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Crawford v. Racine County Jail

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

May 22, 2017

JASON A. CRAWFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
RACINE COUNTY JAIL, Defendant.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM E. DUFFIN U.S. Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Jason A. Crawford, who is representing himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the Racine County Jail violated his constitutional rights. This order resolves Crawford's motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee and screens his complaint.

         Motion for Leave to Proceed without Prepayment of the 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 they pay an initial partial filing fee. On April 24, 2017, the court decided that Crawford lacks the means to pay an initial partial filing fee, so the court waived that requirement. The court will grant Crawford's motion to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee. He must pay the filing fee over time as explained at the end of this order.

         Screening of the Complaint

         The 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. § 1915A(b).

         To state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, a 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). To 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. 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).

         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)).

         The Complaint's Allegations

         Crawford alleges that on February 12, 2017, he was placed in a holding cell with cold air blowing all day, which resulted in a sore throat and constant shivering. Crawford also states that the lights were never turned off, making it impossible for him to sleep.

         Shortly after being placed in the holding cell, he was sent to the hospital for a few days because of stomach issues. He returned to the Jail and was placed in general population. After about a week, Crawford (for unspecified reasons) swallowed a pencil. Crawford told the Jail staff and was seen by a nurse; he eventually was sent to the hospital for x-rays and a CT scan. The hospital could not find the pencil so it discharged him. Crawford insisted that he had swallowed a pencil, but the Jail staff did not believe him.

         Crawford was placed back in the holding cell on twenty-three hour lockdown. As before, it was cold and the lights were constantly on. Crawford states that he told the Jail staff that he was claustrophobic and asked to be housed with people or moved to the medical unit, but they refused to move him. As a result of the stress, Crawford swallowed pieces of a plastic spork. Crawford told the Jail staff, but they didn't believe him at first. It took them five hours to get him to the hospital.

         The hospital admitted Crawford in order to do a scope the next morning, but he was taken into surgery in the middle of the night because the surgeon said they could not wait. During the surgery, the surgeon found the pencil. Crawford stayed in the hospital for about a week and then was released back to the Jail. The Jail staff placed Crawford back in the cold holding cell instead of in the medical unit; he was placed on suicide watch.

         Crawford begged to go to the medical unit, but his request was refused. He then asked for materials to file a lawsuit. Again, the Jail staff refused and instead gave him eighteen days of discipline for defamation of ...


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