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Wakefield v. Serrano

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 19, 2018

DANIEL LEE WAKEFIELD, Plaintiff,
v.
TED SERRANO, LT. AMIN, RYAN MCCLAIN, CAPT. GEIRNOFF, STEVEN JOHNSON, and RACINE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION. Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF THE FILING FEE (DKT. NO. 2) 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 and Fourteenth 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. 2, and screens the plaintiff's complaint.

         I. MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF THE FILING FEE (DKT. NO. 2)

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) applies to this case, because the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed his complaint. 28 U.S.C. §1915. The law allows a court to give an incarcerated plaintiff the ability to proceed with his lawsuit without pre-paying the filing fee, as long as he meets certain conditions. Id. One of those conditions is a requirement that the plaintiff must pay an initial partial filing fee. 28 U.S.C. §1915(b). Once the plaintiff pays that 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 26, 2017, the court issued an order, requiring the plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of $17.11. Dkt. No. 6. The court received that fee on September 8, 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 PLRA 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 says that on February 2, 201y, he was put on the segregation unit because he was allegedly involved in an aggravated assault the previous day. Id. at 2. The next day, defendant Serrano questioned the plaintiff about “an assault.” Id. The plaintiff explained that he had nothing to do with any fight, and that Serrano “had the wrong guy.” Id. Serrano responded that the plaintiff would regret not helping himself. Id.

         About a week later, on February 8, 2017, the plaintiff was called to the hearing room “to get an offer on whatever conduct report [Serrano] wrote.” Id. Apparently the conduct report charged the plaintiff with aggravated assault, and indicated that he would be confined to segregation for 120 days. Id. at 2-3. The plaintiff admits that he was “livid” when he read the conduct report, because it was “ a complete lie Lt. Serrano had made up.” Id. at 3. Serrano said that he'd reviewed camera footage and had seen the plaintiff attack another inmate; the plaintiff asserts that this was false. Id. The plaintiff decided to exercise his right to fight the conduct report through the administrative process. ...


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