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Jackson v. Schmaling

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

March 5, 2018

ISAAC TYRONE JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CHRISTOPHER SCHMALING, et al., Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF THE FILING FEE (DKT. NO. 2) AND SCREENING THE COMPLAINT (DKT. NO. 1)

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This case currently is assigned to Magistrate Judge David E. Jones. Although the plaintiff has consented to Judge Jones hearing and deciding the case, the defendants have not yet had the opportunity to decide whether to consent, because until now, the court has not screened the complaint and decided whether it should be served on the defendants. Because both parties have not yet consented to the magistrate judge hearing the case, the district court judge will screen the complaint.

         I. THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF THE FILING FEE

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) applies to this case because the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed the complaint. 28 U.S.C. §1915. The PLRA allows an incarcerated plaintiff to proceed with a lawsuit in federal court without prepaying the full civil case filing fee, as long as he pays an initial partial filing fee. 28 U.S.C. §1915(b). Once the plaintiff pays the initial partial filing fee, the plaintiff can pay the balance of the $350 filing fee over time, through deductions from his prisoner account. Id.

         On October 13, 2017, Judge Jones assessed an initial partial filing fee of $35.76. Dkt. No. 5. The plaintiff paid that amount on October 30, 2017. Therefore, the court will grant the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filling fee and will allow the plaintiff to pay the balance of the $350.00 filing fee over time from his prisoner account, as described at the end of this order.

         II. SCREENING OF THE PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

         A. Standard for Screening Complaints

         The PLRA requires federal courts to 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). The court may dismiss a case, or part of it, if the claims alleged are “frivolous or malicious, ” fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B).

         To state a claim under the federal notice pleading system, the plaintiff must provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint need not plead specific facts, and need only provide “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)). “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).

         The factual content of the complaint must allow the court to “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Allegations must “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations, when accepted as true, must state a claim that is “plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Federal courts follow the two-step analysis in Twombly to determine whether a complaint states a claim. Id. at 679. First, the court determines whether the plaintiff's legal conclusions are supported by factual allegations. Id. Legal conclusions not supported by facts “are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. Second, the court determines whether the well-pleaded factual allegations “plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id. The court gives 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, 106 (1976)).

         B. Facts Alleged in the Complaint

         The plaintiff has sued Sheriff Schmaling, Chief Deputy Hanrahan, Lt. Chavez, Lt. Friend, and corrections officers Johnson, Noble, Ervin, Tapa and Kosterman. Dkt. No. 1 at 1.

         On July 28, 2017, around 3:25 p.m., the plaintiff had a psychological breakdown (he describes it as a “blackout”) and used his toilet to flood his cell. Id. at 3. Correctional Officers Kosterman, Tapa and Ervin came to the ...


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