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Porter v. Jess

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

December 12, 2016

ANTHONY PORTER, Plaintiff,
v.
CATHY JESS, JAMES SCHWOCHERT, GARY HAMBLIN, DR. DAVID BURNETT, JAMES GREER, and LORI ALSUM, Defendant.

          ORDER

          J.P. Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.

         The plaintiff, who is incarcerated at Waupun Correctional Institution, filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights were violated. (Docket #1). This matter comes before the Court on the plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (Docket #2). The plaintiff has been assessed and paid an initial partial filing fee of $1.68. 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); Gladney v. Pendelton Corr. Facility, 302 F.3d 773, 774 (7th Cir. 2002). 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; Gladney, 302 F.3d at 774. “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 (7th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted); accord Paul v. Marberry, 658 F.3d 702, 705 (7th Cir. 2011).

         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)); see Christopher v. Buss, 384 F.3d 879, 881 (7th Cir. 2004). However, a complaint that offers “labels and conclusions” or a “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); Christopher, 384 F.3d at 881.

         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)).

         The plaintiff alleges that the defendants made or implemented a policy to use correctional officers, rather than licensed medical personnel, to distribute inmate medications. (Docket #1 at 2-3). He claims that the officers fail to timely reorder inmate medications and do not keep an accurate log of the medications they deliver. Id. at 3. The plaintiff contends that the delay in receiving his medications causes him unspecified “physical and psychological pain and suffering.” Id. He seeks money damages and an injunction against using officers to distribute inmate medication in the future. Id. at 4.

         The plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted for a number of reasons. First, he fails to allege any time period for the issue beyond “everyday, all day, ” or the date of any specific instances where he was unable to take his medications because they had not been reordered. Thus, it is impossible for the Court to determine whether his claim is timely under the applicable statutes of limitation.

         Second, he does not allege facts sufficient to hold these defendants liable. An Eighth Amendment claim for inadequate medical care requires proof that “[the [plaintiff] had an objectively serious medical condition; (2) the defendants knew of the condition and were deliberately indifferent to treating [him]; and (3) this indifference caused [him] some injury.” Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 620 (7th Cir. 2010). “With regard to the deliberate indifference prong, ” the Gayton court instructs that

the plaintiff must show that the official acted with the requisite culpable state of mind. This inquiry has two components. The official must have subjective knowledge of the risk to the inmate's health, and the official also must disregard that risk. Evidence that the official acted negligently is insufficient to prove deliberate indifference. Rather, “deliberate indifference” is simply a synonym for intentional or reckless conduct, and that “reckless” describes conduct so dangerous that the deliberate nature of the defendant's actions can be inferred.

Id. The plaintiff fails to allege any facts regarding each defendants' knowledge of the medication issue, their authority to remedy the issue, or any actions they took in that regard.

         The Court will, however, permit the plaintiff to amend his complaint.

         If the plaintiff wants to proceed, he must file an amended complaint curing the deficiencies in the original complaint as described herein. The amended complaint must be filed on or before January 2, 2017. Failure to file an amended complaint within this time period may result in dismissal of this action. The plaintiff is advised that the amended complaint must bear the docket number assigned to this case and must be labeled “Amended Complaint.” The plaintiff is further advised that a successful complaint alleges “the ...


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