United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
BRIAN A. MAUS, Plaintiff,
MICHAEL BAENEN, PETE ERICKSON, SARAH COOPER, SCHULTZ, LESATZ, CAPTAIN BRANT, CAPTAIN STEVENS, LT. SWIEKATOWSKI, SGT. SEGERSTORM, LADE, MICHAEL MOHR, KATHY FRANCOIS, WELCOME ROSE, CHARLES FACKTOR, CHARLES COLE, CINDY O'DONNELL, OBERHOFER, HEIL, JESSICA BONDER, and SCOTT WALKER, Defendants.
DECISION AND ORDER REQUIRING PLAINTIFF TO FILE A
SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT
PAMELA PEPPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff, a state prisoner who is representing himself,
filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that
the defendants violated his constitutional rights. Dkt. No.
1. On December 18, 2017, the plaintiff filed an amended
complaint, which replaced the original complaint. Dkt. No. 7;
See Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 15. Even though the plaintiff
paid the full $400 filing fee, the Prison Litigation Reform
Act (PLRA) requires the court to screen the amended
complaint, because the plaintiff is a prisoner seeking relief
against employees of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C.
FEDERAL SCREENING STANDARD
court must dismiss a complaint if a plaintiff raises 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).
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). 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)
state a claim under the federal notice pleading system, a
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). A plaintiff does not need to plead
every fact supporting his claims; he only has to “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)). That said, a complaint
that offers only “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). Rather, 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 allegations
“must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555
proceed under 42 U.S.C. §1983, a plaintiff must allege
facts sufficient to support the inference that: 1) he was
deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States; and 2) the defendant was 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 gives 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)).
SCREENING OF THE PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED COMPLAINT
noted above, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) states that a complaint
“must contain . . . a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
There is a reason that the rule specifies a “short
and plain” statement. “Rule 8(a) requires
parties to make their pleadings straightforward, so that
judges and adverse parties need not try to fish a gold coin
from a bucket of mud.” U.S. ex rel. Garst v.
Lockheed-Martin Corp., 328 F.3d 374, 378 (7th Cir.
2003). The plaintiff cannot leave the court “to guess
what claims [he] intends to assert against which
defendants.” Dunigan v. St. Clair Cnty. Jail Med.
Staff, No. 15-CV-487, 2015 WL 2455505, *2 (S.D. Ill. May
22, 2015). “[L]ength may make a complaint
unintelligible, by scattering and concealing in a morass of
irrelevancies the few allegations that matter.”
Kadamovas v. Stevens, 706 F.3d 843, 844 (7th Cir.
2013) (quoting Garst, 328 F.3d at 378).
“District judges are busy, and therefore have a right
to dismiss a complaint that is so long that it imposes an
undue burden on the judge, to the prejudice of other
litigants seeking the judge's attention.”
case, the plaintiff's amended complaint consists of
twenty handwritten pages with more than 100 paragraphs of
factual and legal assertions. Dkt. No. 7. As the Seventh
Circuit indicated in Kadamovas, if the plaintiff has
included any factual allegations that have merit, they are
buried in pages and pages of conclusions, allegations and
excessive and unnecessary detail.
only is the complaint long and wordy, but, as best the court
can tell, it appears to contain allegations of different
kinds of injuries allegedly committed by different groups of
defendants over the span of more than two years. The
plaintiff appears to allege, for example, that a correctional
officer sexually assaulted him during multiple searches; that
other correctional officers stole property from his cell and
retaliated against him by placing him in segregation; and
that another correctional officer retaliated against him
after he threatened to sue her.
Civ. P. 18(a) allows a plaintiff to “put in one
complaint every claim of any kind against a single defendant,
” but a plaintiff may “present claim #1 against
Defendant A, and claim #2 against Defendant B, only if both
claims arise ‘out of the same transaction, occurrence,
or series of transactions or occurrences.' Rule
20(a)(2)(A).” Wheeler v. Wexford Health Sources,
Inc., 689 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2012). Fed.R.Civ.P.
20(a)(2)(B) states that individuals may be joined in a case
as defendants only if there are questions of law or fact
common to “all” defendants. In other words,
“[a] litigant cannot throw all of his grievances,
against dozens of different parties, into one stewpot.”
Id. (citing George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605
(7th Cir. 2007)).
plaintiff appears to have done what the Seventh Circuit, and
Rules 18 and 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
state that he cannot do. He has sued twenty different
individuals relating to a number of different incidents and
allegations. The one thing that all of these individuals have
in common is that the plaintiff came into contact with them
as a result of his incarceration. That is not a sufficient
basis for the court to conclude that his claims are all
related or that there are questions of law and fact common to
all of the defendants.
this case goes any further, the court will require the
plaintiff to file a second amended complaint that complies
with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, 18 and 20. The amended complaint must
provide a “simple, concise, and direct” statement
of his claims. Bennett v. Schmidt,153 F.3d 516, 518
(7th Cir. 1998). The plaintiff should “avoid a
rambling, incoherent complaint.” Ford v.
Flannery, No. 2-07-CV-267, 2008 WL 821686, *2 (N.D. Ind.
March 26, 2008). The plaintiff does not need to include every
detail giving rise to his claim(s); he needs to provide only
enough facts that the court can reasonably infer that the
defendants did what the plaintiff alleges they did. The
plaintiff must be careful to choose from among his many
claims only those claims that are related to one another and
that arise out of the same underlying circumstances or
events. For example, if he chooses to file a complaint
alleging that certain defendants violated his right to file a
grievance, he should include in that complaint only the facts
relating to the grievance process, and ...