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Randall v. Walter Reed U.S. Army Medical Hospital

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

May 30, 2016



          HON. PAMELA PEPPER, United States District Judge.

         The plaintiff was incarcerated at the Winnebago Correctional Center when he filed this pro se complaint alleging that the defendants violated his civil rights. This order resolves the plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and screens the plaintiff’s complaint.


         The Prison Litigation Reform Act applies to this action 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 February 11, 2016, the court issued an order requiring the plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of $29.40. Dkt. No. 4. The court received the initial partial filing fee on February 25, 2016. Although the plaintiff is now out of custody, the court will grant the plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis because he was unable to pay the full filing fee when he filed the case. The plaintiff still must pay the $320.60 balance of the filing fee in full, however. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). The plaintiff must submit payments to the clerk of court, and shall clearly identify the payments by the case name and number.


         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). The court is obliged to give the plaintiff’s pro se allegations, “however inartfully pleaded, ” a liberal construction. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         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 Atl. 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 follow the principles set forth in Twombly. First, they 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.

         B. Facts Alleged in the Proposed Complaint

         According to the plaintiff’s complaint, he was on combat duty in Iraq from March 2004 to sometime later in 2004. Dkt. No. 1 at 2. On August 25, 2005, he was released from active duty. Id. He alleges that he returned from Iraq with ugly, painful sores. Id. at 2-3. The plaintiff alleges that the military and the Veterans Administration failed to acknowledge that he had the sores. Id. at 3.

         The plaintiff alleges that he conducted “endless research online, ” and finally discovered on WebMD, [1] in September 2010, pictures representing the sores he gets. Id. at 3. The plaintiff immediately contacted his local family doctor in Escanaba, Michigan. Id. On October 14, 2010, the doctor conducted a biopsy, and sent the sample to the Leishmania Diagnostics Laboratory at Walter Reed U.S. Army Medical Hospital. Id. On October 19, 2010, the lab confirmed that the plaintiff has a disease called Leishmanasis, which can only be contracted in third world countries (of which the plaintiff alleges that Iraq is one). Id.

         After receiving the news, the plaintiff contacted the lab at Walter Reed and found out that the disease has two stages. Id. The first stage involves sores on the outside of the body, and is treatable. Id. In the second stage, the sores “go internal, ” and there is no cure. Id. at 4. They will begin to shut the plaintiff’s organs down and kill him. Id. The lab informed the plaintiff that the only place to treat this disease ...

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