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Brown v. Kamphuis

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

April 26, 2017

ENNIS LEE BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
NICOLE KAMPHUIS, M. HILLE, BRIAN FOSTER, TONIA MOON, S. STABB, CINDI O'DONNELL, BRAD HOMPE, MARC CLEMENTS, JON LITSCHER, AND WILLIAM POLLARD, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF THE FILING FEE (DKT. NO. 2), SCREENING COMPLAINT UNDER 28 U.S.C. §1915A, AND DISMISSING CASE WITHOUT PREJUDICE

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Ennis Lee Brown, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing himself, filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that the defendants violated his rights under federal and state law. Dkt. No. 1. This order resolves the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee (in forma pauperis) and screens the plaintiff's complaint.

         I. IN FORMA PAUPERIS STATUS

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act applies to this case because the plaintiff is incarcerated. 28 U.S.C. §1915. The law allows a court to give an incarcerated plaintiff the ability to proceed with his lawsuit without pre-paying the civil case-filing fee, as long as he meets certain conditions. Id. One of those conditions is a requirement that the plaintiff pay an initial partial filing fee. 28 U.S.C. §1915(b). Once the plaintiff pays the initial partial filing fee, the court may allow the plaintiff to pay the balance of the $350 filing fee over time, through deductions from his prisoner account. Id.

         On February 2, 2017, the court assessed an initial partial filing fee of $7.36. Dkt. No. 5. The plaintiff paid $8.00 on February 10, 2017. Therefore, the court will grant the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee, and will allow the plaintiff to pay the balance of the $350 filing fee over time from his prisoner account, as described at the end of this order.

         II. SCREENING OF PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

         A. Standard for Screening Complaints

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act requires federal courts 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 may dismiss part or all of a case if the claims alleged are “frivolous or malicious, ” fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B).

         To state a claim under the federal notice pleading system, the plaintiff must provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint need not plead specific facts, and need only provide “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)). “Labels and conclusions” or a “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).

         The factual content of the complaint must allow the court to “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Indeed, allegations must “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations, when accepted as true, must state a claim that is “plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Federal courts follow the two-step analysis set forth in Twombly to determine whether a complaint states a claim. Id. at 679. First, the court determines whether the plaintiff's legal conclusions are supported by factual allegations. Id. Legal conclusions not supported by facts “are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. Second, the court determines whether the well-pleaded factual allegations “plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id. The court gives 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)).

         B. Facts Alleged in the Complaint

         The plaintiff is incarcerated at the Waupun Correctional Institution (Waupun). Dkt. No. 1 at 3. He alleges that Waupun's inmate accounts department illegally took his money, contrary to Wisconsin law, Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) policy, Wisconsin Division of Adult Institutions (DAI) policy, and the plaintiff's judgment of conviction. Id. According to the plaintiff, on October 21, 2013, he was sentenced in his state criminal case, State of Wisconsin v. Brown, Milwaukee County Case Number 2012CF3796. Id. As part of the plaintiff's sentence, the court ordered him to pay court costs, a DNA victim witness surcharge, and fees, under Wis.Stat. §973.05(4)(b). Id. The plaintiff's judgment of conviction states that Brown should “[p]ay applicable costs, surcharges, victim witness surcharge and assessments. To be paid through collection by DOC from 25% of funds under Sec 973.05(4)(b).” See Dkt. No. 1-1 at 1-2.

         1. Use of Gifted Funds

         The plaintiff alleges that when he arrived at Waupun in January 2014, the accounts department began to take money from all funds, “contrary to the court ordered 25% of earned funds order Wis.Stat. §973.05(4)(b).” Dkt. No. 1 at 4 (emphasis added). The plaintiff asked why money that people had given him as a gift was being used for obligations; defendant N. Kamphuis responded that “it must state 25% of earned funds on the J.O.C.” Id. The plaintiff asserts that Kamphuis refused to correct the erroneous use of the gifted funds.[1] Id.

         2. Denial of Access ...


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