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Pietila v. Tritt

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

March 7, 2018

MICHAEL SCOTT PIETILA, Plaintiff,
v.
CAPTAIN TRITT, and JOHN AND JANE DOES, Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER SCREENING THE PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED COMPLAINT (DKT. NO. 13) AND DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS TO APPOINT COUNSEL (DKT. NOS. 5 AND 10).

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Michael Scott Pietila, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing himself, filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, regarding his conditions-of-confinement at the Waupun Correctional Institution (“WCI”). Dkt No. 1. He also has filed two motions asking the court to appoint counsel to represent him. Dkt. Nos. 5, 10. The plaintiff has consented to Judge Duffin's authority to resolve the case, but because the defendants have not yet been served, they have not had the opportunity to consent. For that reason, the case is before this court for the limited purpose of screening the amended complaint and resolving the pending motions for appointment of counsel.

         I. Screening the Amended 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 Amended Complaint

         Magistrate Judge William Duffin screened the plaintiff's original complaint on February 7, 2018, and instructed the plaintiff to file an amended complaint. Dkt. No. 12. Judge Duffin identified two main problems with the original complaint: (1) the plaintiff had named nineteen different individuals as defendants, but had not described what these individuals did or did not do to violate his constitutional rights, and (2) it appeared that the plaintiff may have been attempting to assert unrelated claims against different defendants in the same lawsuit. Id. at 5-6.

         The court received the plaintiff's amended complaint on February 22, 2018; it named Captain Tritt and “John and Jane Does” as defendants. Dkt. No. 13. Although the plaintiff did not re-plead all of the relevant factual allegations from the original complaint, he explains that Tritt was the “supervisor” during the one-month period that the plaintiff was in the Restrictive Housing Unit (“RHU”). Id. at 1. Tritt made “periodic rounds” on RHU, and the plaintiff says that Tritt was the person who initially gave the order to put the plaintiff in “control status.” Id.

         The plaintiff indicates that he was temporarily insane, suffering from paranoid delusions and living in an “alternate reality.” Id. at 2. He says that he suffers from numerous mental health diagnoses that make it hard for him to function from day to day. Id. The plaintiff alleges that while he was in the RHU, he was not given linens, clothes or things to keep him warm, despite the fact that it was winter/early spring and very cold. Id. Nor was he given things to wash with, or hygiene items. Id. He says he had no mattress to sleep on, and was not given toilet paper “until after about a month.” Id. He says that on several occasions, he had to eat food after wiping his backside with his bare hands. Id.

         The plaintiff replaced the nineteen specific defendants he had named in his original complaint with “John and Jane Does.” Id. He states “during this time period so many WCI employees were deliberately indifferent.” Id. He says he continually sought relief and help, making numerous requests for the items he had not been given. Id. at 2-3. He says that “[a]ll knew about it, facilitated it, condoned it, approved it, or turned a blind eye.” Id. at 3. The plaintiff provides no other information about who the “John and Jane Does” are or what they did or did not do to violate his constitutional rights. With regard to Tritt, the plaintiff says that it is “almost impossible that [Tritt] ...


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