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Mottis v. New Lisbon Correctional Institution

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

January 9, 2017



          WILLIAM M. CONLEY District Judge.

         Plaintiff Michael Morris brings this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and seeks leave to proceed under the in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915, on his claims that numerous defendants violated his constitutional rights. Normally, the court would proceed to screen his complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.[1] However, Morris alleges numerous claims against different defendants for unrelated conduct in violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20. For reasons explained in more detail below, this requires that Morris identify which of his claims he wishes to pursue in this case, as well as decide whether he wants to pursue the other claims separately. Alternatively, plaintiff may voluntarily dismiss the other claims without prejudice to his bringing them at another time provided the applicable statute of limitations has not expired. Once Morris has made his selection, the court will screen those claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.


         I. Parties

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (“WSPF”), in Boscobel, Wisconsin, although some of the allegations in his complaint took place while he was incarcerated at the New Lisbon Correctional Institution (“NLCI”). His amended complaint names 31 defendants, who the court will group as NLCI, WSPF and Madison.

         In addition to the institution itself, the NLCI defendants include: Timothy Duoma, the warden; Timothy Thomas, the deputy warden; Ms. Kennedy, the school administrator; Brendon Ingenthron, an inmate complaint examiner (“ICE”); John Doe, an ICE supervisor; and Mr. Davenport and Ms. Weiss, who both work in NLCI's business office. Again in addition to the institution, the WSPF defendants include: Gary Boughton, the warden; Mr. Brown and Ms. Ray, both ICE; Ms. Dickman, Ms. Sutter and Ms. Dressler from WSPF's business office; correctional officers Jane Doe, Harn, A. Mink, J. Strasser and C. Morrison; Lieutenant Shannon Sharpe; Ms. Payne from the warden's office; and Mr. Boardman, an inmate advocate. The Madison defendants include: Mr. Parisi; John or Jane Doe; Cindy O'Donnell; Charles Factor; and A. Boatright.

         II. Overview of Claims

         A. NLCI Claims

         Generally speaking, Morris alleges that the NLCI defendants violated his rights to an education and to due process, and also retaliated against him for attempting to appeal two adverse inmate complaint decisions. When Morris arrived at NLCI, he learned that inmates need to either have a general education diploma (“GED”) or high school equivalency diploma (“HSED”), and he would have to attend classes. Since Morris did not want to do so, he spoke to Ms. Kennedy, who told him that the warden may permit exceptions to the requirement that inmates take classes. After Morris responded that he had a “sex case” and would not have time for classes, Kennedy allegedly told him to hold off asking the warden for an exception and that she would get back to him. When Kennedy did not get back to him, however, Morris filed a complaint against her, which was dismissed after Kennedy told the investigator she never told Morris that there were exceptions to the education requirement.

         Eventually, Morris agreed to take classes, but when he appeared for class he allegedly learned that most of the other students were being paid to attend. Morris then left, received a conduct report and was removed from classes. Morris later filed two inmate complaints, Nos. 2013-22848 and 2013-22849, about these incidents, which were dismissed by Thomas and Ingenthron. Apparently anticipating denial of those complaints, Morris also requested two legal loans so that he could appeal those decisions, as well as file an “imminent danger lawsuit.” However, Morris claims that his loan was delayed by Mr. Davenport, Ms. Weiss, and a John or Jane Doe, which caused him to miss the deadline to file his appeal. By virtue of these actions, Morris claims that these defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to an education and his Due Process Clause right to pursue his inmate complaints.

         Morris also alleges that after these incidents, certain NLCI defendants retaliated against him by transferring him to WSPF. In December of 2013, following his request for the legal loans he needed to appeal his inmate complaint decisions, Morris learned that Ms. Dennison had prepared paperwork for his transfer to WSPF. Initially, after Morris got in trouble for calling Ms. Kennedy a “bitch, ” Morris told his social worker that he was willing to be transferred from NLCI to WSPF. When he learned that the papers had been prepared, however, Morris responded that he changed his mind and did not want to go to WSPF. As a result, he refused to sign the paperwork requesting the transfer. Nevertheless, despite presenting no security risk at NLCI, Morris eventually was transferred, which he now alleges was in retaliation for his inmate complaints.

         B. WSPF Claims

         Morris further alleges that the WSPF defendants violated his First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by (1) mishandling his inmate complaints, (2) an officer twisting his handcuffed hand and pushing him against a cell door, and (3) restricting his use of legal resources.

         1. Inmate Complaints and Conduct Reports

         Morris claims that several WSPF defendants curbed his ability to appeal a case he lost in Juneau County Circuit Court and inmate complaints that had been dismissed while housed at NLCI. Generally, Morris challenges the limitations that DAI Policy #309.51(III)D placed on his ability to pursue appeals. This policy was adopted under Wis.Stat. § 301.328, which provides that legal loans to inmates are limited to $100 annually, but that if an inmate repays part of the loan during the year, he can re-borrow that amount without it counting against the $100 limit. Section 301.328(1m) also states that “No prisoner may receive a litigation loan in any amount until he or she has repaid a prior loan in full or has made arrangements for repayment.”

         Despite the language of the statute, Morris alleges that while at WSPF, DAI Policy #309.51(III)D was invoked to impose a legal loan maximum of $50 annually on any inmate with outstanding loans. As he was denied loans because he carries a legal loan balance, Morris further claims that this policy violated his right to access the courts. In particular, Morris claims that in mid-2014, he was told that he reached his legal loan limit and could not pursue his inmate complaint appeals or a postconviction motion in the Wisconsin state courts. Although many of the allegations with respect to this claim are ...

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