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Parker v. Knecht

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 23, 2018

JASON M. PARKER, Plaintiff,
C.O. KNECHT, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Jason M. Parker, who was formerly confined at Kenosha County Jail, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that defendants violated his civil rights. This order resolves plaintiff's motion to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee and screens his complaint. Docket Nos. 2 & 1. It also resolves his motion to appoint counsel. Docket No. 8. His motion to correct the name of a defendant is granted. Docket No. 7. C.O. Keintz will now be identified as C.O. Knecht.

         Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) applies to this case because plaintiff was incarcerated at the time he filed his complaint. The PLRA gives courts discretion to allow plaintiffs to proceed with their lawsuits without prepaying the $350 filing fee, as long as they comply with certain requirements. 28 U.S.C. § 1915. One of those requirements is that the plaintiff pay an initial partial filing fee. On July 11, 2017, U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin (the judge assigned to the case at that time) ordered plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of $36.45. Plaintiff paid that fee on July 26, 2017. As such, I will grant his motion to proceed without prepayment of the full filing fee. Plaintiff must pay the remainder of the filing fee.

         Screening of Plaintiff's Complaint

         Federal law requires that I 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). I 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 claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, “that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows a court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         To proceed 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 defendant was 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). I will give a pro se plaintiff's 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)).

         Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff alleges that on April 4, 2017, while he was confined at Kenosha County Jail, he began to experience pain and itching through his body. His family called the jail and spoke to the nurses, who advised them to tell plaintiff that he should tell his dorm officer that it was an emergency and he needed to get to “medical” immediately. When plaintiff notified the defendants, dorm officer Holterman, correctional officer Knecht, and correctional officer Shelby, Knecht yelled, “Just 'cause your family called up here, doesn't mean you're going to medical.” Knecht became very angry, and plaintiff asked for his badge number. Knecht refused to give it. Later, correctional officer Martini and a nurse were on plaintiff's cell block. The other inmates and plaintiff notified them that he needed medical services, but they ignored him. Docket No. 1 at p. 3-4. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. Id. at 5.


         It appears that at the time of the events underlying this lawsuit, plaintiff was a pretrial detainee. A pretrial detainee's claim of inadequate medical care is a Due Process claim, but it is analyzed in the same way as a prisoner's claim under the Eighth Amendment complaining that officials were deliberately indifferent. Chavez v. Cady, 207 F.3d 901, 904 (7th Cir. 2000). Prison officials violate the proscription against cruel and unusual punishment when their conduct demonstrates 'deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners.'" Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1369 (7th Cir. 1997). This standard contains both an objective element (that the medical needs be sufficiently serious) and a subjective element (that the officials act with a sufficiently culpable state of mind). Id. I will allow plaintiff to proceed on a deliberate indifference claim against defendants Holterman, Knecht, Shelby, Martini, and the not-yet-identified nurse based on his allegations that they ignored his requests for medical treatment when he was experiencing pain and itching throughout his body. Once a scheduling order has been issued, the plaintiff will use discovery to identify the unnamed nurse defendant.

         Plaintiff lists many other prison officials in his complaint, but the only defendants he has identified as being actively involved are those I have listed above. Therefore, the following defendants are dismissed from the lawsuit: C.O. Barry, C.O. Valiuga, C.O. Tietz, C.O. Smith, C.O. Rhonda, C.O. Hamilton, Steve (Aramark) Commissary, Sgt. Willstead, Cpl. Reid, Nurse Jamie, C.O. Gaitan, C.O. Israel, C.O. Norwood, Det. Keith, C.O. T. Smith, C.O. Gillett, C.O. Haynes, Desk Clerk, C.O. Martinez, C.O. V. Sarzant, C.O. Vallamolla, and C.O. Todd.

         It appears that plaintiff wants to hold the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department and Kenosha County Correctional Health Services (sued as KCCHS) liable for the alleged misconduct of their employees. However, § 1983 “creates a cause of action based on personal liability and predicated upon fault; thus liability does not attach unless the individual defendant caused or participated in a constitutional violation.” Vance v. Peters, 97 F.3d 987, 991 (7th Cir. 1996). There is no supervisory liability, collective liability, or vicarious liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Pacelli v. ...

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