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Sanders v. Franke

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

January 29, 2019




         Plaintiff Bobby Sanders, a pro se inmate at Green Bay Correctional Institution, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that C.O. Franke and Captain Elsinger used excessive force against him in violation of his constitutional rights. (ECF No. 1.) He also alleges that C.O. Franke, C.O. Rhode, Captain Elsinger, John Kind, Warden Scott Eckstein, and nurse Jane Doe acted with deliberate indifference toward his serious medical needs in violation of his constitutional rights. (Id.) This matter is before the court on Sanders's motion to proceed without prepaying the filing fee (ECF No. 2) and for screening his complaint (ECF No. 1).

         The court has jurisdiction to resolve Sanders's motion and screen his complaint in light of his consent to the full jurisdiction of a magistrate judge and the Wisconsin Department of Justice's limited consent to the exercise of magistrate judge jurisdiction as set forth in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Wisconsin Department of Justice and this court.

         1. Motion to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) gives courts discretion to allow prisoners to proceed with their lawsuits without prepaying the $350 filing fee as long as they comply with certain requirements. 28 U.S.C. § 1915. One of those requirements is that the prisoner pay an initial partial filing fee. On December 10, 2018, the court ordered Sanders to pay an initial partial filing fee of $1.69. (ECF No. 5.) Sanders paid the fee on January 22, 2019. Therefore, the court will grant his motion. Sanders will be required to pay the remainder of the $350 filing fee over time in the manner described at the end of this Order.

         2. 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).

         To state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, a 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). To state a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, “that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         To state a claim for relief 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. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Kramer v. Village of North Fond du Lac, 384 F.3d 856, 861 (7th Cir. 2004)); see also Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). The court is obliged to give a plaintiff's 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)).

         2.1 Allegations in the Complaint

         Sanders alleges that on July 13, 2018, at around 3:00 p.m. as he was leaving to take a shower, C.O. Franke was at his cell and instructed Sanders to remove his head garment. (ECF No. 1 at 2.) Sanders complied. (Id. at 2-3.) However, before Sanders could exit his cell, Franke slammed Sanders's cell door shut, shutting Sanders's right hand in the door. (Id. at 3.) Sanders states he “immediately felt a very sharp pain in [his] fingers and wrist; the pain caused [him] to let out a painful cry.” (Id. at 3.) He says that he pushed against the door with his left hand in an effort to free his right and told Franke that his right hand was in the cell doorway. (Id.) Franke continued to try to close the door. (Id.) Sanders states that once Franke “noticed” Sanders's hand was in fact in the doorway, Franke “eased up a bit, ” allowing Sanders to remove his hand. (Id.) Franke then slammed the cell door closed and walked off. (Id.)

         Sanders states that he “started to experience numbing pain in [right] wrist.” (ECF No. 1 at 3.) He saw that he had several lacerations on his hand and realized he could not move his fingers without pain. (Id. at 3-4.) Approximately twenty minutes later, when his cell was reopened for inmates to return from taking showers, Sanders says he left to inform the unit manager, Ms. Francois (not a defendant), of Franke's assault. (ECF. No. 1 at 4.) Sanders showed her his hand. (Id.) Francois instructed Sergeant Przybylinkski to send Sanders to the health services unit (HSU) for his injuries. (Id.)

         Sanders says he returned to his cell to dress and retrieve his ID card in preparation for transport to the HSU. (ECF No. 1 at 4.) As he did, however, C.O. Laplant-described as a defendant in the body of the compliant but not named as a defendant in the caption-closed Sanders's cell door. (Id.) Sanders states that he promptly explained his injury and told Laplant that Francois had said that Sanders was to go to HSU for his injury. Laplant, however, purportedly cut Sanders off, said that Sanders “wasn't going anywhere, ” and walked off. (Id.)

         Soon thereafter, as Przybylinkski passed Sanders's cell, Sanders stopped him and told him that he was ready to go to the HSU. (ECF No. 1 at 4.) Prybylinkski allegedly replied, “I thought you didn't want to go.” (Id.) After Sanders told him that was not true, Prybylinkski began to question Sanders about the incident with Franke. (Id.) Sanders told Prybylinkski that he had already explained the incident to Francois and so he should talk with her. (Id.) Prybylinkski then walked away. (Id.)

         Moments later, Sanders's cell was opened, and Sergeant Turk (not a defendant) escorted him to the HSU, where Sanders was seen by a nurse. (ECF No. 1 at 4-5.) In answering the nurse's question about how his injury occurred, Sanders explained that Franke had slammed Sanders's hand in his cell door. (Id. at 5.) Sanders asked the nurse to take photos of the injury, to which she responded that the camera was locked in security. (Id.) When Sanders told her that he would wait for her to retrieve it, the nurse left the room, went down the hall, and began talking with an officer. (Id.) Sanders followed and overheard the nurse tell the officer that Sanders was refusing treatment. (Id.) Sanders told the officer he was not refusing treatment but requesting that his hand be ...

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