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Adams v. Racine County Jail

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

March 5, 2018

ALEX TERRELL ADAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
RACINE COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants.

         DECISION AND ORDER SCREENING THE PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED COMPLAINT (DKT. NO. 15), DISMISSING CERTAIN DEFENDANTS, DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER (DKT. NO. 28), DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL AND MOTION FOR SANCTIONS (DKT. NO. 28), DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO ORDER THE DEFENDANTS TO ALLOW HIM ACCESS TO THE LAW LIBRARY (DKT. NO. 29), AND DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL (DKT. NO. 32)

          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. SCREENING OF THE PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED COMPLAINT

         A. Standard for Screening Complaints

         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 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 Amended Complaint

         The plaintiff has sued the following defendants: Captain Wearin, Dr. Butler, Nurse Erin (or Airin), Nurse Sarah Simon, Unknown Intake Sergeant, Intake Holding Officer John Doe, CO John Doe #1, CO John Doe #2, Advanced Correctional Services, Racine County Jail, Racine County Sheriff's Department and Sheriff Schmaling. Dkt. No. 15 at 1.

         On April 1, 2016, the plaintiff arrived at the Racine County Jail, and during the medical screening, informed the booking officer that he had seizures. Id. at ¶¶ 16-17.

         About a month later, on April 27, 2016, the plaintiff had a seizure while in his cell. Id. at ¶18. “John Doe Correctional Officer” (not a defendant) contacted medical staff, and Nurse Ammon (not a defendant) went to the plaintiff's cell. Id. The plaintiff was “conscious but unresponsive, shaking and diaphonetic pupils constricted and unable to squeeze [Ammon's] hands.” Id. Several unidentified correctional officers (also not defendants) told the plaintiff later that correctional officers moved him out of the cell “by his arms and legs while his head hanged backwards as he foamed at the mouth and was unresponsive.” Id. at ¶19. He was taken through to intake, through the sally port, onto a stretcher, into an ambulance and to the hospital. Id. at ¶20. At about 2:30 a.m. the next day, the plaintiff was discharged from Wheaton Franciscan Hospital with orders to follow up two days later with neurologist Janel Schneider (not a defendant), and with a prescription for 100mg of Dilanton. Id. at ¶21.

         Once the plaintiff got back to the jail that morning, “Nurse Jane Doe” (not a defendant) took his vitals. Id. at ¶22. The plaintiff asked for his seizure medication, but the nurse told him that she could not give him the medication without a doctor's order. Id. She said this even though she had the discharge papers from Dr. Schneider. Id. The plaintiff was placed in intake because of the seizures. Id.

         At around noon that day, Nurse Erin and Nurse Sarah Simon were called to intake because the plaintiff was unresponsive. Id. at ¶23. Once the plaintiff “became responsive, ” he observed Nurse Erin blocking his breathing “by sticking two ammonia tabs up both his nostrils with latex gloved hands covering his mouth and nose, pushing down with tremendous force.” Id. This made his ability to breathe “unbearable.” Id. “This comes after [the plaintiff] had seizures the whole morning and fought for his life to stay conscious and alive with no strength to call for help or to press the emergency button . . . .” Id. The plaintiff alleges that “Unknown Intake Sergeant, ” “John Doe Intake Holding Officer, ” “John Doe CO #1, ” and “John Doe CO #2” allowed him to “seize” all morning, and that neither Nurse Sarah nor the COs stopped Nurse Erin from blocking the plaintiff's breathing. Id. at ¶24.

         The following day, on April 29, 2017, the plaintiff wrote an inmate grievance regarding the incident to the “Jail Sergeant” (not a defendant) and Captain Wearing. Id. at ¶25. Captain Wearing responded on May 6, 2016, “but never stated if anything, on how he was going to handle this situation or if he was going to investigate why [the plaintiff] was not properly checked on.” Id. The jail sergeant never responded. Id.

         The plaintiff says that he did not get his prescribed Dilantin until defendant Dr. Butler gave it to him two weeks later, id. at ¶26, and he alleges that Dr. Butler “bumped” the medication from the 100 mg prescribed at Wheaton Franciscan to 200 mg, dkt. no. 15-2 at 1. The plaintiff asserts that this caused him mental, physical and emotional anguish. Id.

         The plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and asks the court to order the defendants to do various things. Id. at 4-5.

         C. Legal Analysis of Alleged Facts

         To state a claim for relief under §1983, the 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 the 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)). Liability under §1983 is predicated on a defendant's personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation. Gentry v. Duckworth, 65 F.3d 555, 561 (7th Cir. 1995). “An official satisfies the personal responsibility requirement of section 1983 . . . if the conduct causing the constitutional deprivation occurs at [his] direction or with [his] knowledge and consent.” Id. (quoting Crowder v. Lash, 687 F.2d 996, 1005 (7th Cir. 1982). He “must know about the conduct and facilitate it, approve it, condone it, or turn a blind eye.” Id. (quoting Jones v. City of Chicago, 856 F.2d 985, 992 (7th Cir. 1988).

         1. Racine County Jail and Racine County Sheriff's Department

         The court will not allow the plaintiff to proceed with any claims against the Racine County Jail or the ...


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