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Ford v. Rice

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 2, 2017

MICHAEL J. FORD, Plaintiff,
v.
CO RICE and CO WRIGHT, Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER SCREENING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

          NANCY JOSEPH United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing himself, filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983. This matter is before me on plaintiff's motion to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee (Docket # 2) and for screening of his complaint (Docket # 1).

         PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF FILING FEE

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act gives courts discretion to allow prisoners to proceed with their lawsuits without prepaying the $350 filing fee, as long as they comply with certain requirements. 28 U.S.C. §1915. One of those requirements is that the prisoner pay an initial partial filing fee. On January 11, 2017, I ordered plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of $3.14. Plaintiff paid that fee on January 23, 2017. As such, I will grant plaintiff's motion to proceed without prepayment of the full filing fee; he must pay the remainder of the filing fee over time as set forth at the end of this order.

         SCREENING OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

         Federal law requires that I 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). I 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. § 1915A(b).

         To state a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, “that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows a court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         To proceed 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 defendant was 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). I will give a pro se plaintiff's 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)).

         ALLEGATIONS IN THE COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff alleges that on September 22, 2016, he received a memorandum informing him that he was being placed on a “Keep on Person” (KOP) medication restriction as a safety precaution because he had overdosed on his medication earlier that month. The next day, defendant CO Wright distributed medication to plaintiff even though he knew plaintiff was prohibited from possessing the medication because of his previous overdose.

         On October 8, 2016, plaintiff began to feel suicidal. He contacted the sergeant station via his emergency call button and informed the sergeant (who is not named as a defendant) that he was going to take the pills he had been given by staff. Defendant CO Rice approached plaintiff's cell, and, through the cell window, plaintiff showed Rice the twenty pills Wright had given him. According to plaintiff, Rice asked “What are you doing?” and then stood and watched as plaintiff ingested all of the pills.

         Plaintiff was rushed to the hospital where he received treatment. Plaintiff alleges that the medication ate through the lining of his stomach and that, as a result, he has to be on long-term medication.

         ANALYSIS

         To state an Eighth Amendment claim based on deficient medical care, a plaintiff must demonstrate two elements: 1) an objectively serious medical or mental health condition; and 2) an official's deliberate indifference to that condition. Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 750 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing Johnson v. Snyder, 444 F.3d 579, 584 (7th Cir. 2006)). Plaintiff alleges that defendant Wright demonstrated deliberate indifference when he provided him with medication despite knowing that plaintiff had recently overdosed and was prohibited from possessing medication. Plaintiff also alleges that Rice demonstrated deliberate indifference when he failed to ...


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