United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
CONNOR Q. SAVADA, Plaintiff,
JASON MEISNER, DAVID MARNENIN, AMANDA BARTZ, and LINCOLN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT JAIL, Defendant.
William C. Griesbach, Chief United States District Judge.
Connor Savada, who is currently being detained at the Lincoln
County Jail and representing himself, filed a complaint under
42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights were
violated. This matter comes before the court on Savada's
motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the full filing
fee and to screen the complaint.
to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee
submitted his complaint, accompanied by a “Prisoner
Request To Proceed In The District Court Without Prepaying
The Full Filing Fee, ” to the Clerk on March 8, 2019.
Dkt. Nos. 1- 2. Since he was not in custody at the time he
submitted his request, Savada was not subject to the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), which requires payment of an
initial partial filing fee with the balance to be paid over
time. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) and (b). Confused by the
forms he had completed, the Clerk initially sent a letter
directing Savada to file a certified copy of his
institutional trust account statement for the last six
months. Dkt. No. 3. The Clerk later realized Savada was not a
prisoner and sent a second letter on March 15, 2019,
directing him to file a motion for leave to proceed without
prepayment of the full filing fee (in forma
pauperis) within the next 21 days. Dkt. No. 4. On April
15, 2019, Savada sent a letter advising the court that he was
again in jail and had not been receiving his mail. Savada
requested that “any missed deadlines be forgiven and I
re-file as an incarcerated person filing in forma
pauperis.” Dkt. No. 5. Since the “Prisoner
Request To Proceed In District Court Without Prepaying The
Full Filing Fee” that accompanied his complaint is
sufficient to establish his indigency, I will grant his
request to proceed without paying the filing fee and screen
Savada's complaint to determine whether it states a
of the Complaint
for the reason set forth above this case is not governed by
the PLRA, the court is authorized “to screen complaints
filed by all litigants, prisoners and nonprisoners alike,
regardless of fee status.” Rowe v. Shake, 196
F.3d 778, 783 (7th Cir. 1999) (citing 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)). This is to insure that people named as
defendants in suits brought by individuals with no education
or training in the law are not forced to incur the expense of
hiring a lawyer to defend them in a federal suit that has no
basis in the law. It also frees up judicial resources for
cases involving serious disputes over colorable claims. A
court should therefore dismiss a complaint if it fails to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). To survive screening, the complaint
must state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). In other words, it must
allege sufficient facts to permit “the reasonable
inference that defendant is liable for the injury
alleged.” Id. In determining whether a
complaint states a claim, the court accepts all of the
plaintiff's allegations as true and gives them a liberal
construction when the plaintiff is proceeding pro
se. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
Nevertheless, the complaint's allegations “must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted).
of the Complaint
December of 2017, Savada was taken into custody for two or
three days on a misdemeanor non-appearance bench warrant that
was issued when he failed to appear for a status conference.
Although Savada claims that he was unaware of the status
conference, there is no allegation that the warrant was
invalid. While he was being booked at the Lincoln County
Jail, Savada alleges that two members of the Lincoln County
Sherriff's Office Correctional staff-Jason Meisner and a
Jane Doe officer-slammed him to the floor of a cell in the
holding area while both of his arms were being held behind
his back. Savada alleges that this was done because he was
refusing to answer personal health questions while he was
being booked. Savada further alleges that these staff members
also mocked him and made a facial gesture to him indicating
that they could “accidentally forget” to inform
the court that he was available to appear while he was in
their custody. Dkt. No. 1 at 4.
minutes later Meisner allegedly approached Savada's cell
and asked if he needed or wanted any medical care. Savada
states that he declined any medical care despite injuries to
his knees and one elbow out of fear that he would be harmed
again by Meisner and the officers would act on their threat
not to inform the court that he was available to appear.
Savada also states that he was afraid to ask for assistance
because of the jail's close proximity to Lincoln Hills
and Copper Lake and his belief “that these people, and
this location are dangerous and willing to violate the
Constitution.” Id. at 5.
also alleges that he was denied access to prescription
medication related to his recovery from an infection. Savada
states that the jail's staff was informed and aware of
his recent illness and injury. Savada alleges that, at some
point during his time at the jail, when he called out to a
Jane Done nurse the nurse ran away from him. Savada is
seeking monetary relief.
Savada's arrest took place pursuant to a bench warrant,
“this case concerns detention following a judicial
determination of sufficient cause.” Armstrong v.
Squadrito, 152 F.3d 564, 569-70 (7th Cir. 1998).
Consequently, his claims are analyzed under the due process
clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Villanova v.
Abrams, 972 F.2d 792, 797 (7th Cir. 1992) (The Fourth
Amendment “governs the period of confinement between
arrest without a warrant and the preliminary hearing at which
a determination of probable cause is made, while due process
regulates the period of confinement after the initial
determination of probable cause.”).
standard for judging an excessive force claim under the due
process clause, like the standard under the Fourth Amendment,
is objective unreasonableness. Kingsley v.
Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2471 (2015).
“‘Not every push or shove, even if it may later
seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge's chambers,'
violates the Fourth Amendment.” Graham v.
Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396 (1989) (quoting Johnson v.
Glick, 481 F.2d 1028, 1033 (2d Cir. 1973), cert.
denied, 414 U.S. 1033 (1973)). “Considerations
such as the following may bear on the reasonableness or
unreasonableness of the force used: the relationship between
the need for the use of force and the amount of force used;
the extent of the plaintiff's injury; any effort made by
the officer to temper or to limit the amount of force; the
severity of the security problem at issue; the threat
reasonably perceived by the officer; and whether the
plaintiff was actively resisting.” Kingsley,
135 S.Ct. at 2473.
Savada's allegations as true, which the court must do at
this stage, his complaint states a claim for excessive force
against Jason Meisner and the Jane Doe officer. Slamming an
inmate to the floor of a jail simply because he refuses to
answer questions is not objectively reasonable, and no person
should condone such brutality. But allegations, especially
uncorroborated allegations, are not proof, and relieving an
indigent inmate of even the burden of paying the filing fee
eliminates any incentive the inmate might otherwise have not
to file false or exaggerated claims. True, one of the factors
to be considered in determining whether the force used was
unreasonably excessive is the extent of the plaintiff's
injury. This makes sense if the Court's statement
acknowledging that “not every push or shove” will
amount to a constitutional violation is to serve as any kind
of a meaningful limitation on the ability of an inmate to
force his jailers to incur the expense of defending a federal
lawsuit. But the Court has also said that while the absence
of serious injury is relevant to the ...