United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff Kriss Dobrev has filed a civil action against
several defendants. Dkt. 1. His complaint lists causes of
action, including violations of the Fourth, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendments, but it makes no factual allegations.
Defendants answered Dobrev's complaint and began
discovery. Defendants sent Dobrev a set of interrogatories
asking him to provide the facts concerning each cause of
action. Dobrev's responses, Dkt. 30, are difficult to
follow, but the lawsuit concerns Dobrev's autistic son,
who has been placed in foster care.
now move to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. Dkt. 24. Dobrev's
complaint lacks factual allegations, so there is no question
that it fails to state a claim. In response to
defendants' motion to dismiss, Dkt. 32, Dobrev points to
his interrogatory responses. If his interrogatory responses
provided a short and plain statement of his claim, I might
consider those responses to be a supplement to the complaint
and let the case proceed on that basis. But Dobrev's
interrogatory responses do not inform defendants or the court
what each defendant did to violate his rights.
paid the full filing fee, so I was not required to screen his
complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 before the case
proceeded. But it is clear now that screening the complaint
is necessary, not only to ensure that Dobrev's case is
not dismissed because he does not understand the rules of
civil procedure, but also to spare defendants the effort of
responding to a groundless complaint.
screening any pro se litigant's complaint, I must read
the allegations generously, McGowan v. Hulick, 612
F.3d 636, 640 (7th Cir. 2010), and I accept plaintiff's
well-pleaded allegations as true, Bonte v. U.S. Bank,
N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 463 (7th Cir. 2010). But I will
dismiss any portion that is legally frivolous, malicious,
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or
asks for monetary damages from a defendant who by law cannot
be sued for money damages. 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. “The purpose of Rule 8
is to provide a defendant with fair notice of the claims
against him.” Hahn v. Walsh, 762 F.3d 617, 632
(7th Cir. 2014). Here, Dobrev's complaint alleges only
that defendants committed a number of constitutional and
statutory violations and tortious acts, including
“child endangerment” and “malicious
disregard of family in child's life, ” from
“2007 to the current moment” in Walworth County
and that “they did it maybe because of their polices
and same previous practices or maybe because we could not fit
their standards for a good and fit family.” Dkt. 1, at
2, 3. But Dobrev's complaint does not say what happened
to him (or his son). Nor does it explain how each defendant
acted or failed to act in violation of his rights.
contends that he provided a detailed summary of the facts
supporting his claims in his responses to defendants'
interrogatories, but the “detailed facts” to
which he refers are nine lengthy, confusing documents that
appear to be journal entries listing events, recording
Dobrev's impressions, and quoting communications between
Dobrev, his wife, defendants, and others concerning
Dobrev's son. I have reviewed these documents, but I
still cannot tell what Dobrev believes each defendant did, or
failed to do, that caused him harm.
conclude that Dobrev has failed to properly state a claim
under Rule 8. I will give him one last opportunity to correct
this problem. The questions posed in defendants'
interrogatories provide a good framework for Dobrev to
provide the facts that support his claims. So rather than
asking Dobrev to file an amended complaint, I will require
him to file new responses to defendants' interrogatories.
I will consider these responses a supplement to Dobrev's
complaint. Once those responses are served and filed with the
court, I will screen the responses just as I would an amended
complaint filed by a pro se litigant proceeding in forma
pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
amended responses, Dobrev should explain what each defendant
did or failed to do and how those actions or inactions harmed
him. He should write plain and simple answers to each
interrogatory. Those answers must stand on their own, without
citing to the “detailed facts” attachments
(Exhibits 1-9 of Dkt. 30) that he submitted before.
point, I will warn Dobrev that if he is attempting to protect
his son's rights in this lawsuit, he must be represented
by a lawyer. He may not represent his minor child without
counsel. Tuttle v. Illinois Dep't of Children &
Family Servs., 7 F.3d 238 (7th Cir. 1993)
(“Although a parent has a right to litigate claims on
his own behalf without an attorney, he cannot litigate the
claims of his children unless he obtains counsel.”).
strike the trial date and associated deadlines in this case
and stay discovery pending my screening of Dobrev's new
responses to defendants' interrogatories. I will stay
consideration of plaintiff's motion for subpoenas, Dkt.
18, and defendants' motion to strike plaintiff's
expert witnesses, Dkt. 20. Although defendants' statute
of limitations defense in their motion for partial judgment
on the pleadings, Dkt. 10, appears well-grounded, I will also
stay consideration of that motion because it is premature to
determine whether any of Dobrev's claims are barred by a
statute of limitations when it is not yet clear what viable
claims, if any, Dobrev has. Should plaintiff's responses
survive screening, I will reopen discovery and direct
Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker to conduct a scheduling
conference to set a new trial date and associated deadlines,
at which point the parties may renew their remaining motions.
Defendants' motion to dismiss, Dkt. 24, is GRANTED in