United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
MICHAEL J. DETTLAFF, Plaintiff,
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE.
18, 2017, the court granted pro se plaintiff Michael
J. Dettlaff leave to proceed on claims under the Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendments against defendants Paquine, Wayne and
Skim for requiring him to sleep on the floor of a cold cell,
as well as a First Amendment claim against defendant Bailey
for delaying the delivery of legal mail. At the same time,
plaintiff was denied leave to proceed on an additional Eighth
Amendment conditions of confinement claim related to his cell
because he failed to name any individual defendants who were
aware of, but failed to correct, the conditions in his cell.
Plaintiff has since filed an amended complaint, which is
before the court for screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A, along with plaintiff's two pending motions for
assistance in recruiting counsel. (Dkt. ##32, 42.) For the
reasons that follow, the court will grant plaintiff leave to
proceed against additional defendants, but deny his motions
for assistance in recruiting counsel.
Screening of Amended Complaint (dkt. ##33, 38)
amended complaint, Dettlaff proposes three substantive
changes, which the court will address in turn.
paragraph 8, Dettlaff seeks to substitute defendant Gary
Boughton for defendant John Paquin. Dettlaff explains that he
was mistaken in initially alleging that Paquin was the warden
of Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution
(“PDCI”) during the relevant time period. After
discovery revealed that Boughton was the warden, and that he
was the one who denied Dettlaff's appeal of his conduct
report disposition, thus affirming his charge and punishment,
he now seeks this change. For the reasons already explained
in the court's initial leave to proceed order, Dettlaff
will be granted leave to proceed against Boughton on his
Fourteenth and Eighth Amendment claims, and Paquin will be
dismissed from this lawsuit.
New paragraph 11
leave to proceed order, the court denied Dettlaff leave to
proceed on an Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement
claim related to allegations that between November 1, 2010,
and January 4, 2011, he was housed in a cold cell with
another inmate, lacked adequate clothing and bedding, and was
forced to sleep on a concrete floor, having failed to
identify any defendant who was aware of these
conditions and failed to take steps to address them. Now, in
his first amended complaint, Dettlaff adds a new paragraph
11, which names, as additional defendants, the supervisory
staff of the segregations units between November 1, 2010, and
January 4, 2011: Tonja Hesselberg, Mark Kartman, Gerald
Anderson, Denny Reger, Togerson, Wade, Krachey, Russel
Bausch, and Kulmin. Detlaff states that these staff members
were all scheduled to supervise his unit between November 1,
2010, and January 4, 2011, and thus were obliged to transfer
him to an unoccupied individual cell but failed to do so.
Given the court is obligated to view all of Dettlaff's
allegations in his favor at screening, Perez v.
Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768, 774 (7th Cir. 2015), I will
grant Dettlaff leave to proceed on a conditions of
confinement claim against these defendants.
Dettlaff fails to allege that any of these defendants
actually saw that he was sleeping on concrete or
that an unoccupied cell was, in fact, available between
November 1 and January 4, he does allege that each of these
individuals were scheduled to work as a supervisor in the
segregation unit during this time period. Thus, at this
stage, it is reasonable to infer that each of these
individuals witnessed (or should have witnessed) the
conditions of Dettlaff's segregation cell that required
him to sleep on a concrete floor, as well as the fact that
Dettlaff remained in those conditions, which further supports
an inference that none of them took any steps to change those
conditions. Accordingly, I will grant him leave to proceed
against these defendants.
said, as Dettlaff proceeds with his claim, he should be aware
his obligation to prove each of these defendants
individual indifference, which will be much more
difficult than his obligation to state a claim against them.
Indeed, he will be required to submit proof that each of
these individuals actually were aware of: his
sleeping arrangements; lack of recreation, proper clothing
and bedding; and the strobe-like lighting. He will also have
to prove each individual failed to take reasonable steps to
address those issues.
Additional legal mail defendant
Dettlaff seeks to add David Bowen as a defendant to his First
Amendment claim, alleging that he worked in the mail room and
involved in the protracted delay in providing Dettlaff's
legal mail. (Id. ¶ 22.) Dettlaff specifically
alleges that Bowen handed him his legal mail after he was
released from solitary confinement, and the property receipt
included both Bowen's signature and the date the mail was
delivered to PDCI, which was two months before Dettlaff
received it. As these allegations permit the inference that
Bowen received Dettlaff's legal mail, but failed to take
steps to ensure he received it timely, the court will permit
him leave to proceed against Bowen as well.
Motions for assistance in recruiting counsel (dkt. ##32,
also renewed his request for assistance in recruiting counsel
in two motions, stating that: he is indigent; his
imprisonment limits his ability to litigate this case; he
lacks legal expertise; and this case requires expert
testimony and locating witnesses. As an initial matter,
before a district court can consider a request for counsel,
it must find that the plaintiff (1) made reasonable efforts
to find a lawyer on his own and was unsuccessful or
(2) was prevented from making such efforts. Jackson v.
County of McLean, 953 F.2d 1070 (7th Cir. 1992). To
prove that he has made reasonable efforts to find a lawyer,
Dettlaff must give the ...