United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
HALEY N. WEIS, Plaintiff,
JOHN DOE, et al., Defendants.
WILLIAM C. GRIESBACH, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT
Haley N. Weis, who is currently representing herself, filed a
complaint against John Doe defendants, alleging claims of
deliberate indifference and defamation. Weis seeks leave to
proceed without prepayment of the filing fee in this case.
District courts are permitted to screen every complaint,
regardless of a plaintiff's fee status. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B); Hoskins v. Poelstra, 230 F.3d 761,
763 (7th Cir. 2003). In screening a complaint, I must
determine whether it complies with the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure and states at least plausible claims for which
relief may be granted. A complaint, or portion thereof,
should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted if it appears beyond doubt that the
plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claim
that would entitle him to relief. Hishon v. King &
Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984) (citing Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)).
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 and his
statements 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, 355 U.S. at 47).
However, a complaint that offers “labels and
conclusions” or a “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. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The complaint's
allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The court is obliged to give
the plaintiff's pro se allegations, however
inartfully pleaded, a liberal construction. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). With these
standards in mind, I now turn to the allegations of the
March 21, 2018, Weis was admitted to the emergency room at
Theda Care Medical Center in Neenah, Wisconsin due to an
opioid overdose. She received prescriptions for Depakote,
Zyprexa, and Mirtazapine upon discharge to Gateway Community
Living Center in Weyauwega, Wisconsin. Sometime during her
stay at Gateway, Weis began experiencing adverse side effects
from her medications. Gateway staff called an ambulance for
transport to the Riverside Medical Center emergency room in
Waupaca, Wisconsin. EMT Jane Doe made Weis walk to the
ambulance even though Weis had difficulty walking. EMT Jane
Doe and John Doe accused Weis of using illegal narcotics. Due
to the difficult driving conditions caused by a blizzard, a
county plow escorted the ambulance to the hospital.
arrival, RN Jane Doe and Dr. John Doe made indirect
disparaging comments about Weis' previous emergency room
visit. They continually asked Weis if she used illegal
narcotics. Weis claims RN Jane Doe maliciously put an IV into
her arm, causing significant pain. When Weis asked that they
take the IV out, the defendants refused to discontinue
administering liquid Benadryl. She asserts the defendants
refused to hydrate her and only gave her two saltine crackers
to eat, even though the staff had a pizza party in front of
was subsequently discharged from the emergency room. A nurse
called Gateway's transportation service, R/R Transport,
to transport Weis back to Gateway. R/R Transport refused to
pick her up due to the blizzard. Plaintiff asserts the
ambulance workers refused to give her a ride back to Gateway,
and she was forced to walk six blocks from the hospital in
the blizzard to the home of her boyfriend's father to get
a ride. She claims she only wore socks for gloves and a thin
blanket. Weis alleges she ultimately walked at least one mile
to Gateway by herself.
court finds that it has no subject matter jurisdiction over
this action. Subject matter jurisdiction cannot be waived and
may be “raised sua sponte by the court at any
point in the proceedings.” Hawxhurst v. Pettibone
Corp., 40 F.3d 175, 179 (7th Cir. 1994). After reviewing
the complaint, the court finds it does not have subject
matter jurisdiction over this action based on either
diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 or
federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
jurisdiction exists when there is complete diversity of
citizenship among the parties to an action and the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).
Complete diversity of citizenship means that “none of
the parties on either side of the litigation may be a citizen
of the state of which a party on the other side is a
citizen.” Howell v. Tribune Entm't Co.,
106 F.3d 215, 217 (7th Cir. 1997). In this case, complete
diversity does not exist because Weis and the defendants
reside in Wisconsin.
addition, Weis has failed to sufficiently plead a federal
question. For a court to exercise federal question
jurisdiction, a well-pleaded complaint must establish
“that federal law creates the cause of action or that
plaintiff's right to relief necessarily depends on
resolution of a substantial question of federal law.”
Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation
Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1983). Weis asserts the
defendants exhibited deliberate indifference to her serious
medical needs in violation of her constitutional rights.
Section 1983 imposes civil liability on any person who, under
color of state law, “subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction [of the United States] to the
deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured
by the Constitution and laws” of the United States. 42
U.S.C. § 1983. The purpose of § 1983 is “to
provide compensatory relief to those deprived of their
federal rights by state actors.” Felder v.
Casey, 487 U.S. 131, 141 (1988). A private hospital and
its employees are not state actors and thus cannot be named
as defendants in a § 1983 action. See Babchuk v.
Ind. Univ. Health, Inc., 809 F.3d 966 (7th Cir. 2016)
(private hospital not considered state actor under §
1983). Accordingly, Weis has no basis to assert a deliberate
indifference claim against the defendants.
Weis cannot establish a civil rights violation under §
1983 premised upon defamatory statements. Weis does not have
a constitutional right to be free from defamation. See
Paul v. Davis, 424 U.S. 693, 712 (1976) (although a
state may protect against injury to reputation by virtue of
its tort law, a person's reputation does not implicate a
“liberty” or “property” interest of
the sort protected by the Fourteenth Amendment); see also
Bone v. Lafayette, 919 F.2d 64 (7th Cir. 1990). While
relief in federal court is foreclosed to Weis' defamation
claim, she may pursue this claim in state court. In sum,
Weis' complaint must be dismissed for lack of subject
IS THEREFORE ORDERED that this action is dismissed
sua sponte for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Weis' motion for leave
to proceed without prepayment of the ...