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Parker v. Kenosha County Sheriff's Department

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

February 23, 2018

JASON M. PARKER, Plaintiff,
v.
KENOSHA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          LYNN ADELMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Jason M. Parker, who was formerly confined at the 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 addresses, but does not resolve, his motion to appoint counsel. Docket No. 7.

         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 13, 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's complaint alleges that named defendants, Kenosha County Sheriff's Department, Kenosha County Detention Center, Kenosha County Correctional Health Services (KCCHS), and Kenosha County Jail Pre-Trial Facility, deliberately and continually retaliated against him for filing a sexual abuse case against one of the officers in November 2016. Plaintiff alleges he has been suffering “mentally, physically, and emotionally.” He alleges that defendants have deprived him of his “rights, privileges, and immunities, ” ignored his sentence, and subjected to him cruel and unusual punishment by placing him segregation and keeping him on intake blocks. Keeping him on intake blocks deprived him of numerous privileges, such as better food, fresh air, clothing, and work programs. Plaintiff also alleges that KCCHS deliberately ignored his medical needs.

         Analysis

         Plaintiff's complaint lists numerous conclusory allegations against the defendants. While plaintiff may have claims, he does not sufficiently state them here. There is no way for the court to draw any reasonable inferences about specific incidents of constitutional violations. Construing the complaint liberally, it seems that plaintiff may have claims for retaliation, deliberate indifference to medical needs, and cruel and unusual punishment under either the Fourteenth or Eighth Amendment (depending on plaintiff's status at the time of the event(s)).

         It is not clear whether or when plaintiff was a pretrial detainee rather than a convicted prisoner. But either way, in order to state a retaliation claim, plaintiff must demonstrate 1) that he engaged in an activity protected by the First Amendment; 2) that he suffered some sort of a deprivation that would be likely to deter him from engaging in that activity in the future; and 3) that the protected activity was at least a motivating factor in the defendant's decision to take retaliatory action against him. Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009); see also Potts v. Moreci, 12 F.Supp. 1065, 1073 (N.D. Ill. 2013) (applying standard to pretrial detainee).

         The requirements for stating a claim for deliberate indifference are the same whether plaintiff was a pretrial detainee or serving a sentence. 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 ...


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