United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
TOMMIE L. CARTER, Plaintiff,
TRAVIS P. BRADY, 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 #7). 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 September 20, 2016, he informed Defendant, a
nurse employed at the prison, that he was going to attempt
suicide by cutting himself later that day. (Docket #1 at 1).
Plaintiff does not say what Defendant did or said in
response, but the Court must assume at this stage that
Defendant ignored Plaintiff's suicide threat. See
Id. Later that night, Plaintiff used a razor blade to
cut his neck and arm. Id. at 2. Correctional
officers found him lying unconscious in a pool of his own
blood. Id. Plaintiff was taken to see Defendant in
the Health Services Unit. Id. Defendant allegedly
told Plaintiff that “stupid people like you don't
deserve to be medically treated, because you are only going
to do it again, to seek attention and manipulate the
environment.” Id. Plaintiff says that he
responded by wishing that Defendant's family would die
and by refusing to let Defendant touch him. Id.
thereafter cleaned and bandaged Plaintiff's wounds.
Id. However, Defendant refused Plaintiff's
request to be sent to the hospital for further treatment,
saying that it was not warranted based on Plaintiff's
injuries. Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff alleges that he was
transferred to Waupun Correctional Institution the next day
and that medical staff there determined that he should be
sent to the hospital for his wounds. Id. at 3.
Plaintiff claims that Defendant's decision to ignore the
serious risk that he would attempt suicide violated 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, or
it may be that Plaintiff's version of events is
inaccurate, but given the low bar applied at the screening
stage, the Court finds it appropriate to let this claim
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
September 20, 2016.
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis (Docket #7) be and the
same is hereby GRANTED;
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;
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 ...