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Warren v. Rudolph

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

July 16, 2018

JAMES WARREN, Plaintiff,
v.
CO RUDOLPH, et al., Defendants.

          SCREENING ORDER

          WILLIAM C. GRIESBACH, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Order Plaintiff James Warren, who is currently serving a state prison sentence at Stanley Correctional Institution (SCI) and representing himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights were violated. This matter comes before the court on Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the full filing fee. ECF No. 6.

         Motion to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee

         The total cost of filing a civil action is $400.00, which includes the $350.00 statutory filing fee and a $50.00 administrative fee. However, the $50.00 administrative fee does not apply to persons granted in forma pauperis status. Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), the prisoner plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis is required to pay the full amount of the statutory filing fee, $350.00, for any civil action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         Under the PLRA, which amended the in forma pauperis statute, the court must assess an initial partial filing fee of twenty percent of the average monthly deposits to the plaintiff's account or average monthly balance in the plaintiff's prison account for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint, whichever is greater. Id. After the initial fee is paid, the prisoner must make monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income until the filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). “The agency having custody of the prisoner shall forward payments from the prisoner's account to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in the account exceeds $10 until the filing fees are paid.” Id. The obligation to pay the full filing fee continues, even if the case is immediately dismissed as frivolous, malicious or for failure to state a claim, or later on summary judgment or after trial. The amount of the filing fee can be recovered as part of the costs of the action in the event the plaintiff ultimately prevails.

         Warren filed a certified copy of his prisoner trust account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint as required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2). A review of this information reveals that, for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the instant complaint, the average monthly deposit in Warren's prison account was $79.56 and the average monthly balance to the account was $241.75. Thus, in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), Warren is required to pay an initial partial filing fee of $48.35. Warren has submitted an initial $50.00 payment that satisfies this initial partial filing fee. Accordingly, Warren's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee will be granted.

         Screening of the Complaint

         The court is required 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 must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised 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); Hutchinson ex rel. Baker v. Spink, 126 F.3d 895, 900 (7th Cir. 1997).

         To state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, the plaintiff is required to 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 must contain sufficient factual matter “that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The court accepts the factual allegations as true and liberally construes them in the plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 651 (7th Cir. 2013). Nevertheless, the complaint's allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).

         Allegations of the Complaint

         Warren's claims stem from an interaction with Defendant Officer Rudolph on August 21, 2017. While walking between two housing units as part of his job as a canteen worker, Warren alleges that he encountered an unknown officer while passing an officer's station. He says that he asked her, “How are you doing, and what's your name?” ECF No. 1 at 1. She showed him her ID card, and he pronounced her name, “Rudolph, ” under his breath as he walked away.

         The next day, Warren alleges that Defendant Captain Taylor came to his cell with several other officers. They handcuffed him behind his back and transferred him from the general population to segregation. Warren alleges that, when Captain Taylor asked if he knew why he was being transferred, he responded, “I have no idea what this is about or when this is supposed to have happened.” Id. at 2. Captain Taylor then informed him that he was being placed in segregation for soliciting an employee, pending a misconduct investigation into the charges. Warren was given a maximum release date of September 11, 2017. ECF No. 1-1 at 3.[1] He states that, as a result of the placement in segregation, he lost his cell assignment, bed assignment, and unit wing advantage, and that he experienced daily physical and mental discomfort while in segregation. ECF No. 1 at 2. Warren alleges that Defendant Warden Reed Richardson drafted the institution policy authorizing detention in segregation pending investigation of a disciplinary matter. ECF No. 1 at 1.

         A disciplinary hearing was held on September 12, 2017. ECF No. 1-1 at 8-9. The charge for soliciting an employee was dismissed. Id. Although Rudolph's original misconduct report stated that Warren said “let's meet up on the other side” to her, at the hearing Rudolph could not remember with 100% certainty exactly what Warren had said to her. ECF No. 1-1 at 4, 7. Warren alleges that Rudolph's supervisor, Defendant Lieutenant Walia, told her to charge him with solicitation in the conduct report. ECF No. 1 at 2.

         Warren alleges that, after the misconduct charge was dismissed, he pursued administrative remedies on a claim that Rudolph engaged in misconduct by making a false statement on his conduct report. Id. at 3. Although Defendant Security Director Achterberg is not named in the body of the complaint, Warren attached to his complaint an October 18, 2017, letter to him requesting a transfer to a different institution as a result of Rudolph's alleged misconduct that resulted in his transfer to segregation. ECF No. 1-1 at 14-15. Achterberg responded in an October 24, 2017 memo reminding Warren that he had the right to file a complaint with the Institution Complaint Examiner (ICE). Id. at 16. Warren eventually filed a formal inmate complaint. Id. ...


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