United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
MICHAEL L. WINSTON, Plaintiff,
MICHAEL HANNAH, DAMON CAMARATA, and JOHN DOES 1 - 10, Defendants.
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge
plaintiff, who is incarcerated at Columbia 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 $0.77. 28 U.S.C.
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. §
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.
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
“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.
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.
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)).
plaintiff alleges that in April 2016, he was incarcerated in
the Milwaukee County Jail (the “Jail”). (Docket
#1 at 1). He told a social worker at the Jail, Damon Camarata
(“Camarata”), about having suicidal thoughts.
Id. Camarata decided that the plaintiff should be
moved to “special needs, ” which is apparently a
separate area of the Jail apart from the general population.
plaintiff was not moved to the “special needs”
area, but instead taken to an “observation
status” cell. Id. at 2. There, he told Michael
Hannah (“Hannah”), a lieutenant, and the John Doe
defendants, other correctional officers, about his suicidal
thoughts. Id. They did not seek treatment for the
plaintiff, but merely “cursed” him for faking his
mental illness. Id. Further, they gave the plaintiff
a regular mattress containing strings which could be used for
suicide attempts. Id. The officers allegedly
observed the plaintiff attempting suicide by hanging himself
using those strings. Id. They cut the noose off of
the plaintiff's neck and replaced his mattress with a
suicide mat. Id.
later, another inmate then provided the plaintiff with a bed
sheet, as the officers looked on. Id. The officers
asked the plaintiff to give the sheet, but he refused, so
they left his cell laughing. Id. The plaintiff later
attempted to hang himself with the sheet. Id. at 3.
He remembers waking up and being tended to by nurses.
Id. After the second attempted suicide, the
plaintiff was moved to the “special needs” unit.
plaintiff states that the defendants' conduct violated
the United States and Wisconsin constitutions. Id.
However, he identifies no provision of the Wisconsin
constitution which was allegedly violated. As to the United
States constitution, the plaintiff identifies his claim as
“cruel and unusual punishment/deliberate
indifference[.]” Id. at 1. In the context of
attempted suicide, such a claim is made pursuant to the
Eighth Amendment. The Collins case described the
A § 1983 claim based upon a violation of the Eighth
Amendment has both an objective and a subjective element: (1)
the harm that befell the prisoner must be objectively,
sufficiently serious and a substantial risk to his or her
health or safety, and (2) the individual defendants were
deliberately indifferent to the substantial risk to the
prisoner's health and safety. [Matos ex. rel. Matos
v. O'Sullivan, 335 F.3d 553, 556 (7th Cir. 2003)]
(citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832, 114
S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994)). In prison suicide cases,
the objective element is met by virtue of the suicide itself,
as “[i]t goes without saying that ‘suicide is a
serious harm.' ” Sanville v. McCaughtry,
266 F.3d 724, 733 (7th Cir.2001).
Where the harm at issue is a suicide or attempted suicide,
the second, subjective component of an Eighth Amendment claim
requires a dual showing that the defendant: (1) subjectively
knew the prisoner was at substantial risk of committing
suicide and (2) intentionally disregarded the risk.
Matos, 335 F.3d at 557.
Collins v. Seeman, 462 F.3d 757, 760-61 (7th Cir.
2006). The plaintiff's complaint adequately alleges that
he made it known he would attempt suicide, and actually
attempted suicide, and that the defendants did little or
nothing until after the second attempt. The plaintiff states
this claim only against Hannah and the John Does, however. He
fails to state any facts showing liability for Camarata; it
appears that Camarata responded appropriately to his ...