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Barfell v. Correctional Health Care Companies

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

April 16, 2018

THOMAS H. L. BARFELL, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Thomas H. L. Barfell, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants violated his civil rights. On December 18, 2017, Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin screened the complaint and ordered plaintiff to file an amended complaint if he wanted to proceed with this lawsuit. (Docket #8). Among other things, Magistrate Duffin noted that Plaintiff appeared to be attempting to join many different unrelated claims against different unrelated parties in the same lawsuit, in violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a). Id. at 8.

         Plaintiff filed an amended complaint in this case on January 9, 2018. (Docket #10). He also filed two additional lawsuits, Barfell v. Aramark, Case No. 17-CV-1567-WED-JPS (E.D. Wis.), and Barfell v. Prekop, Case No. 17-CV-1739-WED-JPS (E.D. Wis.). Plaintiff then filed a motion to consolidate the cases, which Magistrate Duffin denied for the reasons explained in his screening order-namely, that doing so would violate Rule 20(a). (Docket #13, #15). The magistrate told Plaintiff to notify the court by March 16, 2018 if he wanted to voluntarily dismiss any of his lawsuits. (Docket #15).

         Plaintiff did not voluntarily dismiss this lawsuit. Further, not all parties have had the opportunity to fully consent to magistrate judge jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Therefore, this matter is before this branch of the Court for the limited purpose of screening the amended complaint, (Docket #10), and resolving pending motions, (Docket #7, #14).

         1. Screening the Amended Complaint

         1.1 Applicable Law

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. Id. § 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. Id. § 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); Gladney v. Pendelton Corr. Facility, 302 F.3d 773, 774 (7th Cir. 2002). 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; Gladney, 302 F.3d at 774. “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 (7th Cir. 2003); Paul v. Marberry, 658 F.3d 702, 705 (7th Cir. 2011).

         To 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). It is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead specific facts; his statement need only “‘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)); Christopher v. Buss, 384 F.3d 879, 881 (7th Cir. 2004). However, a complaint that offers “‘labels and conclusions'” or “‘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). To state a claim, 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. The complaint allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Christopher, 384 F.3d at 881.

         In considering whether a complaint states a claim, courts should first “identif[y] pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations. Id. If there are well-pleaded factual allegations, the Court must “assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id. The Court is obliged to give 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)).

         1.2 Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is an inmate at the Winnebago County Jail (“WCJ”). Defendants are: Correctional Health Care Companies (“CHCC”), WCJ, Nurse Katrina, Sergeant Makurat, Sergeant Durrant, Sergeant Manthey, John Matz, Dr. Anuigo, and CPI Tuttle.

         Plaintiff's amended complaint is difficult to read and repetitive. He explains that he has several medical issues, including: Hepatitis C, cavities in his teeth, severe bodily pain in his face, neck, and stomach, chronic bronchitis/congestion, and vision problems. According to Plaintiff, WCJ has a prison policy not to treat Hepatitis C or to “send out inmates” for dental care. (Docket #10 at 2). Between September 2017 and November 2017, Plaintiff asked correctional officers Durrant, Tuttle, and Manthey for a grievance form to address his medical issues, but they continuously refused to provide one. Plaintiff explains that WCJ has a policy to not provide grievance forms for “issues [that are not] grievable.” Id. at 7.

         During this time, Plaintiff also explained his medical problems to Nurse Katrina and Dr. Anuligo (the Court presumes that Plaintiff's reference to “the doctor” in his allegations is Dr. Anuligo) but they have not resolved the issues. They continue to prescribe pain medication that Plaintiff cannot take with his existing liver issues. Further, Plaintiff's cavities have not been fixed, his congestion issues remain, and he still does not have glasses to fix his vision problem. Nurse Katrina and Dr. Anuligo also have not approved a restriction for extra mattress/pillows for his neck pain. For relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and a change in jail policy.

         1.3 ...

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