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Deyot v. Taycheedah Correctional Institution

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

March 17, 2018

STEPHANIE ANN DEYOT, Plaintiff,
v.
TAYCHEEDAH CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Lynn Adelman United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Stephanie Deyot is a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing herself. She filed a complaint alleging that the defendant violated her civil rights, a motion seeking leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee, and a motion to appoint counsel. This decision resolves plaintiff's motions and screens her complaint.

         Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act gives courts discretion to allow prisoners to proceed with their lawsuits 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 the prisoner pay an initial partial filing fee. On February 23, 2018, I ordered plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of $12.10. Plaintiff paid that fee on March 5, 2018. Accordingly, I will grant plaintiff's motion to proceed without prepayment of the full filing fee; she must pay the remainder of the filing fee over time as explained at the end of this order.

         Screening of the Complaint

          Federal law requires that I 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). I 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 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).

         To proceed 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 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). I 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)).

         Plaintiff's Complaint

         Plaintiff's complaint is deficient in a number of respects. I will allow her to file an amended complaint to cure the deficiencies, each of which I will explain below.

         First, Taycheedah Correctional Institution is not a proper defendant because it is part of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, which is, in turn, part of the State of Wisconsin. None of those entities is a “person” for purposes of § 1983. See Lapides v. University of Georgia, 535 U.S. 613, 617-18 (2002); Will v. Michigan Department of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989).

         Second, § 1983 “creates a cause of action based on personal liability and predicated upon fault; thus liability does not attach unless the individual defendant caused or participated in a constitutional violation.” Vance v. Peters, 97 F.3d 987, 991 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Sheik-Abdi v. McClellan, 37 F.3d 1240, 1248 (7th Cir. 1994)). In other words, there is no vicarious liability (meaning, no one will be liable for another person's misconduct), and there is no supervisory liability (meaning, a supervisor will not be liable for the misconduct of his or her employees or subordinates).

         Plaintiff's allegations are often vague about who is responsible for the misconduct she alleges. It is insufficient to allege harm by correctional officers, employees, and inmates generally-she must identify the particular correctional officer, employee, or inmate who allegedly violated her rights. If she does not know the name of a person, she may use a John or Jane Doe placeholder in her caption and in her allegations, but I must be able to discern from her allegations who did what.

         Finally, based on my reading of the complaint, it appears that plaintiff is attempting to improperly bring unrelated claims in a single case. Under the controlling principle of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 18(a), “[u]nrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits” so as to prevent prisoners from dodging the fee payment or three ...


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