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Spates v. Sauvey

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

May 30, 2016

SCOTT E. SPATES, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. SAUVEY, Defendant.

         DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS (DKT. NO. 2), DENYING AS PREMATURE THE PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR AN ORDER OBTAINING AFFIDAVITS (DKT. NO. 11), DENYING THE PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL (DKT. NO. 12), AND SCREENING THE PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, a state prisoner who is representing himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that the defendant violated his civil rights. Dkt. No. 1. This order resolves the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 2), denies the plaintiff’s discovery motion as premature (Dkt. No. 11), denies without prejudice the plaintiff’s motion to appoint counsel (Dkt. No. 12), and screens the plaintiff’s complaint (Dkt. No. 1).

         I. MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS

         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 16, 2016, the court ordered the plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of $10.10. Dkt. No. 4. The plaintiff paid that fee on March 21, 2016. Accordingly, the court grants the plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and will allow him 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 a complaint or portion thereof 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).

         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) (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989)). 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) (internal citations omitted).

         To state a cognizable 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.

         To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. §1983, a plaintiff must allege that the defendants: 1) deprived him 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. 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 August 10, 2014, a nurse (not a defendant) transported the plaintiff to health services in a wheelchair after he complained that he could not walk. Dkt. No. 1 at 3. The plaintiff states that, after the defendant “pretended to examine” him, she told him ...


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