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Dees v. Clements

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

March 5, 2018

CHARLES JOLSON DEES, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN MARK CLEMENTS, NURSE HOBAN, DONNA FONTANA, BETH DITTMANN, JOANNE BOVEE, WARDEN PAUL KEMPER, CAPTAIN CHAMPAM, DEPUTY WARDEN JOHNSON, SECURITY DIRECTOR ALDANA, SGT. PIECH, SGT. HAGERTY, OFFICER AKER, K. VASQUEZ, K. SCHULTZ, M. REDD, A. HILTANEN, B. LABELLE, B. HOMPE, CATHY JESS, and M. GREEN, Defendants.

          ORDER

          J. P. STADTMUELLER, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Charles Jolson Dees, who is incarcerated at the Drug Abuse Correctional Center in Winnebago, Wisconsin, proceeds in this matter pro se. He filed a complaint alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights. (Docket #1). This matter comes before the court on Plaintiff's petition to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee (in forma pauperis). (Docket #2). Plaintiff has been assessed and paid an initial partial filing fee of $14.23. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         The court shall screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court 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. Id. § 1915A(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) (citations omitted).

         To state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, the 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 mere “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). 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's allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).

         In considering whether a complaint states a claim, courts should follow the principles set forth in Twombly by first, “identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations. Id. If there are well-pleaded factual allegations, the court must, second, “assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id.

         To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. Section 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 deprivation was visited upon him by a person or persons acting under color of state law. Buchanan-Moore v. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Kramer v. Vill. of N. Fond du Lac, 384 F.3d 856, 861 (7th Cir. 2004)); see also Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). The court is obliged to give the plaintiff's 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)).

         Plaintiff alleges that he has a prosthetic leg. (Docket #1 at 3). On January 20, 2016, Plaintiff was transferred to Dodge Correctional Institution (“Dodge”). Id. Once there, Defendant Nurse Hoban (“Hoban”) took the special shoes that were fitted for the prosthetic. Id. The shoes were then lost. Id. Plaintiff states that he has suffered a number of painful medical problems since the loss of his shoes. Id.

         Plaintiff's allegations against Hoban implicate his Eighth Amendment right to a minimal level of healthcare while in custody. Petties v. Carter, 836 F.3d 722, 727-28 (7th Cir. 2016). The Eighth Amendment is violated when the prisoner shows that they “suffered from an objectively serious medical condition, ” and that “the individual defendant was deliberately indifferent to that condition.” Id. at 728. The Gayton case neatly summarizes the claim:

[T]he plaintiff must show that: (1) [he] had an objectively serious medical condition; (2) the defendants knew of the condition and were deliberately indifferent to treating h[im]; and (3) this indifference caused h[im] some injury. An objectively serious medical condition is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would perceive the need for a doctor's attention. A medical condition need not be life-threatening to be serious; rather, it could be a condition that would result in further significant injury or unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain if not treated.
With regard to the deliberate indifference prong, the plaintiff must show that the official acted with the requisite culpable state of mind. This inquiry has two components. The official must have subjective knowledge of the risk to the inmate's health, and the official also must disregard that risk. Evidence that the official acted negligently is insufficient to prove deliberate indifference. Rather, deliberate indifference is simply a synonym for intentional or reckless conduct, and that reckless describes conduct so dangerous that the deliberate nature of the defendant's actions can be inferred. Simply put, an official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference. Even if a defendant recognizes the substantial risk, he is free from liability if he responded reasonably to the risk, even if the harm ultimately was not averted.

Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 620 (7th Cir. 2010) (citations and quotations omitted). In sum, “deliberate indifference means actual, personal knowledge of a serious risk, coupled with the lack of any reasonable response to it.” Ayoubi v. Dart, No. 17-1561, 2018 WL 671152, at *2 (7th Cir. Feb. 2, 2018). Plaintiff's allegations do not explain, or even allow an inference, that Hoban deliberately misplaced Plaintiff's shoes knowing this would cause him severe pain or other medical complications. Thus, Plaintiff's allegations fail to state a valid claim against Hoban.

         As to the other defendants, they are not mentioned at all. Plaintiff indicates that some are from Dodge, but others are employed at Racine Correctional Institution. See (Docket #1 at 2). Without any allegations of what each defendant did, and how their actions violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights, he may not proceed against them.

         The Court will allow Plaintiff an opportunity to amend his complaint to correct these deficiencies. If he chooses to offer an amended complaint, Plaintiff must do so no later than March 26, 2018. If he does not do so, this action will be dismissed. Plaintiff should be aware that an amended complaint supersedes the prior complaint and must be complete in itself without reference to the original complaint. See Duda v. Bd. of Educ. of Franklin Park Pub. Sch. Dist. No. 84, 133 F.3d 1054, 1056-57 (7th Cir. 1998). In Duda, the Seventh Circuit emphasized that in such instances, the “prior pleading is in effect withdrawn as to all matters not restated in the amended pleading[.]” Id. at 1057 (citation omitted); see also Pintado v. Miami-Dade Housing Agency, 501 F.3d 1241, 1243 (11th Cir. 2007) (“As a general matter, ‘[a]n amended pleading supersedes the former pleading; the original pleading is abandoned by the amendment, and is no longer a part of the pleader's ...


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