United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
TOMMIE L. CARTER, Plaintiff,
ANTHONY M. WALKER, Defendant.
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.
filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleging that his civil rights were violated while he was
incarcerated at Racine Correctional Institution. (Docket #1).
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion
to proceed in forma pauperis. (Docket #2). The Court
has waived Plaintiff's initial partial filing fee because
of his inability to pay such a fee. (Docket #8).
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28
U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court is required to screen
complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a
governmental entity or an officer or employee of a
governmental entity. Id. § 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. Id. §
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 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 “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, the
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. Cnty. 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,
alleges that on July 28, 2016, he informed Defendant, a
correctional officer, that he was depressed, felt trapped,
and felt like engaging in self-harm behavior, including
cutting himself. (Docket #1 at 1). Plaintiff was under
“constant observation” at the time, which the
Court takes to mean some kind of mental health observation
status. Id. In response, Defendant told Plaintiff
that he did not believe that Plaintiff had a razor and that
Plaintiff's suicide threat was merely him “crying
wolf.” Id. Sometime thereafter, Plaintiff
attempted to commit suicide by severely cutting his left arm.
Id. He was taken to the hospital and treated.
Id. at 2. Plaintiff asserts that Defendant failed to
take reasonable measures to protect him from self-harm, in
violation of the Eighth Amendment. Id.
allegations suffice at the screening stage to state a claim
for a Defendant's deliberate indifference to his serious
medical need-here, his risk of suicide-in violation of the
Eighth Amendment. To state a claim of deliberate indifference
to a serious medical need, the plaintiff must show: (1) an
objectively serious medical condition; (2) that the
defendants knew of the condition and were deliberately
indifferent in treating it; and (3) this indifference caused
the plaintiff some injury. Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d
610, 620 (7th Cir. 2010). The deliberate indifference inquiry
here, like that applicable to conditions of confinement, 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.” Id.
Even if an official is aware of the risk to the inmate's
health, “he is free from liability if he
‘responded reasonably to the risk, even if the harm
ultimately was not averted.'” Id. (quoting
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 843). Negligence cannot support
a claim of deliberate indifference, nor is medical
malpractice a constitutional violation. Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105-06 (1976); Roe v.
Elyea, 631 F.3d 843, 857 (7th Cir. 2011). Construing
Plaintiff's allegations liberally, the Court finds that
Plaintiff should be permitted to proceed on this claim.
See Estate of Novack ex rel. Turbin v. Cnty. of
Wood, 226 F.3d 525, 529 (7th Cir. 2000) (“In order
to be liable under the Eighth Amendment, a prison official
must be cognizant of the significant likelihood that an
inmate may imminently seek to take his own life and must fail
to take reasonable steps to prevent the inmate from
performing this act.”). It may be that Defendant
responded adequately to Plaintiff's threat of suicide,
but, given the low bar applied at the screening stage, the
Court finds it appropriate to let this claim proceed.
reasons stated above, the Court finds that Plaintiff may
proceed on the following claim: an Eighth Amendment claim of
deliberate indifference to his serious medical need arising
from Plaintiff's threat of suicide and suicide attempt on
July 28, 2016.
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion
for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Docket #2)
be and the same is hereby GRANTED;
IS FURTHER ORDERED that pursuant to an informal
service agreement between the Wisconsin Department of Justice
and this Court, copies of Plaintiff's complaint and this
order will be electronically sent to the Wisconsin Department
of Justice for service on Defendant;
IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to the informal
service agreement between the Wisconsin Department of Justice
and this Court, Defendant shall file a responsive pleading to
the complaint within sixty (60) days of receiving electronic
notice of this order;
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Secretary of the
Wisconsin Department of Corrections or his designee shall
collect from Plaintiff's prison trust account the balance
of the filing fee by collecting monthly payments from
Plaintiff's prison trust account in an amount equal to
20% of the preceding month's income credited to the
prisoner's trust account and forwarding payments to the
Clerk of Court each time the amount in the account exceeds
$10 in ...