United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
BARBARA B. CRABB DISTRICT JUDGE
civil action for monetary and injunctive relief, pro se
plaintiff Khaled Shabani alleges that various individuals and
entities in the City of Madison, Wisconsin violated his
constitutional rights by harassing him and his daughter in
numerous ways. Because plaintiff is proceeding without
prepayment of the filing fee, his complaint must be screened
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) to determine whether his
complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted or seeks money damages from
a defendant who is immune from such relief.
screening any pro se litigant's complaint, the court must
read the allegations of the complaint generously. Haines
v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 521 (1972). Having reviewed
plaintiff's complaint under this standard, I conclude
that it violates Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure because it fails to provide sufficient information
for this court to determine whether (1) subject matter
jurisdiction exists or (2) whether plaintiff would be
entitled to any relief against any of the named defendants.
Although I am dismissing the complaint, I will give plaintiff
an opportunity to file an amended complaint that explains his
claims more clearly.
broadly asserts that various members of the City of Madison
police department violated his civil rights by harassing and
assaulting him on numerous occasions. He devotes more than a
page of his complaint to general allegations that government
officials (including police officers and judges) are out to
get him and have entered his apartment without permission to
install hidden cameras, threatened him with racketeering
charges, caused his ex-wife to divorce him, turned his hair
salon clients against him, tried to poison him and offered
him drugs. With respect to a few specific incidents,
plaintiff alleges that: (1) defendant Police Chief Michael
Koval ordered his officers to beat plaintiff's daughter
on October 21, 2015; (2) on March 22, 2018, defendants Koval,
Kevin Costin and Hemp Johnson, along with other police
officers, organized an attack on plaintiff outside a
restaurant or bar on State Street in Madison, during which an
undercover officer beat him and broke his left hand; (3)
defendant Officer Damion Figueron falsely arrested him for an
incident that occurred while plaintiff was giving someone a
haircut on December 22, 2017; (4) defendant Officer John
Sweeny failed to arrest or remove a man who was harassing
plaintiff at Ruby's Salon on November 1, 2018; and (5)
defendants Kenneth Brown and Kraig Kalka pretended they were
going to arrest him in front of his shop.
difficult to ascertain the exact nature of plaintiff's
claims because he has not provided enough information about
what happened, who was involved or how his constitutional
rights were violated in each instance. Under federal pleading
rules, “[e]ach defendant is entitled to know what he or
she did that is asserted to be wrongful.” Bank of
America, N.A. v. Knight, 725 F.3d 815, 818 (7th Cir.
2013). Further, a defendant cannot be held liable for a
constitutional violation unless he or she was personally
involved in the alleged conduct. Kuhn v. Goodlow,
678 F.3d 552, 555-56 (7th Cir. 2012).
some of plaintiff's allegations implicate his
constitutional rights, other allegations do not implicate any
federal claim over which this court has jurisdiction. For
example, plaintiff lacks standing to pursue a claim on behalf
of someone else, like his daughter. In addition, this court
does not have the authority to order the police to conduct an
investigation or prosecute an individual. Such decisions are
left up to the discretion of local law enforcement.
also has named several entities and individuals who cannot be
sued in this court. The City of Madison Police Department,
the Police and Fire Commission and the Professional Standards
and Internal Affairs Unit are city agencies or departments
that cannot be sued under § 1983 separately from the
City of Madison. Best v. City of Portland, 554 F.3d 698
(7th Cir. 2009); Chan v. Wodnicki, 123 F.3d 1005,
1007 (7th Cir. 1997). To hold the City of Madison liable,
plaintiff must allege facts that show that a city-wide
policy, custom or widespread practice caused the
constitutional violation in question. Dixon v. County of
Cook, 819 F.3d 343, 348 (7th Cir. 2016); Palmer v.
Marion County, 327 F.3d 588, 595 (7th Cir. 2003).
Plaintiff's allegations that certain police officers
treated him adversely on a few occasions are not sufficient
to state such a claim.
allegations against state court judges fail because under
both federal and state law, judges are entitled to absolute
judicial immunity when they are sued for decisions made in
their official capacity. In other words, judges cannot be
sued for acts taken in their capacity as judges, such as
issuing a warrant. Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11
(1991); Abdella v. Catlin, 79 Wis.2d 270, 279, 255
N.W.2d 516 (1977). Moreover, this court does not have
authority to review the decision of a state court judge.
Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a party “complaining
of an injury caused by [a] state-court judgment” cannot
seek redress in a lower federal court. Exxon Mobil Corp.
v. Saudi Industries Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 291-92 (2005);
D.C. Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482
(1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413,
416 (1923). Rather, litigants who feel that a state court
proceeding has violated their rights must appeal that
decision through the state court system and then, if
appropriate, to the United States Supreme Court. Golden v.
Helen Sigman & Associates, Ltd., 611 F.3d 356,
361-62 (7th Cir. 2010). Therefore, if plaintiff wants to
challenge the decision of a state court judge, he must do so
in state court.
a review of court records available online shows that
plaintiff already may be challenging some of the above
alleged conduct by certain police officers in state court. He
should be aware that the doctrine of claim preclusion or res
judicata prevents a plaintiff from filing multiple lawsuits
about the same injury, Okoro v. Bohman, 164 F.3d
1059, 1062 (7th Cir. 1999), and the doctrine of issue
preclusion bars relitigation of issues that have been
litigated and decided in a previous action, Allen v.
McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 96 (1980); Stephan v. Rocky
Mountain Chocolate Factory, Inc., 136 F.3d 1134, 1136
(7th Cir.1998). In addition, there is a common law rule that
prohibits double recovery for the same injury. General
Telephone Co. of the Northwest, Inc. v. EEOC, 446 U.S.
318, 333 (1980); EEOC v. International Profit Associates,
Inc., No. 01 C 4427, 2008 WL 485130, at *2 (N.D.Ill.
Feb. 22, 2008).
plaintiff's complaint is so incoherent or vague that the
court cannot determine whether subject matter jurisdiction
exists or whether the complaint states a claim for relief, I
will give him an opportunity to file an amended complaint
that clarifies his claims, keeping in mind the considerations
I have mentioned. Plaintiff should draft the amended
complaint as if he is telling a story to someone who knows
nothing about his situation. This means he should explain:
(1) what happened to make him believe he has a legal claim;
(2) when it happened; (3) who did it; (4) why; and (5) how
the court can assist him in relation to those events. As part
of his pleading, he also must identify any part of the
disputed matter that was presented to any state court, which
court(s) and the outcome. He should take care to identify
each defendant and the specific actions taken by each
defendant whom he believes violated his rights. Plaintiff
should also make clear whether each defendant is a
governmental employee or not. Finally, plaintiff should set
forth his allegations in separate, numbered paragraphs using
short and plain statements. After he finishes drafting a
complaint, he should further review it and consider whether
it could be understood by someone who is not familiar with
the facts of his case. If not, he should make necessary
may have until March 26, 2019 to provide an amended
complaint. If plaintiff does not file an amended complaint by
that date, the court will dismiss and close this case.
ORDERED that plaintiff Khaled Shabani's complaint is
DISMISSED without prejudice for failure to comply with
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. Plaintiff may have until March 26, 2019 to
file an amended complaint that complies with Rule 8. If
plaintiff does not file an ...