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Watkins v. Welch

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

July 25, 2018

STACY BERNARD WATKINS, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
NICHOLAS WELCH, et al ., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF THE FILING FEE (DKT. NO. 2), AND SCREENING AND DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT (DKT. NO. 1)

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The plaintiff, who is in custody at the Waukesha County Jail, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that the defendants violated his civil rights. Dkt. No. 1. This decision resolves the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee, dkt. no. 2, and screens and dismisses his complaint, dkt. no. 1.

         I. THE PLAINTIFF'S 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 in custody when he filed the complaint. 28 U.S.C. §1915. The PLRA allows an incarcerated plaintiff to proceed with a lawsuit in federal court without pre-paying the full civil case filing fee so long as he pays an initial partial filing fee. 28 U.S.C. §1915(b). Once the plaintiff pays the initial partial filing fee, the plaintiff can pay the balance of the $350 filing fee over time, through deductions from his prisoner account. Id.

         The court ordered the plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of $32.65. Dkt. No. 4. The court received that fee on April 27, 2018. The court will grant the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee. He must pay the remainder of the filing fee over time in the manner explained at the end of this order.

         II. SCREENING OF THE PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT (DKT. NO. 1)

         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 that 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 set forth 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 unsupported 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

         On December 8, 2017, the plaintiff and his “companions” were involved in a traffic stop which resulted in a car accident; they were taken into custody by Pewaukee Police Department Officers Nicholas Welch and Kerry Corrus, who took them to Waukesha Memorial Hospital to be treated for minor cuts and bruises. Dkt. No. 1 at 2.

         At the hospital, Welch ordered the plaintiff to undress down to underwear and gave him a hospital gown, which the plaintiff put on while in the emergency room. Id. Nurse Jane Doe showed up, and checked the plaintiff's vital signs, listening with her stethoscope. Id. at 2-3. “[W]ithout warning or permission, Jane Doe slid her right hand under [the plaintiff's] hospital gown and quickly inside [his] underwear, then touched [his] penis and [his] scrotum with her hand.” Id. at 3. The plaintiff says that he felt violated, and responded by saying, “Hey, what are you doing putting your hand in my underwear?!” Id. He says that ...


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