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Cooper v. Hull

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

November 30, 2017

MICHAEL R. COOPER, Plaintiff,
v.
LT. HULL, RUMPEL, AND JOHN AND JANE DOES, Defendants.

          SCREENING ORDER

          WILLIAM E. DUFFIN U.S. Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Michael R. Cooper, who is confined at the Milwaukee County Jail, is representing himself. He filed a complaint alleging that jail staff members failed to follow administrative procedures and provide due process of law. This matter comes before the court on Cooper's petition to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee (in forma pauperis) and to screen the complaint.

         Cooper has paid an initial partial filing fee of $20.00. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). The court will grant his petition to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee and direct collection of the remainder of the filing fee as explained at the end of this order.

         Standard of Review for Screening Complaint

         The court shall 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, 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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). However, a complaint that offers mere “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). 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's allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).

         In 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.

         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)).

         Complaint's Allegations

         Cooper alleges that on April 25, 2017, he was placed on disciplinary status pending investigation of an altercation with another inmate. Lieutenant Murano (not a defendant) allegedly informed Cooper that if he did not receive a violation report or hearing within 72 hours, he would be released from “discipline.”

         Cooper alleges that on April 29, 2017, he filed a grievance on defendant Lieutenant Hull for holding a violation hearing without cause and for failing to provide paperwork regarding the hearing or violation. Cooper states that on May 2, 2017, he sent a request to Lieutenant Hull regarding the failure to follow the rules of hearing and appeals but did not receive a response from Hull. Cooper alleges that on May 5, 2017, he sent another request to Hull for his failure to provide the required paperwork for a disciplinary hearing and appeal, but again did not receive a response from Hull.

         Next, Cooper alleges that on April 26, 2017, he sent a request to a lieutenant asking that two phone numbers be placed on the phone call list. He states that on May 2, 2017, he filed a grievance regarding the jail's policy not allowing inmates to have stamps or make phone calls and “violating my constitutional rights by refusing me to correspond with family and my attorney.” Cooper alleges that on May 21, 2017, he appealed the grievance.

         Next, Cooper alleges that on May 6, 2017, he filed a grievance about staff using food as discipline while he was being disciplined for an infraction he never committed. Cooper alleges that he did not receive a response to his grievance.

         Next, Cooper alleges that on September 6, 2017, he sent a letter of complaint/appeal to the jail commander with regard to the grievances that were not responded to after appeal, “as it clearly states in the ...


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