United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
RONALD E. RICHARDS, Plaintiff,
SGT. MICHAEL GUTHO, KELLY SALINAS, CAPTAIN ANDREW NIELSON, WARDEN ROBERT HUMPHREYS, and, KATHY SCHMIDT, Defendants.
DECISION AND ORDER SCREENING THE PLAINTIFF'S
COMPLAINT (DKT. NO. 1)
PAMELA PEPPER United States District Judge.
plaintiff, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing
himself, filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C.
§1983, alleging that the defendants violated his rights
at the Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution. Dkt. No. 1.
On November 17, 2016, the plaintiff paid the $400.00 civil
case filing fee in full. The case is before the court for
screening of the plaintiff's complaint.
SCREENING OF PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED COMPLAINT
Standard for Screening Complaints
of fee status, the Prison Litigation Reform Act requires
federal courts 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 may dismiss an action, or part of it, if the claims
alleged are “frivolous or malicious, ” fail to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B).
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). The complaint need not plead specific
facts, and need only provide “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)).
“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).
factual content of the complaint must allow the court to
“draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.
Indeed, allegations must “raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. Factual allegations, when accepted as true, must state a
claim that is “plausible on its face.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
courts follow the two step analysis set forth in
Twombly to determine whether a complaint states a
claim. Id. at 679. First, the court determines
whether the plaintiff's legal conclusions are supported
by factual allegations. Id. Legal conclusions not
supported by facts “are not entitled to the assumption
of truth.” Id. Second, the court determines
whether the well-pleaded factual allegations “plausibly
give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id.
The court gives 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)).
Facts Alleged in the Complaint
March 22, 2016, Sergeant Michael Gutho worked second shift on
Unit 12. Dkt. No. 1 at 3-4. At approximately 2:45 p.m., Gutho
sorted mail while the plaintiff was away from his cell.
Id. at 4. The plaintiff states that “when Sgt.
Gutho ran accross [sic] a letter addressed to the plaintiff,
he not only cut the tape that secures the contents in the
envelope, but he read the letter.” Id. The
plaintiff further explains that mailroom staff typically
place a piece of tape across the envelope after they have
already “opened [and] inspected” the mail.
Id. at 3.
reading the letter, Gutho took the letter outside to the
courtyard and told several inmates “exactly what he
read in the plaintiff's letter.” Id. at 4.
Gutho then went to the plaintiff's room and performed a
room search. Id. Gutho left the letter he had read
with several other letters that were already in the
plaintiff's cell from before the search. Id. The
plaintiff believes that Gutho was “trying to conceal
the letter at that point, possibly covering up what he had
done.” Id. at 4-5.
days later, the plaintiff approached Sergeant Schue and
explained what had happened. Id. at 5. As a result
of the conversation with Schue, the plaintiff wrote to
Captain Andrew Nielson and Warden Robert Humphreys, and he
filed an inmate grievance. Id. Kathy Schmidt
responded to the inmate grievance, stating that “the
matter was resolved during the investigation.”
Id. The plaintiff states that “there
wasn't one person that spoke to the plaintiff”
regarding the incident. Id. For relief, the
plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief
“to stop opening outgoing mail to check for art work
such as pictures, cards, etc.” Id. at 6.
Legal Analysis of Alleged Facts
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)). The plaintiff
states that he believes his “rights were ...