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Howard v. Meli

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 18, 2018

JOSHUA HOWARD, Plaintiff,
v.
TONY MELI, JEREMY WESTRA, and CAPTAIN CYNTHIA RADTKE, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST TO WITHDRAW MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER (DKT. NO. 6), DEEMING MOTION FOR RESTRAINING ORDER (DKT. NO. 2) WITHDRAWN AND SCREENING COMPLAINT UNDER 28 U.S.C. §1915A

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Joshua Howard is confined at Green Bay Correctional Institution (GBCI), and is representing himself. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants conspired to have him transferred him to GBCI to punish him for helping another inmate with his civil rights case. Dkt. No. 1. The plaintiff has paid the full filing fee. This order screens the plaintiff's complaint.[1]

         1. 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). A 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, 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). 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 a complaint must allow a 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, a 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, a court determines whether the well-pleaded factual allegations “plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id.

         To state 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). A 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)).

         2. Facts Alleged in the Complaint

         The plaintiff was incarcerated at the Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI) when he filed the complaint, dkt. no. 1 at 1, and now is incarcerated at GBCI, dkt. no. 6. Defendant Tony Meli is the security director at WCI. Dkt. No.1 at 2. Defendants Jeremy Westra and Cynthia Radtke are security captains at WCI. Id.

         The plaintiff describes himself as an “active litigator, ” who has filed several lawsuits against employees of the Department of Corrections, [2] and has helped other inmates to file lawsuits. Id.

         The plaintiff alleges that he has been diagnosed with “Social Anxiety Disorder with Paruresis.” Id. He also alleges that, at an early age, he was diagnosed with Gynephobia and that this diagnosis prevents him from using the bathroom in front of others.[3] Id. at 2-3. In addition, the plaintiff states that he has an irrational fear of taking showers in view of others, even those also taking showers. Id.

         The plaintiff alleges that in 2015, the defendants referred him for a transfer to the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (WSPF) and that he was ultimately “PRC'd”[4] to WSPF. Id. But WCI security staff withdrew the referral to WSPF based on the plaintiff's condition. Id. at 2-3. Staff determined that WSPF was not a suitable prison because the “facilities” there are “open” compared to other maximum security institutions. Id.

         The plaintiff alleges that he has been assisting another inmate with a lawsuit against defendants Meli, Westra, and Radtke. Id. at 3. On June 15, 2017, the defendants answered interrogatories that the plaintiff had drafted for the inmate's case. Id. The following week, defendant Westra had the plaintiff brought to the security offices at WCI. Id. Westra asked the plaintiff about the other inmate's lawsuit and the plaintiff's relationship with the inmate. Id. Westra also ...


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