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Gill v. Brown County Jail

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 15, 2018

CHARLES B. GILL, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
BROWN COUNTY JAIL, HEIDI MICHEL, J. MEKASH, BRIAN MEYERS, IAN HIGGINS, and KAREN KONRAD, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF THE FILING FEE (DKT. NO. 2) AND SCREENING COMPLAINT

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Charles B. Gill, Sr., who was confined at the Brown County Jail during the time of the events he describes in his complaint, is representing himself. He alleges that the defendants did not allow him to exercise his religion correctly, and that they discriminated against him because of his faith. Dkt. No. 1. This order resolves the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee, dkt. no. 2, and screens the plaintiff's complaint.

         I. Motion to Proceed Without Prepaying the Filing Fee (Dkt. No. 2)

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act applies to this case because the plaintiff is incarcerated. 28 U.S.C. §1915. The law provides that a court can allow an incarcerated plaintiff to proceed with his lawsuit without pre-paying the civil case 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.

         The court assessed an initial partial filing fee of $24.51. Dkt. No. 7. The court received $25.00 from the plaintiff on August 22, 2017. 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 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. Indeed, 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.

         To proceed on a claim that his civil rights were violated 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)); see also Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). The court gives pro se allegations, “however inartfully pleaded, ” a liberal construction. See Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         B. Facts Alleged in the Complaint

         The plaintiff is a member of the Muslim faith. Dkt. No. 1 at 3. He alleges that during Ramadan, he was denied the right to practice his religion “correctly.” Id. The plaintiff says that on May 31, 2017, defendant Meyers told him to pray in his cell. The plaintiff says that he has been Muslim for twenty-three years, and that Islamic law forbids a person from praying next to a toilet. Id. at 3-4. The plaintiff tried to tell Meyers this, but Meyers would not listen. Nonetheless, on both May 31 and June 1, 2017, the plaintiff tried to pray in the cell, but he could not do something that he knew was wrong. Id. at 4. On June 2, 3 and 4, ...


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