United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge
Christopher Badgett, who is incarcerated at the Green Bay
Correctional Institution, filed a pro se complaint
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights
were violated. This matter comes before the court for
screening Badgett's complaint and on his motions to
proceed in forma pauperis and to appoint counsel.
Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
plaintiff is required to pay the $350.00 statutory filing fee
for this action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). If
a prisoner does not have the money to pay the filing fee, he
can request leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
Badgett has filed a certified copy of his prison trust
account statement for the six-month period immediately
preceding the filing of his complaint, as required under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2), and has been assessed and paid an
initial partial filing fee of $44.68. Badgett's motion to
proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.
Screening of the Complaint
court is required 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 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. §
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); Hutchinson ex rel. Baker v. Spink, 126 F.3d
895, 900 (7th Cir. 1997). 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.
“Malicious, ” although sometimes treated as a
synonym for “frivolous, ” “is more usefully
construed as intended to harass.” Lindell v.
McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107, 1109-10 (7th Cir. 2003)
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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S.
41, 47 (1957)). 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 complaint's
allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (citations omitted).
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, second, “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, 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. Cnty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009)
(citing Kramer v. Vill. of N. 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, 106 (1976)).
asserts that the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment
rights in a number of ways. According to Badgett, his plight
began on January 29, 2016 at the Green Bay Correctional
Institution. Badgett was placed in observation after
notifying officers that he was having suicidal thoughts.
Before giving Badgett a smock, Officers Lunenberg and Steel
sought to search his cell. Rather than fully restrain
Badgett, Officer Lunenberg placed a tether on his right
wrist. Once Officer Lunenberg opened Badgett's cell door,
he grabbed Badgett's left arm and threw his body against
Badgett's, forcing him against the wall. Badgett alleges
Officer Lunenberg bent his arm behind his back causing
excruciating pain and started banging Badgett's head
against the wall. Badgett asserts that Officer Steel grabbed
and bent his right wrist. Officer Lunenberg called for
Sergeant Bouzek to come to Badgett's cell. Badgett claims
Sergeant Bouzek ordered him to stop resisting, even though
Badgett claims he was not. Officer Sanchez also responded to
the call and grabbed and bent Badgett's right wrist. Once
Badgett was placed back in his cell, Captain Sabishm came to
check on him. Badgett claims Captain Sabishm indicated he
would investigate the incident and sent Badgett to receive
asserts that the defendants violated his constitutional
rights by using excessive force against him. The Supreme
Court has held that the core judicial inquiry in an excessive
force case is “whether force was applied in a
good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or
maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.” See
Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6 (1992). Based on
these allegations, Badgett has stated a claim for excessive
force under the Eighth Amendment against Officers Lunenberg,
Steel, and Sanchez as well as Sergeant Bouzek. See Gentry
v. Duckworth, 65 F.3d 555, 561 (7th Cir. 1995)
(explaining that liability may be imposed under § 1983
where an official facilitates, approves, condones, or turns a
blind eye to unconstitutional conduct).
also claims that defendants Lunenberg, Steel, and Sanchez
subjected him to atypical and significant hardship. The
Fourteenth Amendment provides to inmates “a liberty
interest in avoiding transfer to more restrictive prison
conditions if these conditions result in an ‘atypical
and significant hardship' when compared to ‘the
ordinary incidents of prison life.'” Townsend
v. Fuchs, 522 F.3d 765, 768 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484-86 (1995)).
Here, Badgett has alleged no facts that would suggest that
his relatively brief time in observation was accompanied by
atypical and significant hardship beyond the normal incidents
of incarceration. Absent such an allegation, he fails to
state a claim.
further asserts that the defendants' actions constituted
deliberate indifference. To demonstrate deliberate
indifference, Badgett must show “actual knowledge by
the officials and guards of the existence of the substantial
risk and that the officials had considered the possibility
that the risk could cause serious harm.” Washington
v. LaPorte Cnty. Sheriff's Dept., 306 F.3d 515, 518
(7th Cir. 2002) (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 834 (1994)). Ordinary negligence by prison officials,
however, is not enough to demonstrate an Eighth Amendment
violation. Washington, 306 F.3d at 518; see also
Wilson v. City of Chicago, 6 F.3d 1233, 1241 (7th Cir.
1993) (explaining that neither respondeat superior nor
negligent supervision of subordinates is an authorized ground
for liability in a suit under § 1983). Moreover, it is
not enough to show that prison officials ...