United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
STADTMUELLER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Derrick Alan Wilson, Jr. (“Wilson”), proceeding
pro se, filed a complaint alleging that Defendant,
Milwaukee County, violated his rights. (Docket #1). Before
the Court is Wilson's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis. (Docket #2). In order to allow a plaintiff to
proceed without paying the filing fee, the Court must first
decide whether the plaintiff has the ability to pay the
filing fee and, if not, whether the lawsuit is frivolous or
fails to state a viable claim. 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(a), (e)(2)(B). The Court will address each of these
first issue, regarding his inability to pay the filing fee,
Wilson avers that he is unemployed, unmarried, and has no
dependents. (Docket #2 at 1). He earns no regular income but
has received $900 in the last twelve months from “Staff
Works, ” a local temporary staffing agency.
Id. at 2. Wilson reports that he is homeless,
(Docket #1 at 1), and explains that he has no expenses or
assets of any kind, (Docket #2 at 2-4). On these averments,
particularly in light of the fact that Wilson is homeless,
the Court finds that he has demonstrated that he cannot pay
the $350 filing fee and $50 administrative fee.
Screening the Complaint
any filing fee, the Court must dismiss a complaint or portion
thereof if it 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. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A claim 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, a 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
“labels and conclusions” or “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 allegations
“must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555
complaint concerns a wide variety of alleged unlawful acts.
Unfortunately, his allegations are too scattered, incoherent,
and bereft of detail to proceed at present. Put simply,
Wilson has not told the Court and the defendants the
“who, what, when, and where” of his claims. The
essential function of a complaint is to provide notice,
see Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), and defendants should not
be forced to incur the cost of defending themselves in a
federal lawsuit absent some indication that the plaintiff has
a cognizable claim and enough information so they know what
his claim is about. The Court will permit Wilson an
opportunity to amend his complaint to rectify this and other
problems, but first it will explain why each of his claims
Harassment by Glendale Police Department
Wilson says that he has been physically assaulted and
harassed by members of the Glendale Police Department during
a three-year span between 2014 and 2017. (Docket #1 at 2). He
explains that on one or more occasions, his sister would call
Glendale police officers to remove him from their
grandfather's house. Id. Additionally,
“one day, [the officers] racially profiled and
illegally stopped, assaulted, and arrested me.”
Id. Wilson contends that the harassment was so
severe that officers would show up while he was shopping at a
local store and arrest him without cause. Id.
the alleged harassment, unlawful arrest, and use of excessive
force by the Glendale police, Wilson may be able to proceed
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his rights
under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. See
Buchanan-Moore v. Cnty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827
(7th Cir. 2009); Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640
(1980). However, he must offer further detail as to the dates
and circumstances of each incident he wishes to challenge as
unlawful. Vague suggestions regarding what appear to be
unrelated incidents that occur over a three-year timespan are
not enough to meet even the low pleading standards required
by Rule 8. See Higgs v. Carver, 286 F.3d 437, 439
(7th Cir. 2011) (a complaint must specify “the bare
minimum facts necessary to put the defendant on notice of the
claim so that he can file an answer”).
Wilson must name the individual officers involved as
defendants. If he does not know their real names, he should
identify them as John or Jane Does and they can be identified
by their true names during discovery. Further, Wilson cannot
simply sue Milwaukee County for the allegedly unlawful acts
he has described even though the conduct appears to have
occurred in Milwaukee County. Local government entities, such
as municipalities and counties, cannot be held vicariously
liable for constitutional violations committed by their
employees. Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of
New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). Instead, such
entities are liable only if their policies or widespread
practices lead to the plaintiff's injury. Thomas v.
Cook Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 604 F.3d 293, 303
(7th Cir. 2010). If Wilson believes that such a policy or
practice exists in this case, he should name the relevant
municipality, not Milwaukee County, and allege sufficient
facts to raise a plausible inference that a such a policy or
Incidents in the Milwaukee House of Corrections
Wilson levies complaints against correctional officers at the
Milwaukee County House of Corrections, though he does not
explain when or why he was housed there. Id. at 2-3.
First, Wilson claims he was assaulted without reason by a
correctional officer whose last name is Janik. Id.
at 3. Second, he states that he was sexually harassed by a
different male correctional ...