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O'Neal v. Conlon

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 11, 2018

ANDRE O'NEAL, Plaintiff,
v.
TOM CONLON, DEON, LAUREL, and PATRICK, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF THE FILING FEE (DKT. NO. 2) AND DISMISSING CASE FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is the second of four cases that the plaintiff (who is representing himself) filed in the Eastern District of Wisconsin a four-week span. Case Nos. 18-cv-536, 18-cv-548, 18-cv-684 and 18-cv-685. He filed this complaint three days after he filed his first complaint; this time he has sued individuals from the U.S. Marshals Service. Dkt. No. 1. In his first complaint, the plaintiff sued the FBI office and a FBI agent because they allegedly refused to help him or investigate his allegations. In this complaint, he has sued the U.S. Marshals Service in Milwaukee, Tom Conlon, “Deon, ” “Laurel” and “Patrick.” Dkt. No. 1 at 2. The plaintiff also asks for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee. Dkt. No. 2. Although the plaintiff has established that he cannot afford the filing fee, the court will dismiss the case for failure to state a claim.

         I. Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed Without Prepayment of the Filing Fee

         The court may allow a litigant to proceed without prepayment of the filing fees if two conditions are met: (1) the litigant is unable to pay the filing fee; and (2) the case is not frivolous nor malicious, does not fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, and does not seek monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§1915(a) and (e)(2).

         A. Plaintiff's Ability to Pay the Filing Fee

         The plaintiff states that he is unemployed, single, and has a fifteen-year-old son for whom he provides no financial support. He reports no monthly income and no expenses, and says that he owns no property of value. It is unlikely that the plaintiff has no expenses-even if he lives with someone who pays the bills, he likely has some obligations. Given the other problems with the case, however, the court will accept the plaintiff's claim that he can't pay the filing fee.

         B. Screening

         1. Legal Standard

         The court must dismiss a complaint if a plaintiff raises 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). The court may 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. “Malicious, ” although sometimes treated as a synonym for “frivolous, ” “is more usefully construed as intended to harass.” Lindell v. McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107, 1109-10 (7th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).

         To state a claim under the federal notice pleading system, a plaintiff must provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A plaintiff does not need to plead every fact supporting his claims; he only has to “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)). That said, a complaint that offers only “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). Rather, 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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The complaint allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).

         2. Facts Alleged in the Plaintiff's Complaint

         As noted above, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) states that a complaint “must contain . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” There is a reason that the rule specifies a “short and plain” statement. “Rule 8(a) requires parties to make their pleadings straightforward, so that judges and adverse parties need not try to fish a gold coin from a bucket of mud.” U.S. ex rel. Garst v. Lockheed-Martin Corp., 328 F.3d 374, 378 (7th Cir. 2003). The plaintiff cannot leave the court “to guess what claims [he] intends to assert against which defendants.” Dunigan v. St. Clair Cty. Jail Med. Staff, No. 15-CV-487, 2015 WL 2455505, *2 (S.D. Ill. May 22, 2015).

         The form the plaintiff used to file his complaint asked him to provide a statement of the claim identifying who violated his rights, what each defendant did, when they did it, where it happened and why ...


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