United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge.
Darnell Ingram, who was confined at Fond du Lac County Jail
at the time of filing, filed a pro se complaint
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights
were violated. Along with his complaint, Ingram filed a
motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing
fee and a copy of his prisoner trust account statement. In an
order dated January 16, 2019, the court waived the initial
partial filing fee and directed Ingram to notify the court
within 21 days whether he wished to voluntarily dismiss this
action to avoid the possibility of incurring a strike under
28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). On February 6, 2019, Ingram filed a
motion for the release of documents related to several state
court cases. On February 8, 2019, instead of notifying the
court of his intent to dismiss this action, Ingram filed a
motion to stay the case pending his receipt of free legal
motions for the release of documents and to stay will be
denied. Ingram's motion to release documents, to the
extent it seeks to obtain discoverable material relevant to
this action, will be denied as premature. If Ingram's
complaint survives screening, he will be able to use the
tools of discovery in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to
gather facts relating to his claims. Now is not the
appropriate time to request documents, as the court has not
yet screened the complaint, and in any event, discovery
requests are not to be served on the court. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 5(d). Regarding his motion to stay, Ingram chose
to file this action while he was confined in Fond du Lac
County Jail. He could have waited to file his complaint until
his release on January 31, 2019, or he could have notified
the court of his intent to withdraw this action. Either of
these options would have allowed him to obtain legal advice
and modify his complaint. Granting an indefinite stay would
frustrate the court's obligation to screen his complaint
“as soon as practicable after docketing, ” 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(a), and would only further delay this
matter. Moreover, since the case will proceed, Ingram is free
to continue to seek assistance of counsel and amend his
complaint should counsel advise him to do so in the future.
His motion to stay will therefore be denied, and his
complaint will be screened.
to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee
Ingram is no longer confined, he remains subject to the
requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA)
because he was incarcerated at the time he filed his
complaint. The PLRA gives courts discretion to allow
plaintiffs 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 plaintiff pay an initial partial
filing fee. The court previously waived the initial partial
filing fee. ECF No. 7. Ingram's motion to proceed without
prepayment of the filing fee will therefore be granted.
Ingram is still required to pay the remainder of the fee over
time as he is able.
of the Complaint
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).
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).
of the Complaint
alleges that, on November 13, 2017, he reported his ex-wife,
with whom he shares two children, to Fond du Lac County
Social Services (FDLCSS) for child neglect. He alleges that
intake social worker Cathy Rienhart refused to investigate
his complaint because he is African-American and that she
made negative comments concerning his mental health. Ingram
alleges that, around April 1, 2018, Rienhart received a child
neglect report against Ingram's ex-wife filed by his
ex-wife's father. Ingram alleges that Rienhart
investigated this claim because the complainant, Ingram's
ex-father-in-law, is white.
to Ingram, on April 16, 2018, Rienhart and FDLCSS Director
Patricia L. removed all children from his ex-wife's home
due to child neglect and placed Ingram's children in
foster care. Ingram alleges that he received notice of this
removal around May 1, 2018, and that he was not previously
informed about his children's living situation or about a
hearing. Ingram alleges that, in August and September 2018,
he made several complaints about the acts of his
children's foster mother to Patricia L., supervisor
Jessica, and Kayla Powers, who are all FDLCSS employees.
Ingram alleges that his children's foster mother kept his
children in unsafe, unhealthy conditions. He alleges that no
action was taken in response to his complaints because he is
African-American and because the foster parents are white.
the same time, about August or September 2018, Ingram alleges
that he received from Patricia L. a “falsely documented
disposition” depriving him of seeing his children for
three weeks. ECF No. 1 at 5. He also alleges that Patricia L.
did not provide him service, insulted his mental health, and
supported his three-week separation from his children.
claims that, around October 4, 2018, his probation agent
informed him that his children's foster mother made
allegations against him, which resulted in him being placed
in the Fond du Lac County Jail. Ingram claims that an
investigation revealed that the allegations against him were
false, which led him to file a civil suit against the foster
mother in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court in December 2018.
Ingram believes that FDLCSS and his children's foster
mother are not submitting his letters to his children. Ingram
alleges that, on January 4, 2019, he received a handwritten
statement from agent Sue Schwartz containing
“intentional, malicious non-truth, ” and
“creat[ing] a disposition of fabricated, altered and
falsified evidence to assure injury and punishment.”
ECF No. 1-1 at 1. He alleges that, on January 9, 2019,
Jessica and Kayla Powers visited him and confirmed that
“nothing will change, ” that his “children
will stay with Foster parents, ” and that FDLCSS will
not agree to place his kids with him. ECF No. 1-4.
alleges that, on January 19, 2019, he received a letter dated
January 15, 2019, from Deputy Director Richard W. Gedemer,
who works for FDLCSS. According to Ingram, the letter refused
“to remedy the wrong of all defendants . . . [and] did
not address all concerns, appearing to giving [sic] supplant
[sic] answers, dishonesty, manipulation, and even praising
the acts of social workers.” ECF No. 12 at 1. Ingram
alleges that Gedemer supported probation officer Aleesha
Gillingham in her fabricated allegations. Ingram further
alleges that FDLCSS refuses to give him his children ...