United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
EZRA R.E. FRENCH, Plaintiff,
WARDEN SCOTT ECKSTEIN, et al., Defendants.
WILLIAM C. GRIESBACH, CHIEF JUDGE
plaintiff, who is currently serving a state prison sentence
at Green Bay Correctional Institution (GBCI) and representing
himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that his civil rights were violated. This matter
comes before the court on Plaintiff's motion for leave to
proceed without prepaying the full filing fee. ECF No. 2.
to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee
is required to pay the $350.00 statutory filing fee for this
action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). If a
prisoner does not have the money to pay the filing fee, he
can request leave to proceed without prepayment of the full
filing fee. Plaintiff has filed a certified copy of his
prison trust account statement for the six-month period
immediately preceding the filing of his complaint, as
required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2), and has been
assessed and paid an initial partial filing fee of $9.21.
Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying
the filing fee will be granted.
of the Complaint
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). A claim 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); Hutchinson ex
rel. Baker v. Spink, 126 F.3d 895, 900 (7th Cir. 1997).
state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading
system, the 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). The
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter “that
is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The court accepts
the factual allegations as true and liberally construes them
in the plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729
F.3d 645, 651 (7th Cir. 2013). Nevertheless, the
complaint's allegations “must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).
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complaint arises out of an incident that allegedly occurred
in the yard at GBCI on December 21, 2017. He alleges that
while he was working on the yard crew that day, Defendant
Princl, a correctional officer, told Plaintiff and another
inmate to jump into a recycling bin to smash down piles of
cardboard. A third inmate allegedly reminded Princl that
inmates were not permitted to be inside the recycling bin,
but Plaintiff alleges that Princl nonetheless goaded them,
saying an inmate on a different shift would have finished the
task already. Plaintiff alleges that he and another inmate
then got into the recycling bin and did as they were told.
According to Plaintiff, while subsequently climbing out of
the recycling bin, he fell and landed on his back. He alleges
that he immediately asked for medical attention and was taken
to the Health Services Unit, where he received an x-ray,
ibuprofen, and four days off of work.
alleges that on December 31, 2017, he wrote to Defendant
DeGroot, the inmate complaint examiner, to ask for a copy of
the incident report. DeGroot replied on January 2, 2018,
saying that no incident report was written. However,
Plaintiff also makes a contradictory allegation that DeGroot
told him that an incident report was filled out. Plaintiff
further alleges that DeGroot told him “that it's
reduced to one person[']s word against another.”
ECF No. 1 at 3. Finally, Plaintiff concludes by alleging that
he experiences constant pain and suffering and has received
minimal medical attention since his fall.
Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual
punishments” and imposes a duty on prison officials to
take reasonable measures to ensure that inmates receive
adequate medical care. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
823, 832 (1994). Prison officials violate the Constitution if
they are deliberately indifferent to a prisoner's serious
medical needs. Id. (citing Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103 (1976)). To state a claim based
on deficient medical care, a plaintiff must allege that he
had an objectively serious medical condition and that the
defendants were subjectively aware of and consciously
disregarded that condition. Id. at 837. A medical
need is considered sufficiently serious if the inmate's
condition “has been diagnosed by a physician as
mandating treatment or . . . is so obvious that even a lay
person would perceive the need for a doctor's
attention.” Roe v. Elyea, 631 F.3d 843, 857
(7th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted). A plaintiff may sustain
an Eighth Amendment claim for deliberate indifference based
on “a few days' delay in addressing a severely
painful but readily treatable condition.” Smith v.
Knox Cty. Jail, 666 F.3d 1037, 1040 (7th Cir. 2012).
this standard, Plaintiff fails to state a claim against
either defendant named in the body of the complaint. With
regard to Defendant Princl, Plaintiff alleges that Princl
directed him to jump into the recycling bin and was present
when he injured his back, but he also alleges that he
“immediately asked for medical attention and was taken
to H.S.U.” ECF No. 1 at 2. To the extent
Plaintiff's complaint is that Princil directed him to
jump inside the recycling bin, even if it was against
institutional rules, it was not so inherently dangerous as to
give rise to an Eighth Amendment claim. Moreover, as the
correctional officer apparently in charge of supervising
Plaintiff, Princl was, presumably, involved in arranging for
Plaintiff to receive the alleged immediate medical attention
after his fall. Because Princl did not subject Plaintiff to
an unreasonable risk of harm and apparently acted to the
extent possible within his capabilities in the face of
Plaintiff's medical needs, his conduct reflects not
disregard but clear regard for Plaintiff's condition and
therefore is not actionable. Turning to Defendant DeGroot,
Plaintiff's only allegation is that DeGroot responded to
Plaintiff's request for information in DeGroot's
capacity as inmate complaint examiner. Id. at 3.
This response occurred within two days of Plaintiff's
request. These allegations fail to indicate how DeGroot's
actions violated Plaintiff's rights and what injury or
damage DeGroot's actions allegedly caused him.
the complaint names Warden Scott Eckstein as a defendant but
makes no personal allegations against him in the body of the
complaint. The doctrine of respondeat superior does not apply
to claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, meaning an individual
cannot be held liable merely because he is the supervisor of
someone who engaged in unconstitutional conduct. See
Perkins v. Lawson, 312 F.3d 872, 875 (7th Cir. 2002).
Here, Plaintiff fails to state a claim against Eckstein
because he fails to allege that Eckstein violated his
constitutional rights individually, and Eckstein could not be
held liable for any allegedly unconstitutional conduct by the
other defendants. Accordingly, Plaintiff has provided no
arguable basis for relief, having failed to make any rational
argument in law or fact ...