United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
TREON D. VAUGHN, Plaintiff,
WILLIAM GRIESBACH and J.P. STADTMUELLER, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO WAIVE
INITIAL PARTIAL FILING FEE (DKT. NO. 7), GRANTING
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED WITHOUT
PREPAYMENT OF THE FILING FEE (DKT. NO. 2), SCREENING
PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT AND DISMISSING CASE
PEPPER United States District Judge
plaintiff, who is representing himself, was incarcerated at
the Kenosha County Detention Center when he filed this
complaint, alleging that the defendants violated his civil
rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983. This order resolves the
plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without paying
the filing fee and his motion to waive the initial partial
filing fee. It also screens the plaintiff's complaint,
and dismisses it for failure to state a claim.
Waiving the Initial Partial Filing Fee
Prison Litigation Reform Act applies to this case, because
the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed his complaint.
28 U.S.C. §1915. That law allows a court to give an
incarcerated plaintiff the opportunity to proceed with his
lawsuit without prepaying the full case filing fee, as long
as he meets certain conditions. One of those conditions is a
requirement that the plaintiff pay an initial partial filing
fee. 28 U.S.C. §1915(b).
April 12, 2017, the court ordered the plaintiff to pay an
initial partial filing fee of $17.65 on or before May 5,
2017. Dkt. No. 6. On April 19, 2017, the plaintiff filed a
motion asking the court to waive the initial partial filing
fee. Dkt. No. 7. He asserted that, despite earlier deposits,
he has no regular income and has received no money since
February 2017. Id. A review of the plaintiff's
prisoner trust account statement shows that the plaintiff has
no regular income, a zero balance in his account and a
running balance of debt to the institution. Dkt. No. 5. The
court concludes that the plaintiff doesn't have the money
to pay the initial partial filing fee, and will grant the
plaintiff's motion to waive it. Dkt. No. 7.
court also will grant the plaintiff's motion to proceed
without prepayment of the full filing fee. Dkt. No. 2.
“In no event shall a prisoner be prohibited from
bringing a civil action . . . for the reason that the
prisoner has no assets and no means by which to pay the
initial partial filing fee.” 28 U.S.C.
§1915(b)(4). The court will require the
plaintiff to pay the entire $350 fee over time. Because it
appears that the plaintiff is now out of custody, however,
the court cannot direct the institution to collect the filing
fee according to 28 U.S.C. §1915(b)(2). The court will
require the plaintiff to make payments to the court as he is
Screening the Plaintiff's Complaint
plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis
(i.e., without prepaying the full filing fee), the
law requires a court to dismiss the case if the court
determines that the case is frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted or seeks relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
state a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, “that is plausible on its
face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility
when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows a court
to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The court will give a
pro se plaintiff's 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)).
court can most easily describe the allegations in the
plaintiff's complaint in the context of several other
cases he filed in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. In
November 2016, the plaintiff filed three cases that were
assigned to United States District Judge Stadtmueller.
See Case Nos. 16-cv-1486, 16-cv-1499, 16-cv-1557
(E.D. Wis.). Judge Stadtmueller dismissed all three cases in
a single order entered January 27, 2017. Id. The
order stated that, while the judge had given the plaintiff
“multiple opportunities” to follow the
“appropriate procedures for demonstrating to the Court
that he was indigent, ” the plaintiff had not done so.
See, e.g., Vaughn v. Litscher, et al.,
16-cv-1486-jps (E.D. Wis.) at dkt. no. 1, p. 2. Because the
plaintiff hadn't followed the appropriate procedures,
Judge Stadtmueller had ordered him to pay the filing fees by
a date certain, but the plaintiff had not done that, either.
Id. For these reasons, Judge Stadtmueller dismissed
the cases without prejudice. Id.
February 3, 2017, the plaintiff filed a new case that named
Judge Stadmueller as a defendant. See Vaughn v.
Stadtmueller, Case No. 17-cv-164-WCG (E.D. Wis.), dkt.
no. 1. The plaintiff alleged that, in dismissing his three
cases, Judge Stadtmueller had violated his civil rights under
§1983, had conspired against him, and had acted in an
arbitrary and capricious manner. Id. at 4. In
addition to monetary damages, the plaintiff requested
reinstatement of the three prior cases. Id. This
case was assigned to United States District Judge William C.
Griesbach. Judge Griesbach waived the initial partial filing
fee and granted the plaintiff's motion for leave to
proceed without prepaying the fee. Id. at Dkt. No.
9. He found, however, that the plaintiff had not stated a
claim against Judge Stadtmueller, because the law says that a
judge is immune from being sued based on rulings that he
issues in the scope of his judicial capacity. Id. at
dkt. 9, p. 3 (citing Dawson v. Newman, 491 F.3d 656, 660-661
(7th Cir. 2005)). Judge Griesbach dismissed the complaint
against Judge Stadtmueller with prejudice and assessed the
$350 filing fee. Id.
two weeks later, the plaintiff filed the complaint in this
case, naming Judge Stadtmueller and Judge Griesbach as the
two defendants. Dkt. No. 1. Once again, the plaintiff seeks
damages and reinstatement of the three cases Judge
Stadtmueller dismissed. Id. at 4. He explains that,
in the three cases Judge Stadtmueller dismissed, he had
provided the court with all the documents he was able to
obtain, but that he wasn't able to walk to the inmate
trust account specialist's office, and that the
institution would not give him the documents without charging
him for them (and he could not pay). Id. at 3. He
alleges that the trust account people in the institution
business office lied, and failed to provide the documents he
needed. Id. at 4. He asserts that Judge Griesbach
helped Judge Stadtmueller violate his rights. Id. at
plaintiff attached to the complaint in this case twenty-seven
pages of documents. Dkt. No. 1-1. These documents show that
he applied for a legal loan to try to pay the filing fee, and
that he made numerous disbursement requests to ask for money
to pay the filing fee.
court notes that the approach the plaintiff has taken to
pursue the claims in the three cases Judge Stadtmueller
dismissed is not helping him. Judge Stadtmueller dismissed
those three cases “without prejudice”-that means
that the plaintiff is free to file the cases again. To do
that, he needs only to file new complaints; the clerk's
office will file new cases when it receives those new
complaints. Because the plaintiff paid nothing toward the
filing fees in those three cases (and there is no court order
requiring him to pay the filing fees), starting over should
not create any financial hardship for him. Then, in the new
cases, he can file motions to proceed without prepaying the
filing fee. He can provide the clerk's office with his
inmate trust account statement for the six-month ...