United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
MARIO F. BROWN, JR., Plaintiff,
AGENT KEITH LUCAS, et al., Defendants.
WILLIAM C. GRIESBACH, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT
plaintiff, who is currently serving a state prison sentence
at Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI) 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 $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. In that case, the prisoner plaintiff
proceeding in forma pauperis is required to pay the
full amount of the $350.00 statutory filing fee but 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 $1.70.
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).
OF THE COMPLAINT
alleges that Defendant Keith Lucas violated his rights by
making false statements about him at his revocation hearing.
He alleges that this has caused him emotional distress and
defamed his character. According to Plaintiff, he filed a
complaint with Defendant David Melby, Lucas' supervisor,
but Melby said there was nothing he could do about
Plaintiff's emotional distress and Plaintiff should
instead think about the fact that he killed someone.
Plaintiff alleges that he has nightmares and suffers from
depression because of Lucas' and Melby's actions.
state a claim for relief 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 deprivation was visited upon him by a person or
persons acting under color of state law.”
Buchanan-Moore v. Cty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824,
827 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Kramer v. Vill. of N. Fond du
Lac, 384 F.3d 856, 861 (7th Cir. 2004)). Plaintiff's
complaint is not clear in stating the manner in which he was
deprived of rights secured by either federal law or the
Constitution. He alleges that he has suffered both emotional
distress and defamation of character. Although “mental
and emotional distress caused by the denial of procedural due
process itself is compensable under § 1983, ”
Carey v. Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 264 (1978), a common
law cause of action for infliction of emotional distress
arises under state law and therefore cannot, alone, support a
claim under § 1983. Likewise, an allegation of mere
defamation, standing alone as Plaintiff seems to allege, is
not sufficient to state a claim under § 1983. Paul
v. Davis, 424 U.S. 693, 694 (1976). Because the
allegations of infliction of emotional distress and
defamation are the only claims against Melby, Plaintiff has
failed to state a claim for relief against him.
regard to Lucas, Plaintiff makes the additional allegation
that he made false statements at Plaintiff's revocation
hearing. Witnesses testifying at trial and before grand
juries enjoy absolute immunity from suit. See Rehberg v.
Paulk, 566 U.S. 356, 366-68 (2012) (citing Briscoe
v. LaHue, 460 U.S. 325 (1983)). Immunity for witnesses
is a product of the “functional approach” to
applying absolute immunity, in which courts “consult
the common law to identify those governmental functions that
were historically viewed as so important and vulnerable to
interference by means of litigation that some form of
absolute immunity from civil liability was needed to ensure
that they are performed ‘“with independence and
without fear of consequences.”'” Id.
at 363 (quoting Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 554
(1967)). Absolute immunity enhances the truth-seeking
function of legal proceedings because, without it,
“witnesses ‘might be reluctant to come forward to
testify, ' and even if a witness took the stand, the
witness ‘might be inclined to shade his testimony in
favor of the potential plaintiff' for ‘fear of
subsequent liability.'” Id. at 367
(quoting Briscoe, 460 U.S. at 333). Because these
reasons for extending immunity to witnesses apply with equal
weight to witnesses testifying at a revocation hearing, as
Lucas allegedly did here, Lucas is immune from liability for
his testimony, and Plaintiff has failed to state a claim
Plaintiff has provided no arguable basis for relief, having
failed to make any rational argument in law or fact to
support his claims. See House v. Belford, 956 F.2d
711, 720 (7th Cir. 1992) (quoting Williams v.
Faulkner, 837 F.2d 304, 308 (7th Cir. 1988),
aff'd sub nom. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319
(1989)). His claims against Lucas and Melby will therefore be
IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the plaintiff's motion
for leave to proceed in forma ...