United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
MASON L. HUTTER, Plaintiff,
ST. CROIX COUNTY CLERK OF COURTS OFFICE, Defendant.
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE
Mason L. Hutter brings this lawsuit alleging that St. Croix
County officials placed incorrect information into his
criminal or driver-license records, leading to him being
arrested twice. In screening Hutter's original complaint
and supplement to the complaint, I concluded that this court
could not hear his claims because it was unclear whether he
stated any claims for relief under federal law. Dkt. 17. The
majority of Hutter's allegations concerned negligence on
the part of St. Croix County employees who worked for the
clerk of court, but the court could not consider only those
claims because there was no indication that the court could
exercise diversity jurisdiction over the claims. Id.
that Hutter potentially could bring a Fourth Amendment claim
against the officials who were made aware of the incorrect
information yet intentionally failed to correct it, leading
to Hutter's second arrest. Dkt. 3. But Hutter did not
name as a defendant any individuals responsible for this
problem, and he did not allege that the records were created
erroneously because of a county policy or custom, which is
the only way a county may be held liable under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Id. at 3-4.
has provided an amended complaint that fixes most of these
problems. Dkt. 18. Although he did not amend the caption of
his complaint, it is clear from his allegations that he seeks
to bring claims against the county as well as individual
defendants Shelly Fox and Jane Does who worked in the clerk
of court's office. So I will allow Hutter to proceed on
Fourth Amendment claims against Fox and the Doe defendants
for either recklessly or intentionally allowing his records
to contain incorrect information, knowing that it could lead
to another erroneous arrest. He conclusorily states that a
custom or policy was responsible for the problems, but
without more detailed allegations, I cannot allow him to
proceed on a Fourth Amendment claim against the county. If,
through discovery, he learns that there was indeed a policy
or custom that led to the employees entering or maintaining
incorrect records, he may file a motion to amend his
complaint to add a claim against the county.
that Hutter has stated Fourth Amendment claims, I may
consider his state law claims. He no longer appears to be
attempting to bring defamation claims. But he does continue
to state that defendants acted negligently throughout the
course of events. I will allow him to proceed on negligence
claims against Fox and the Doe defendants for their role in
negligently placing false information in this record before
his first arrest, and also for leaving it in the record,
leading to the second arrest. Hutter also states claims
against St. Croix County under the doctrine of respondeat
superior. See, e.g., Javier v. City of
Milwaukee, 670 F.3d 823, 828 (7th Cir. 2012) (doctrine
of respondeat superior assigns vicarious liability
to employer for torts of employees acting within scope of
preliminary pretrial conference that will be held later in
this case, Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker will explain the
process for Hutter to use discovery requests to identify the
names of the Doe defendants and to amend the complaint to
include the proper identities of these defendants.
there appears to be some factual overlap between this case
and Hutter's other pending case, about being falsely
arrested in Pierce County, 18-cv-576-jdp, I will consolidate
them under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42, which means
that Magistrate Judge Crocker will hold a joint preliminary
pretrial conference and set one schedule for resolution of
both cases. I envision holding a joint trial, if necessary,
although the parties are free to submit input on that matter.
The court will maintain separate dockets for the cases, so
the parties should still submit filings into the respective
1. Plaintiff Mason L. Hutter is GRANTED leave to proceed on
Fourth Amendment and Wisconsin-law negligence claims against
defendants Shelly Fox, Jane Doe St. Croix County clerk of
court's office employees, and St. Croix County.
2. This case is CONSOLIDATED with case no. 18-cv-576-jdp.
3. The clerk of court is directed to forward the amended
complaint, Dkt. 18, and summons to the United States Marshal
for service on defendants.
4. For the time being, plaintiff must send defendants a copy
of every paper or document that he files with the court. Once
plaintiff learns the name of the lawyer or lawyers who will
be representing defendants, he should serve the lawyer
directly rather than defendants. The court will disregard
documents plaintiff submits that do not show on the
court's copy that he has sent a copy to defendants or to
5. Plaintiff should keep a copy of all documents for his own
files. If he is unable to use a photocopy machine, he may
send out identical handwritten ...