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Henderson v. Pollard

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

May 10, 2019

WILLIAM J. POLLARD, et al., Defendants.


          Lynn Adelman, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Michael C. Henderson, a state prisoner who is representing himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants violated his civil rights. The plaintiff also filed a motion to proceed without prepaying the filing fee. This order grants that motion and screens his complaint.

         Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act 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 February 12, 2019, I ordered the plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of $0.15. The plaintiff sent a letter stating that he could not pay the initial partial filing fee from his regular account. The court will waive the fee and grant the plaintiff's motion. He must pay the entirety of the filing fee over time in the manner explained at the end of this order.

         Screening of Plaintiff's Complaint

         Federal law requires that I 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). I 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 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 a court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         To proceed 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 defendant was 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). I will give a pro se plaintiff's 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)).

         Plaintiff's Allegations

         While housed in the Restricted Housing Unit at Green Bay Correctional Institution, the plaintiff was without running water for over 8 days. He could not wash his face or wash his hands after using the toilet. He could not brush his teeth or take his blood pressure medication. He could not flush his toilet; it had to be “force flushed.” The defendants only did it when they felt like it.

         The plaintiff states that the defendants were well aware that the water was not working in his cell. At least one of the defendants stated that they put in a work order. The reports the defendants provided plaintiff did not reflect they had done so. Body cameras caught the plaintiff demonstrating that nothing happened when he pressed the hot and cold water buttons. The plaintiff had to drink toilet water to stay hydrated. The defendants made jokes about the water and his toilet not working.


         The plaintiff's complaint is deficient in its allegations about the conditions he experienced while in the Restrictive Housing Unit because an Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claims requires that the defendants affirmatively knew of the condition(s), including by causing them, and refuse to take steps to correct it/them. Dixon v. Godinez, 114 F.3d 640, 645 (7th Cir. 1997). The plaintiff's complaint lists many defendants, but he does not tie any specific names to any particular acts or omissions. I will give the plaintiff an opportunity to amend his complaint to include factual allegations about who knew about or created the conditions about which he complains and did nothing to try to fix them.

         The plaintiff should refer to this legal standard when amending his complaint: to make out an Eighth Amendment claim based on prison conditions, an inmate must show that he has suffered an objectively, sufficiently serious injury, and that prison officials inflicted the injury with deliberate indifference. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). An objectively, sufficiently serious injury is one that deprives the inmate “the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347 (1981). Only extreme deprivations will support an Eighth Amendment claim. Delaney v. DeTella, 256 F.3d 679, 683 (7th Cir. 2001). Again, I reiterate that ...

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