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Lindsey v. Runice

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

May 5, 2016

CARLOS D. LINDSEY, Plaintiff,
v.
CO LUCAS RUNICE, SGT. OVERBO, TIMOTHY HAINES, and JEROME SWEANEY, Defendants.

SCREENING ORDER

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

The pro se plaintiff, a Wisconsin state prisoner, filed a complaint alleging that the defendants violated his civil rights. This matter comes before the court on the plaintiff’s petition to proceed in forma pauperis. The prisoner lacks the funds to pay an initial partial filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4).

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).

A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Hutchinson ex rel. Baker v. Spink, 126 F.3d 895, 900 (7th Cir. 1997). The Court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327.

“Malicious, ” although sometimes treated as a synonym for “frivolous, ” “is more usefully construed as intended to harass.” Lindell v. McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107, 1109-10 (7th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).

To state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, the 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 the 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 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 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, the court 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). 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)).

Complaint Allegations

The plaintiff is incarcerated at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (WSPF). The defendants are: Correctional Officer Lucas Runice; Sergeant Overbo; Waupun Correctional Institution Warden Timothy Haines; and Security Director Jerome Sweeney.

The plaintiff alleges that on June 11, 2013, he informed Sergeant Overbo that he had several pills and was about to overdose on the pills. Several minutes later, Officer Runice approached the plaintiff’s cell and demanded to see the pills. The plaintiff showed Officer Runice the pills. Then the plaintiff took the pills while Runice watched. The plaintiff had to be rushed to a local hospital for medical care.

Officer Runice issued the plaintiff a conduct report, charging him with Disobeying Orders, Attempted Battery, and Misuse of Prescription Medication. Defendant Sweeney approved the conduct report. The plaintiff was found guilty of the charges and received a penalty of 360 days disciplinary segregation and restitution of $1, 923.29 for the hospital charges. Warden Haines approved the penalty.

The plaintiff claims that defendants Runice and Overbo failed to take the necessary steps to prevent him from overdosing, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. He also claims that defendants Haines and Sweeney violated his Eighth Amendment rights because they failed to properly train prison officials on how to respond to an inmate who is displaying suicidal behavior. The plaintiff also claims that defendant Hines issued him the conduct report, and that defendant Sweeney approved the conduct ...


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