United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
STADTMUELLER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff, who is incarcerated at Racine County Jail (the
“Jail”), filed a pro se complaint under
42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights were
violated. (Docket #1). This matter comes before the Court on
the plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis. (Docket #2). It was determined that the
plaintiff was not required to pay an initial partial filing
fee. (Docket #5).
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); 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 Atl. 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 complaint 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, 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. County 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,
plaintiff alleges that on January 24, 2017, he slipped and
fell on a wet floor in the dayroom of the Jail. (Docket #1 at
2). Some correctional officers and a nurse took the plaintiff
back to his cell in a wheelchair because he complained of
back, neck, and rib pain. Id. at 2-3. He was not
taken to the hospital or allowed to see a doctor.
Id. at 3. The plaintiff alleges that he is
“seeking damages from the Racine County Jail for me
falling, the nurse practetioner [sic] for denieing [sic] me a
doctor, and also the two nurse[s] that worked 2nd and 3rd
shift for refusing me treatment.” Id.
plaintiff fails to state a viable claim for relief. He
attempts to assert a claim for constitutional injury under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, but does not identify any constitutional
provision which he believes was violated. See
generally (Docket #1). With regard to his complaint
about the wet floor in the Jail, the Seventh Circuit holds
[t]o prevail on a constitutional claim that he was injured by
the conditions of his confinement, a plaintiff must show that
jail officials were aware of a substantial risk of serious
injury but nevertheless failed to take appropriate steps to
protect him. Negligence or even gross negligence on the part
of officials is not sufficient for liability; their actions
must be intentional or criminally reckless.
Bell v. Ward, 88 Fed.Appx. 125, 127 (7th Cir. 2004)
(citations and quotations omitted). Unfortunately for the
plaintiff, “[f]ederal courts consistently have adopted
the view that slippery surfaces and shower floors in prisons,
without more, cannot constitute a hazardous condition of
confinement.” Pyles v. Fahim, 771 F.3d 403,
410, n.25 (7th Cir. 2014); Bell, 88 Fed.Appx. at
127. The Bell court held that the wet floor Bell
complained of “did not present a substantial risk of
serious injury. Although wet floors do present a possibility
that inmates might slip, Bell's allegations do not
suggest a substantial risk of serious harm that reflects the
deliberate indifference required to impose liability under
the Eighth Amendment.” Bell, 88 Fed.Appx. at
127. A typical negligence claim such as this does not
automatically become a constitutional injury just because it
occurs in a prison. See Watkins v. Lancor, 558
Fed.Appx. 662, 665 (7th Cir. 2014).
the plaintiff's claim of deficient medical treatment, his
potential constitutional recourse lies in the Eighth
Amendment. The Gayton case outlines the elements of
[T]he plaintiff must show that: (1) [he] had an objectively
serious medical condition; (2) the defendants knew of the
condition and were deliberately indifferent to treating
[him]; and (3) this indifference caused [him] some injury. An
objectively serious medical condition is one that has been
diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that
is so obvious that even a lay person would perceive the need
for a doctor's attention. A medical condition need not be
life-threatening to be serious; rather, it could be a
condition that would result in further significant injury or
unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain if not treated.
With regard to the deliberate indifference prong, the
plaintiff must show that the official acted with the
requisite culpable state of mind. This inquiry 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. Evidence that the official acted
negligently is insufficient to prove deliberate indifference.
Rather, “deliberate indifference” is simply a
synonym for intentional or reckless conduct, and that
“reckless” describes conduct so dangerous that
the deliberate nature of the defendant's actions can be
inferred. Simply put, an official must both be aware of facts
from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial
risk of serious harm exists, and ...