United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
SCOTT E. SPATES, Plaintiff,
MARY SAUVEY, LT. VAN GHEEMS, and SGT. KAPHINGST, Defendants.
DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION TO CLARIFY STATUS OF THIS CASE (DKT. NO. 74),
SCREENING AMENDED COMPLAINT (DKT. NO. 37) AND DISMISSING CASE
AGAINST ALL DEFENDANTS
PAMELA PEPPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing
himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983,
alleging that the defendant violated his civil rights. Dkt.
No. 1. The court screened the complaint, and issued an order
allowing the plaintiff to proceed with an Eighth Amendment
claim that defendant Dr. Sauvey refused to send him to the
hospital even though the plaintiff could not walk without
extreme pain. Dkt. No. 15 at 6-7. The defendant answered the
complaint, dkt. no. 21, and on August 9, 2016, the court
issued a scheduling order, dkt. no. 26.
weeks later, on August 22, 2016, the court received from the
plaintiff a motion asking for leave to file an amended
complaint. Dkt. No. 31. The plaintiff explained that in his
complaint, he had named a “John Doe”
defendant. Id. at 1. He told the court that
he'd since learned that the real name of the “John
Doe” defendant was Lieutenant Van Gheems, and he asked
to amend the complaint to add Van Gheems as a defendant.
Id. at 1-2. He also explained that he'd named a
“Jane Doe” defendant in the complaint, and that
he'd since learned that her real name was Sergeant
Kaphingst. Id. at 2. He asked to add Kaphingst as a
defendant. Id. The court granted the motion on
September 1, 2016, and instructed the plaintiff to file the
amended complaint on or before September 30,
2016. Dkt. No. 33.
September 6, 2017-without the plaintiff yet having filed an
amended complaint-defendant Sauvey filed a motion to stay all
deadlines, so that the defendant could file a motion for
summary judgment based on her assertion that the plaintiff
had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Dkt. No.
34. The incidents the plaintiff complained of occurred in
August 2014, and the defendant asserted that the plaintiff
had not filed an offender complaint regarding the incidents
until December 30, 2015, over a year after the deadline by
which to file a complaint had expired. Id. at
¶1. On September 7, 2016, the court granted defendant
Sauvey's motion to stay, and stayed all pending deadlines
(other than the deadline the court set for the defendant to
file her motion for summary judgment based on failure to
exhaust administrative remedies). Dkt. No. 36. The court
concluded that it would be a waste of the parties' time
and resources to require the parties to conduct discovery, if
it was true that the plaintiff had not filed any grievances
regarding the incident for over a year. Dkt. No. 36. The
court did not mention, in its order staying deadlines, the
fact that it had issued an order allowing the plaintiff to
amend his complaint to add the two defendants whose
identities he'd discovered.
later, on September 14, 2016, the plaintiff filed his
proposed amended complaint, naming defendant Sauvey (whom
he'd named in his original complaint), Lieutenant Van
Gheems and Sergeant Kaphingst as defendants. Dkt. No. 37. The
court did not, however, screen the amended complaint; to
date, it hasn't done so, and that error has caused the
current confusion. The court never ordered the amended
complaint served on the two new defendants.
little less than a month later, on October 7, 2016, defendant
Sauvey- and only defendant Sauvey-filed a motion for summary
judgment. Dkt. No. 39. On January 17, 2017, the court granted
that motion, finding that the plaintiff had failed to exhaust
his administrative remedies. Dkt. No. 54. The order granting
summary judgment listed only defendant Sauvey in the caption,
and referred only to one defendant-defendant Sauvey.
Id. The court entered judgment, and dismissed the
entire case, on January 19, 2017; again, the judgment listed
only one defendant-defendant Sauvey. Dkt. No. 55. Again, it
was an error for the court to dismiss the entire
cause. It should have dismissed the case only as to defendant
January 26, 2017, the plaintiff appealed the court's
decision to the Seventh Circuit. Dkt. No. 56; Spates v.
Sauvey, No. 17-1170, Dkt. No. 1 (7th Cir.). The
plaintiff listed only one defendant in his notice of appeal-
defendant Sauvey. Id. The Seventh Circuit's
record for the case named only one defendant on
appeal-defendant Sauvey. See, e.g., Id. at
Dkt. No. 60.
August 29, 2017, defendant Sauvey filed a motion in the
Seventh Circuit to dismiss the appeal. Spates v.
Sauvey, Id. at Dkt. No. 22. The motion alleged
that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals did not have
appellate jurisdiction over the appeal, because this
court's decision dismissing the case was not a final
decision. Id. at 2. Sauvey explained that the
plaintiff had added two defendants to the case, but that the
court had not resolved the claims against those defendants.
Id. at 3. She noted that the amended complaint
remained pending against Van Gheems and Kaphingst.
Id. at 4. Sauvey asked the Seventh Circuit to
dismiss the appeal and remand it to this court for further
proceedings. Id. The plaintiff responded to that
motion, arguing that he thought this court's order
dismissing his case should have “cover[ed] the merits
of the case, ” and that the court's ruling should
have been “dispositive of all other issues.”
Id. at Dkt. No. 24 at 4. After some back and forth
between the plaintiff and the Seventh Circuit, the plaintiff
filed a motion asking the Seventh Circuit to dismiss his
appeal without prejudice. Id. at Dkt. No. 41. He
told the Seventh Circuit that he was making the request
because he realized that this court had not addressed the two
new defendants, and he indicated that he wanted the chance to
appeal whatever decision this court might issue as to all
three defendants. Id. at 3. On March 30, 2018, the
Seventh Circuit granted the plaintiff's motion and
dismissed the appeal. Id. at Dkt. No. 42.
The Plaintiff's Current Motion (Dkt. No. 74)
April 19, 2018, the court received from the plaintiff the
current motion for clarification. Dkt. No. 74. The plaintiff
says that the Seventh Circuit told him that two new
defendants were added to the complaint, and asks why he never
was informed of this fact. Id. at 2. He asks whether
the court ever contacted Van Gheems and Sgt. Kaphingst or
their lawyers. Id. And he asks what the court
expects of him, saying that he is “lost.”
understandable that the plaintiff is lost. This court made
mistakes in processing his case. First, it failed to screen
his amended complaint. The court cannot say for sure why it
failed to screen the complaint; it suspects that it was
distracted by defendant Sauvey's motion for summary
judgment. That is not an excuse, and the failure is the
responsibility of the court.
court's second mistake is that when it granted
Sauvey's motion for summary judgment, the court indicated
that it was dismissing the entire case, forgetting that the
plaintiff had filed an amended complaint naming two other
defendants. The court could not dismiss the entire
complaint without dealing with the plaintiff's proposed
amended complaint, and with the claims he'd alleged
against Van Gheems and Kaphingst, and it had not done that.
plaintiff rightfully asks what he should do now. The answer
is that the plaintiff does not need to do anything. It is the
court's responsibility to do something, something it
should have done months ago-screen the amended complaint
against Van Gheems and Kaphingst.
Screening the Proposed Amended ...