United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
QUINCY D. BENJAMIN, Plaintiff,
BRIAN FOSTER, Defendant.
STADTMUELLER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Quincy Benjamin, who is incarcerated at the Wisconsin Secure
Program Facility, proceeds in this matter pro se. He
filed a complaint alleging that Defendant violated his civil
rights. (Docket #1). This matter comes before the court on
Plaintiff's petition to proceed without prepayment of the
filing fee (in forma pauperis). (Docket #2).
Plaintiff has been assessed and has paid an initial partial
filing fee of $1.46. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b). The Court now
proceeds to screen the complaint.
court shall screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking
relief against a governmental entity or an 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. Id. §
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). The court may, therefore, dismiss a
claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably
meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are
clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327.
“Malicious, ” although sometimes treated as a
synonym for “frivolous, ” “is more usefully
construed as intended to harass.” Lindell v.
McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107, 1109- 10 (7th Cir. 2003)
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). It is not
necessary for the plaintiff to plead specific facts and his
statement need only “give the defendant 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)). However, a complaint that offers mere
“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). To state
a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, “that is plausible on its
face.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 570). “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). 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).
considering whether a complaint states a claim, courts should
follow the principles set forth in Twombly by first,
“identifying pleadings that, because they are no more
than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Legal
conclusions must be supported by factual allegations.
Id. If there are well-pleaded factual allegations,
the court must, second, “assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
to relief.” Id.
state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. Section 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. Cty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009)
(citing Kramer v. Vill. of N. 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 the
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)).
alleges that when he was incarcerated in Waupun Correctional
Institution (“Waupun”) in 2016, he fell out of
the top bunk in his cell and hit his head. (Docket #1 at
2-3). He was hospitalized and received two stitches.
Id. at 4. Plaintiff says that Defendant,
Waupun's warden, was responsible for the injury because
he did not have rails installed on the prison's bunk
beds. Id. at 2-3.
fails to state any claims for relief under federal law. The
Eighth Amendment protects prisoners from cruel and unusual
punishment. Prison conditions violate this rule only when
they fall below “the minimal civilized measure of
life's necessities.” Wilson v. Seiter, 501
U.S. 294, 304 (1991). Further, for Defendant to be liable
under the Eighth Amendment, he must have been deliberately
indifferent to the allegedly deficient condition. This means
that Defendant must have been aware of a substantial risk of
serious harm to Plaintiff, and he must have consciously
disregarded that risk. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 837 (1994).
does not allege that Defendant was deliberately indifferent
to the risk of harm posed by a lack of bed rails. Even if he
had made such allegations, courts agree that the absence of
bed rails does not raise a risk of serious harm sufficient to
support Eighth Amendment liability. Walker v.
Leblanc, Civil Action No. 15-591-SDD-RLB, 2016 WL
3951425, at *2-3 (M.D. La. June 21, 2016); Cummings v.
Sequiera, No. 15-00227 JMS/RLP, 2015 WL 3822480, at *2
(D. Haw. June 18, 2015); Walker v. Walsh, Civil
Action No. 3:11-CV-1750, 2012 WL 314883, at *5 (M.D. Penn.
Feb. 1, 2012). In other words, a bed rail is not a minimal
civilized measure of life's necessities. Plaintiff's
claim is, at best, one for negligence, but the Constitution
does not exist to remedy negligent conduct. Petties v.
Carter, 836 F.3d 722, 728 (7th Cir. 2016). This action
must, therefore, be dismissed for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted.
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion
for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee
(in forma pauperis) (Docket #2) be and the same is
IS FURTHER ORDERED that this action be and the same
is hereby DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b)(1) for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted;
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court document
that this inmate has incurred a “strike” under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(g);
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the agency having custody of
Plaintiff shall collect from his institution trust account
the balance of the filing fee by collecting monthly payments
from Plaintiff's prison trust account in an amount equal
to 20% of the preceding month's income credited to
Plaintiff's trust account and forwarding payments to the
Clerk of Court each time the amount in the account exceeds
$10 in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The
payments shall be clearly identified by the case name and
number assigned to this action. If Plaintiff is transferred
to another institution, ...