United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff Caroline Paula More contends that she was treated
inhumanely by Vernon County sheriff deputies and the staff at
Vernon Memorial Healthcare. She describes the case as one
brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of her
civil rights and for medical malpractice.
allowed More to proceed in forma pauperis, Dtk. 3,
so now I will screen her proposed complaint and dismiss any
portion that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted or asks for money
damages from a defendant who by law cannot be sued for money
damages. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Because she is
proceeding without an attorney, I will construe More's
pro se complaint generously. See Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 521 (1972) (per curiam). I conclude that
More's complaint fails to state a claim. I will give her
an opportunity to amend her complaint to address the problems
pointed out in this order.
the following facts from the allegations in More's
complaint, Dkt. 1, and I accept them as true for the purposes
of screening the complaint.
September 2014, More was in a cafe in Readstown, Wisconsin.
More alleges that she “interfaced” with two
deputy sheriffs. Id., at 1. She alleges “More
immediately informed the ‘lead' deputy that she
experienced a type of illness that resulted in what is
medically known as ‘urgency' of one's colon.
Then, the woman defecated.” Id. at 2. More
does not allege that she told the deputy sheriffs that she
needed to go to the bathroom or that they prevented her from
using it. Nor can I tell from the complaint whether the
deputies had taken More into custody or whether she was
asking them for help.
was transferred to Vernon Memorial Healthcare in Viroqua,
Wisconsin. She alleges that medical staff gave her Haldol,
antipsychotic medicine, and drew her blood and diagnosed a
urinary tract infection. More alleges that she still had
excrement on her body, but medical staff did not clean her.
They instead wrote in her medical records, “she
stinks.” Id. Medical staff also failed to
check her medical records, which would have shown that More
had a clostridium difficile intestinal infection, which was
the cause of her intestinal infection.
was eventually transferred to the Vernon County Jail. She
alleges that she should have been placed in a segregation
cell so that her infection would not be spread to other
inmates. More also alleges that “agents of the
Sheriff's department, ” which I take to mean jail
staff, did not allow her to continue her medicine for her
Vulvodynia, a condition that causes chronic pain in the
genital area. Id. I take More to mean that she was
on pain medicine before she arrived at the jail, but jail
staff denied her pain medicine, and due to the abrupt
discontinuation of her medicine, she suffered adverse
effects. But More does not actually allege that she ever told
anyone at the jail that she had such pain or needed medicine
has named as defendants Vernon County, the Sheriff's
Department of Vernon County, Vernon Memorial Healthcare,
Inc., the State of Wisconsin Justice Department, and State of
Wisconsin. More has not named any individual as a defendant.
deny More leave to proceed for several reasons.
has named defendants who cannot be sued under § 1983.
More may not proceed against State of Wisconsin or its
Justice Department in a lawsuit of this type because a state
and its agencies are not persons under § 1983. See
Thomas v. Illinois, 697 F.3d 612, 613 (7th Cir. 2012)
(citing Will v. Michigan Dep't. of State Police,
491 U.S. 58, 70-71 (1989)). As for Vernon County and its
Sheriff's Department, More does not allege that she was
wronged by actions taken pursuant to a county policy or
custom, which is the only way a municipality or its agencies
may be held liable under § 1983. Monell v. Dep't
of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691
(1978). The claims against Vernon Memorial Healthcare, Inc.,
are based on the doctrine of respondeat superior,
which means that More is trying to hold Vernon Memorial
Healthcare responsible for the actions of its employees. But
“[u]nder existing precedent, neither public nor private
entities may be held vicariously liable under §
1983.” Collins v. Al-Shami, 851 F.3d 727, 734
(7th Cir. 2017).
even if More had named individual defendants, her allegations
would not state a claim against any individuals. For any
violation of her civil rights, she would have to explain what
each individual did to violate her rights and cause her harm.
More does not explain whether she asked the deputy sheriffs
to allow her to use the bathroom or how they prevented her
from using it. She does not explain how she herself suffered
any harm by jail officials' failure to segregate her from
other inmates when other inmates were the ones who
were exposed to clostridium difficile.
claims against staff at Vernon Memorial appear to be medical
malpractice claims. To state such a claim she would have to
identify a physician who provided care that failed to meet
the required standard of care, and explain how that physician
harmed her. See Paul v. Skemp, 2001 WI 42, ¶
17, 242 Wis.2d 507, 520, 625 N.W.2d 860, 865. If she intends
to bring a civil rights claim against staff at Vernon
Memorial for deliberate indifference to her rights, she will
also have to allege facts that the staff was providing
services on ...