United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
TOMMIE L. CARTER, Plaintiff,
ANTONIO CUMMINGS, ROBERT PICKLE and JAY VAN LANEN, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
BARBARA B. CRABB District Judge
prisoner Tommie Carter is proceeding on two claims: (1)
defendants Antonio Cummings and Robert Pickle (both
correctional officers) were aware of a substantial risk that
plaintiff would seriously harm himself on October 17, 2013,
but they consciously failed to take reasonable measures to
prevent the harm, in violation of the Eighth Amendment; and
(2) defendant Jay Van Lanen (also a correctional officer)
refused to take pictures of plaintiff's injuries on
October 17, 2013, in order to prevent plaintiff from proving
his claim, in violation of plaintiff's right to have
access to the courts.
motions are before the court: (1) plaintiff's motion for
sanctions, dkt. #86; (2) defendants' motion for
sanctions, dkt. #92; (3) plaintiff's motion to withdraw
his motion for sanctions, dkt. #95; (4) defendants'
motion for summary judgment, dkt. #97; and (5)
plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, dkt. #110.
plaintiff has withdrawn his motion for sanctions, I need not
consider that motion. I am denying defendants' request to
dismiss this case as a sanction, but I agree with defendants
that it should have been clear to plaintiff when he filed his
own sanctions motion that the motion was improper.
Accordingly, I am requiring plaintiff to reimburse defendants
for the reasonable expenses they incurred in responding to
his sanctions motion before he withdrew it.
respect to the parties' motions for summary judgment, I
conclude that there are genuine issues of material fact
requiring a trial on plaintiff's claim against Cummings
and Pickle. I am dismissing plaintiff's claim against
defendant Van Lanen without prejudice because that claim is
motion the court received on October 17, 2016, plaintiff
asked for “sanctions” and an
“investigation” regarding an alleged failure of
prison staff members to prevent plaintiff from harming
himself in September 2016. Dkt. #87. None of the staff
members discussed in the motion were parties to this case.
response, defendants argued that the motion should be denied
because plaintiff's allegations are outside the scope of
his claims and because the allegations are false. Dkt.#92. In
addition, defendants filed their own motions for sanctions,
asking the court to dismiss the case for the same reasons.
Id. Because this court has sanctioned plaintiff in
the past for making false allegations, defendants asked for
an even more severe sanction, a general filing bar on future
then moved to withdraw his own motion for sanctions. Dkt.
#95. He said that he brought his sanctions motion “in
good faith” and that he did not realize at the time he
filed it that he could not obtain sanctions for conduct that
was outside the scope of his claims. He asked that
defendants' motion for sanctions be denied as moot.
did not oppose plaintiff's motion to withdraw, but they
did not withdraw their own sanctions motion. Instead, they
argued that plaintiff's original motion showed his
“disregard for the litigation process” and still
required a sanction. Dkt. #96.
arguments have some force. Plaintiff lacks credibility when
he says that he was unaware until defendants filed their
motion for sanctions that it was inappropriate for him to
seek sanctions against individuals who are not parties and
about conduct that is outside the scope of the case. In the
August 17, 2016 order in this case (only two months before
plaintiff filed his motion for sanctions), I informed
plaintiff multiple times that he cannot raise issues outside
the scope of his complaint. Dkt. #72 at 5-6 (“Plaintiff
seeks a preliminary injunction to stop prison officials from
transferring him to different prisons within the state.
However, neither of plaintiff's pending lawsuits in this
court is related to his placement at a particular prison and
he does not allege that any of the defendants are responsible
for transfer decisions, so this issue is outside the scope of
this lawsuit.”); id. at 7 (“[T]his
motion raises issues that are outside the scope of these
cases and is about officials who are not party to this case.
If plaintiff believes that his cell conditions are
unconstitutional, he will have to file a separate
lawsuit.”); id. at 10 (“Although the
allegations are disturbing, they are outside the scope of
this lawsuit, like so many of the other motions plaintiff has
filed. Again, plaintiff does not allege that defendants are
involved in any of this conduct ..... He cannot insert new,
unrelated issues into whatever lawsuits happen to be
previous cases, I gave plaintiff similar instructions that
issues outside the scope of his claims should not be raised
in the lawsuit. E.g., Carter v. Ashton, No.
14-cv-399-bbc (W.D. Wis. May 1, 2015), dkt. #62 at 7
(“Plaintiff does not explain how documents related to
an alleged relationship with defendant Ashton are relevant to
his claims, so that issue is outside the scope of this
case.”); Carter v. Ashton, 14-cv-399-bbc (W.D.
Wis. June 11, 2015), dkt. #65 at 3 (“Because plaintiff
has not filed a subpoena and he has not explained how any of
the records he wants are relevant to his claims, I am denying
this part of his motion.”). Plaintiff fails to explain
why he did not heed the court's repeated instructions.
being said, dismissal or an outright filing bar would be
harsh sanctions for filing a motion that should have been
filed as a separate lawsuit, even if the party has made the
same mistake in the past. Defendants do not identify any case
in which similar conduct was sanctioned in that manner.
true that defendants seek sanctions not just because
plaintiff's allegations are unrelated to the case, but
also on the ground that the allegations are false. I
dismissed both Carter v. Waterman, No. 13-cv-742-bbc
(W.D. Wis.), and Carter v. Ashton, No. 14-cv-399-bbc
(W.D. Wis.), as a sanction after finding that plaintiff had
falsified allegations about prison staff. I declined to
impose additional sanctions because plaintiff had not been
sanctioned before, but I advised plaintiff that, if he
“continues to make false allegations in this court and
engages in other litigation misconduct, I will consider
whether a more severe sanction is appropriate, including a
monetary sanction and bar on filing additional lawsuits in
this court.” Carter v. Waterman, No.
13-cv-742-bbc, 2016 WL 407331, at *9 (W.D. Wis. Feb. 2,
2016). I agree with defendants that plaintiff's past
conduct is a relevant consideration in determining whether
plaintiff should be sanctioned in this case. Averhart v.
Sheriff of Cook County, ...