United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
JOSHUA J. OSBORNE, Plaintiff,
WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, REDGRANITE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, HEALTH SERVICES UNIT OF REDGRANITE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, SEGREGATION UNIT OF REDGRANITE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, MICHAEL MEISNER, SAUNDRA HAUTAKAMI, BRAD HOMPE, C. O'DONNELL, CAPTAIN WESNER, CAPTAIN KELLER, SGT. FOUCHE, and M. SMITH, Defendants.
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge
who is incarcerated at Redgranite Correctional Institution
(“RCI”), 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
Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis.
(Docket #2). Plaintiff has been assessed and paid an initial
partial filing fee of $2.92. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4).
Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or
employee of a governmental entity. Id. §
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.
Id. § 1915A(b). A claim 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); Paul v. Marberry, 658 F.3d
702, 705 (7th Cir. 2011).
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; 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)); 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. The complaint
allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555; Christopher, 384 F.3d at 881.
considering whether a complaint states a claim, courts should
first “identif[y] 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 “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); Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980).
The Court is obliged to give 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)).
alleges that he was placed in the restricted housing unit
(“RHU”) on temporary lock-up (“TLU”)
status on September 7, 2016. (Docket #1 at 8). He was sent to
the RHU pending investigation into a physical altercation in
which he was involved. Id. When he arrived at the
particular RHU cell to which he was assigned, he was told he
would be put in a cell with another inmate and that he would
sleep on the floor with a mattress. Id. He
protested, claiming that he had to be single-celled due to
his TLU status and that he wanted to avoid sleeping on the
floor because it was dirty with dust and “black
stuff.” Id. He was told he would be forced
into the cell if he did not go in voluntarily. Id.
September 22, 2016, Plaintiff asked to speak with the RHU
sergeant, Defendant Sgt. Fouche (“Fouche”).
Id. Fouche did not respond. Id. He then
asked to speak with the RHU captain, Defendant Captain Wesner
(“Wesner”), on September 24, 2016, but again he
was ignored. Id. Next, on September 26, 2016, he
contacted the prison deputy warden, Defendant Saundra
Hautakami (“Hautakami”), about the “floor
situation” and was told to follow the chain of command
and contact Defendant Captain Keller (“Keller”),
who also worked in the RHU. Id. Keller likewise
ignored Plaintiff's requests for aid, but Plaintiff does
not say when he reached out to Keller. Id.
his confinement in the RHU, Plaintiff submitted inmate
grievances and Health Services Unit (“HSU”)
requests detailing the living conditions he suffered and how
they affected his health. Id. Put briefly, he claims
that night after night as he slept, he was repeatedly bitten
by bugs crawling up through the drain in the cell floor,
which he slept next to. Id. The bug bites caused a
severe rash over his arms, chest, thighs, and back.
Id. at 8-9. The rash itched, caused pain during
showering, and exuded puss. Id. Separately,
Plaintiff complained that being forced to sleep on the floor
meant that he was splashed with his cellmate's urine when
that person used the cell's toilet. Id. at 9.
submitted his first HSU request about these conditions on
September 24, 2016, an inmate grievance on September 26,
2016, and another HSU request on September 28, 2016.
Id. at 8. He alleges that no one responded to these
submissions. Id. at 9. Plaintiff says that he was
taken down to the HSU “eventually, ” though he
does not state on what date this occurred. Id. He
did not see any medical professional while at the HSU.
Id. Instead, he sat there for a few minutes and then
was returned to the RHU. Id. The HSU staff notes
reflect that he refused care, but he appears to allege that
this was a lie. Id. In all, Plaintiff says he
suffered these living conditions in the RHU for two weeks and
that his requests for medical care were ignored for a period
of months afterward. Id.
raises the following claims based on these facts: (1)
inadequate conditions of confinement, in violation of the
Eighth Amendment; (2) medical malpractice under Wisconsin
state law; (3) deliberate indifference to his serious medical
needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Id. at
10. He seeks a declaration that Defendants violated his
rights and asks for compensatory and punitive damages.
Id. at 11. In light of the low bar set at the
screening stage, Plaintiff has alleged facts sufficient to
support his claims.
sleeping on a filthy, urine-soaked mattress on the floor, and
being forced to do so each night despite being bitten by bugs
coming out of a floor drain, suffices to state a claim under
the Eighth Amendment based on conditions of confinement.
See Townsend v. Fuchs, 522 F.3d 765, 773 (7th Cir.
2008) (a conditions-of-confinement claim must involve a
prison official's deliberate indifference to conditions
“sufficiently serious” so as to constitute
“‘the denial of the minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities'”) (quoting Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)). Of course,
“provid[ing] a maximally safe environment, one
completely free from pollution or safety hazards, ” is
not required by the Constitution. Caroll v. DeTella,
255 F.3d 470, 472 (7th Cir. 2001). But at this early stage,
the Court finds it appropriate that this claim should
being completely denied medical care despite a body-covering
rash and repeated requests for aid states a claim for
deliberate indifference to medical needs under the Eighth
Amendment. Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 620 (7th
Cir. 2010) (a medical deliberate indifference claim requires
that (1) the plaintiff had an objectively serious medical
condition, (2) the defendants knew of the condition and were
deliberately indifferent to treating it, and (3) their
indifference caused the plaintiff some injury). Similarly,
these allegations make out a claim for medical malpractice
under Wisconsin state law. Paul v. Skemp, 625 N.W.2d
860, 865 (Wis. 2001) (noting that medical malpractice claims
involve a breach of a duty of care that results in injury).
there remain several problems with Plaintiff's complaint,
all stemming from the fact that Plaintiff has not named all
the responsible parties and has named several inappropriate
parties. First, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections
(“DOC”), Redgranite Correctional Institution, and
its RHU and HSU are not suable entities under Section 1983,
and so Plaintiff's constitutional claims against them
must be dismissed. See Will v. Michigan Dep't of
State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989); Williams v.
Wisconsin, 336 F.3d 576, 580 (7th Cir. 2003). Similarly,
Plaintiff's state-law claim against these Defendants
cannot be maintained, as the Eleventh Amendment immunizes