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Locke v. Schmidt

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

May 2, 2018

ADAM A. LOCKE, Plaintiff,
RICHARD SCHMIDT, Milwaukee County Sheriff, et al., Defendants.



         Order The plaintiff, who is currently a pretrial detainee at Milwaukee County Jail 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.

         Motion to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee

         Plaintiff is required to pay the $400.00 filing fee for this action, which includes the $350.00 statutory filing fee and a $50.00 administrative fee. 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, or in forma pauperis. In that case, the prisoner plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis is required to pay the full amount of the $350.00 statutory filing fee, not the $50.00 administrative fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). 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 $38. Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee will be granted.

         Screening of the Complaint

         The 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).

         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). 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).

         Allegations of the Complaint

         Plaintiff brings three different allegations during the complaint, all of which pertain to the conditions of his confinement at the Milwaukee County Jail. First, he complains that the heating and ventilation systems are malfunctioning in the unit where he is confined, which is causing “hazardous heat” in cell and has resulted in dehydration and physical injuries, like dizziness, nausea, and fainting. He alleges he has complained to every officer on every shift. Specifically, he alleges that Captain Jubilee, Officer Newman, and Officer Turner have all investigated the heating problem, remarked about the cell's heat, and requested maintenance to be sent to fix the problems, but that nothing has changed. Plaintiff alleges that Sheriff Schmidt, Captain Dubson, and Captain Dittberner were placed on notice of the heating and ventilation problems by himself, his grievances, and by staff members who relayed concerns about the systems and nothing has been done. He alleges the extreme heat has caused him physical problems, including dehydration, nausea, and fainting. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that although he has been moved to two different cells, all of his cells have suffered from the same heating an ventilation problems.

         Plaintiff brings two other claims. First, he alleges the laundry procedures are insufficient because he only receives clean clothes on Wednesdays and Fridays. Accordingly, inmates have to wear the same clothes from Friday to Wednesday, which he dislikes because the cell's heat and playing basketball during recreational time leave him and other inmates sweaty. He also alleges that sometimes he does not receive a full set of clean clothes, which results in him wearing the same socks, underwear, or smocks for a week. Lastly, he alleges inmates caught with extra laundry or washing the laundry in their sink face disciplinary consequences.

         Plaintiff's final claim pertains to Milwaukee County Jail's law library, which Plaintiff feels is inadequate because it does not have computers or access to legal research databases. Instead, the law library has books and someone who will copy relevant statutes and cases for inmates. Plaintiff alleges this is insufficient because the books are old and missing pages.

         The Court's Analysis

         I. Heating and Ventilation Systems

         The Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment” of a prisoner. U.S. Const. amend. VIII. “In order to violate the Eighth Amendment, the condition of confinement must be a denial of ‘basic human needs' or the ‘minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.'” Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1427 (7th Cir. 1996) (citing Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981)). Additionally, the “infliction must be deliberate or otherwise reckless in the criminal law sense, which means that the defendant must have committed an act so dangerous that his knowledge of the risk can be inferred or that the defendant actually knew of an impending harm easily preventable.” Id. (citations omitted). Furthermore, the Due Process Clause prohibits any kind of punishment of a pretrial detainee, [1] not simply cruel and unusual punishment. Id. (citations omitted). “A ...

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