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Jackson v. Kowalczyk

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 13, 2018

DEBRADRE D. JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL KOWALCZYK, and LT. LAUNDERVILLE, Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF THE FILING FEE (DKT. NO. 4) AND SCREENING THE COMPLAINT (DKT. NO. 1)

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The plaintiff, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing himself, filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights at the Racine Correctional Institution. Dkt. No. 1. This order resolves the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee, dkt. no. 4, and screens the plaintiff's complaint.

         I. MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF THE FILING FEE (DKT. NO. 4)

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act applies to this case, because the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed his complaint. 28 U.S.C. §1915. The law gives an incarcerated plaintiff the ability to proceed with his lawsuit without pre-paying the civil filing fee, as long as he meets certain conditions. Id. One of those conditions is a requirement that the plaintiff pay an initial partial filing fee. 28 U.S.C. §1915(b). Once the plaintiff pays the initial partial filing fee, the court may allow the plaintiff to pay the balance of the $350 filing fee over time, through deductions from his prisoner account. Id.

         On July 11, 2017, the court assessed an initial partial filing fee of $2.43. Dkt. No. 6. The court received a payment of $2.50 on July 19, 2017. Therefore, the court will grant the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filling fee and will allow the plaintiff to pay the balance of the $350.00 filing fee over time from his prisoner account, as described at the end of this order.

         II. SCREENING OF THE PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

         A. Standard for Screening Complaints

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act requires federal courts 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 may dismiss a case, or part of it, if the claims alleged are “frivolous or malicious, ” fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B).

         To state a claim under the federal notice pleading system, the 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). The complaint need not plead specific facts, and need only provide “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)). “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).

         The factual content of the complaint must allow the court to “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. allegations must “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations, when accepted as true, must state a claim that is “plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Federal courts follow the two-step analysis in Twombly to determine whether a complaint states a claim. Id. at 679. First, the court determines whether the plaintiff's legal conclusions are supported by factual allegations. Id. Legal conclusions not supported by facts “are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. Second, the court determines whether the well-pleaded factual allegations “plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id. The court gives pro se allegations, “however inartfully pleaded, ” a liberal construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         B. Facts Alleged in the Complaint

         The plaintiff alleges that on April 15, 2017, he was in Green Unit West, cell A206. Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 6. He was walking from that location to the restricted housing unit at Waukesha West; he was in handcuffs. Id. at ¶6. Correctional Officer Mays (not a defendant) was on his left side, holding his left arm, id. at ¶7; defendant Kowalczyk was on his right, holding him by his right arm and hand, id. at ¶8. Defendant Launderville was walking behind the three men. Id. at ¶9. As the plaintiff approached the top of the metal stairs, he slowed to take the first step down. Id. at ¶10. He alleges that Kowalczyk aggressively bent his hand, and yelled, “keep it moving.” Id. at ¶11. The plaintiff fell down a couple of steps; the plaintiff alleges that it was Kowalczyk's bending of his hand that caused him to fall. Id. at ¶¶12-13. Mays helped the plaintiff back to his feet. Id. at ¶14. The plaintiff turned back to ask Kowalczyk “what his problem was;” Kowalczyk again told the plaintiff in an aggressive tone to turn around and keep moving. Id. at ¶15. Kowalczyk again “yanked on [the plaintiff's] arm and bent [the plaintiff's] hand, ” causing him to fall down about twelve more of the metal stairs-all while his hands were cuffed behind his back. Id. at ¶16. The plaintiff landed on his stomach; Mays landed on top of the plaintiff. Id. at ¶17. The plaintiff says that he yelled out in pain, and yelled that he couldn't feel his legs and that his neck and back hurt. Id. at ¶18. Mays and Kowalczyk attempted to get the plaintiff back on his feet, but the plaintiff says that his legs were numb, and that he couldn't stand. Id. at ¶19. The plaintiff then says that he was shackled at his feet-he doesn't say by whom-and given a wheel chair, in which he rolled to Waukesha West Unit. Id. at ¶20.

         The plaintiff says that he asked for medical assistance, but that defendant Launderville denied him his request. Id. at ΒΆ21. The plaintiff continued to ask for assistance, but ...


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