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Gullikson v. City of Milwaukee Municipality

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

August 2, 2017




         On January 23, 2017, the plaintiff, Nicholas Gullikson, filed a complaint seeking return of $1, 612 that was confiscated from his residence during a drug traffic raid. Dkt No. 1. Magistrate Judge William Duffin screened the plaintiff's complaint, and explained that a district attorney is not required to institute forfeiture proceedings in Wisconsin for property derived from the commission of any crime. Dkt. No. 10 at 8. Instead, a person claiming the right to such property can initiate return of that property through procedures set forth in Wis.Stat. §968.20. Id.

         Judge Duffin then instructed the plaintiff to file an amended complaint: (1) outlining the steps he took to initiate return of his property under Wis.Stat. §968.20, and (2) describing how the state's procedure under §968.20 was constitutionally inadequate. Id. at 10. This matter comes before the court for screening of the amended complaint. Dkt. No. 11.


         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 a case, or part of it, 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. 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 Amended Complaint

         On September 23, 2014, the Wisconsin High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) raided the plaintiff's home. Dkt. No. 11, ¶ 3. During the raid, HIDTA seized $1, 612 from the plaintiff's residence. Id. According to the plaintiff, the confiscated money was not related to drug trafficking and “did not bare any of the same serial numbers as the money used in the control buy that justified the raid.” Id., ¶¶ 6- 7.

         On December 23, 2017, the plaintiff filed a motion in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, seeking return of the money. Id., ¶ 8. A Milwaukee County staff attorney replied that the motion could not be filed because the plaintiff had not served all of the interested parties. Id. It is unclear what actions, if any, the plaintiff took after receiving this letter.

         C. Legal Analysis of Alleged Facts

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. §1983, the 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. ...

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