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McDonald v. Kenosha County Correctional Health Services

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

March 14, 2018



          WILLIAM E. DUFFIN, U.S. Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff James McDonald, who is representing himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his constitutional rights are being violated, along with a motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee. This order resolves McDonald's motion and screens his complaint.

         Motion for Leave to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) gives courts discretion to allow prisoners to proceed with their cases without prepaying the $350 filing fee, as long as they comply with certain requirements. 28 U.S.C. § 1915. One of those requirements is that they pay an initial partial filing fee. On February 8, 2018, the court waived McDonald's obligation to pay an initial partial filing fee because he has neither the assets nor the means to do so. The court gave him until March 2, 2018, to notify it if he would like to voluntarily dismiss this case to avoid the possibility of incurring a strike under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). From McDonald's silence, the court infers that he would like to proceed with this case. Accordingly, the court will grant McDonald's motion to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee. He must pay the $350 filing fee over time in the manner explained at the end of this order.

         Screening of the Complaint

         The court is required 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 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         To state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, a 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). To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 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. Village of North 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 a 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)).

         The Complaint's Allegations

         McDonald alleges that he has been incarcerated at the Kenosha County Jail since August 20, 2017. (ECF No. 1 at 2.) Since then, he has written numerous sick call slips and has been seen by members of the nursing staff, including Nurse Samantha, Health Services Director Denise, and others. McDonald alleges that he has been plagued with a sinus infection, severe sneezing, itching, and other problems. McDonald states that he has been given Zyrtec and another unidentified medication, neither of which has helped. McDonald has also sought replacement parts for his CPAP machine, which he brought to the jail. McDonald complains that he is indigent and unable to purchase the replacement parts himself.

         McDonald also alleges that he has been charged nearly $230 for heart medications. He asserts that no one will schedule him an appointment with an outside doctor to determine why he is suffering from sinus issues. McDonald states that people talk to him like he is not a person and lie to him. According to McDonald, defendant Nurse Samantha instructed him to purchase medication at the commissary, which she knows he cannot afford to do.

         The Court's Analysis

         Prison officials violate the Constitution's “proscription against cruel and unusual punishment when their conduct demonstrates ʹdeliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners.ʹʺ Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1369 (7th Cir. 1997). This standard contains both an objective element (that the medical needs be sufficiently serious) and a subjective element (that the officials act with a sufficiently culpable state of mind). Id.

         McDonald states a deliberate indifference claim against Director Denise and Nurse Samantha based on his allegations that they have failed to adequately treat his repeated complaints of sneezing, itching, and other sinus discomfort and have refused to replace parts for or sanitize his CPAP machine. See Kelley v. McGinnis, 899 F.2d 612, 616-17 (7th Cir. 1990) (per curium) (prisoner could prevail on Eighth Amendment ...

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