United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
MATTHEW T. VANPIETERSOM, Plaintiff,
SGT. PETERSON and HSU PROVIDER, Defendants.
Stadtmueller, U.S. District Judge.
Matthew J. Vanpietersom, who is incarcerated at Waupun
Correctional Institution, proceeds in this matter pro
se. He filed a complaint alleging that Defendants
violated his constitutional rights. (Docket #1). This matter
comes before the court on Plaintiff's petition to proceed
without prepayment of the filing fee (in form
pauperis). (Docket #2). Plaintiff has been assessed and
paid an initial partial filing fee of $5.54. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).
court shall screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking
relief against a governmental entity or an 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. Id. §
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); Hutchinson ex rel. Baker v. Spink, 126 F.3d
895, 900 (7th Cir. 1997). 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.
“Malicious, ” although sometimes treated as a
synonym for “frivolous, ” “is more usefully
construed as intended to harass.” Lindell v.
McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107, 1109-10 (7th Cir. 2003)
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 Atl. 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).
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.
state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. Section 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. Vill. of N. 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,
alleges that since 2012, he has “been on control all
meds, ” which suggests to the Court that distribution
of medications to him is more tightly controlled than for
other inmates. (Docket #1 at 2). Plaintiff explains that
packs of certain medication are not permitted in his cell.
Id. Despite this restriction, Defendant Sgt.
Peterson (“Peterson”) gave Plaintiff a sixty-pill
pack of Naproxen on September 11, 2017. Id.
Plaintiff promptly took every pill in the pack. Id.
Plaintiff was taken to the hospital, where he had to stay in
the ICU overnight. Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff says that
this incident happened because the guards “simpl[y]
don't care.” Id. at 3.
Eighth Amendment provides, inter alia, that
prisoners are entitled to a minimal level of healthcare while
in custody. Petties v. Carter, 836 F.3d 722, 727-28
(7th Cir. 2016). The Eighth Amendment is violated when the
prisoner shows that they “suffered from an objectively
serious medical condition, ” and that “the
individual defendant was deliberately indifferent to that
condition.” Id. at 728. The Gayton
case neatly summarizes the claim:
[T]he plaintiff must show that: (1) [he] had an objectively
serious medical condition; (2) the defendants knew of the
condition and were deliberately indifferent to treating
h[im]; and (3) this indifference caused h[im] some injury. An
objectively serious medical condition is one that has been
diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that
is so obvious that even a lay person would perceive the need
for a doctor's attention. A medical condition need not be
life-threatening to be serious; rather, it could be a
condition that would result in further significant injury or
unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain if not treated.
With regard to the deliberate indifference prong, the
plaintiff must show that the official acted with the
requisite culpable state of mind. This inquiry has two
components. The official must have subjective knowledge of
the risk to the inmate's health, and the official also
must disregard that risk. Evidence that the official acted
negligently is insufficient to prove deliberate indifference.
Rather, deliberate indifference is simply a synonym for
intentional or reckless conduct, and that reckless describes
conduct so dangerous that the deliberate nature of the
defendant's actions can be inferred. Simply put, an
official must both be aware of facts from which the inference
could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm
exists, and he must also draw the inference. Even if a
defendant recognizes the substantial risk, he is free from
liability if he responded reasonably to the risk, even if the
harm ultimately was not averted.
Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 620 (7th Cir. 2010)
(citations and quotations omitted). In sum, “deliberate
indifference means actual, personal knowledge of a serious
risk, coupled with the lack of any reasonable response to
it.” Ayoubi v. Dart, No. 17-1561, 2018 WL
671152, at *2 (7th Cir. Feb. 2, 2018).
Plaintiff's allegations in a light most favorable to him,
he may proceed against Peterson for a claim of deliberate
indifference. Plaintiff alleges that he had serious medical
conditions, both in his medication restriction and his later
hospitalization. He further alleges that his medication
intake was restricted for years prior to the September 2017
incident. The Court infers from this that Peterson knew he
should not give Plaintiff the full pack of Naproxen. The
Court further infers that Peterson knew that giving Plaintiff
the pack created a substantial risk that Plaintiff would
overdose and suffer severe injury. Whether these inferences
are ultimately supported by fact must be left for a later
time. Plaintiff may not proceed against the unnamed
“HSU Provider, ” however. That person is not
mentioned anywhere in the body of the Complaint.
the Court finds that Plaintiff may proceed on the following
claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b): Deliberate
indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs on
September 11, 2017, in ...