to go to the hospital (again, it is unclear when), but Leffler ignored him. Leffler also falsely accused plaintiff of making threats to kill staff and their children. Plaintiff was placed on back-of-the-cell “boxtrap” restriction for fifteen days (plaintiff does not explain what this restriction means) without a hearing. Although it is not entirely clear, it appears that Leffler accused plaintiff of making these threats during the December 18 incident. Plaintiff states that the video of the incident shows those involved goofing off and giggling and that it does not appear that they were under any threat.

On January 13, 2016, plaintiff states that he was written up again for making threats to harm Gallinger. Plaintiff states that Kartman had plaintiff pulled out of his cell so that Kartman could stand in front of plaintiff for nearly an hour. Plaintiff states that Kartman did this to provoke plaintiff, but plaintiff did not “take the bait.” Again, plaintiff was placed on back-of-the-cell boxtrap. Plaintiff states that this was done to harass and provoke him.

On January 26, 2016, Cichanowicz heard both conduct reports and found plaintiff guilty of making threats, being disruptive, and disobeying orders. Plaintiff was sentenced to 120 days of disciplinary segregation, thirty days of room confinement, and fifteen days of boxtrap back-of-the-cell restriction. Plaintiff states that there were due process violations because the standard in disciplinary ...

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