United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge United Stated District
Mark Anthony Adell, who is currently serving a state prison
sentence at Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI) 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 Adell'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
has requested leave to proceed without prepayment of the full
filing fee (in forma pauperis). A prisoner plaintiff
proceeding in forma pauperis is required to pay the
full amount of the $350.00 filing fee over time. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Adell has filed a certified copy
of his prison trust account statement for the six-month
period immediately preceding the filing of his complaint, as
required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2). It appears that
Adell lacks the funds to pay an initial partial filing fee.
Therefore, the court will waive the initial partial filing
fee, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4), and grant Adell's
motion to proceed in forma pauperis.
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
Adell's 13-page complaint, to which he attaches 268 pages
of exhibits, concerns his attempts to use the Inmate
Complaint Review System (ICRS) at Wisconsin Secure Program
Facility (WSPF) to file complaints related to his medical
care at WSPF. He alleges that the “health care services
defendants” intentionally denied him adequate medical
attention and that the ICRS complaints he filed regarding his
medical care were rejected or confiscated without
justification. Dkt. No. 1 at 4. He alleges that Ellen Ray, W.
Brown, and J. Payne, whom Adell identifies as inmate
complaint examiners (ICE), conspired to reject, confiscate,
return, and/or file without assignment of a tracking number
various complaints he filed about allegedly inadequate
medical care. He further alleges that the ICEs sometimes
rejected his complaints based on reasons that had no
grounding in law. He claims that the ICEs' treatment of
his complaints delayed his receipt of care and caused him
has failed to state a claim against the “health care
services defendants.” Id. He claims these
defendants denied him adequate medical care, but he does not
state what each defendant did or failed to do in violation of
his constitutional rights. The Eighth Amendment proscribes
the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, including
deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of
prisoners. U.S. Const. amend. VIII; Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976). “To state an
Eighth Amendment claim based on deficient medical care, a
plaintiff must allege an objectively serious medical
condition and an official's deliberate indifference to
that condition.” Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d
768, 776 (7th Cir. 2015). Adell's vague allegations of
pain are insufficient to allege an objectively serious
medical condition, which is “one that has been
diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that
is so obvious that even a lay person would perceive the need
for a doctor's attention.” Greeno v.
Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005). Adell has also
failed to allege that any of the defendants knew of a
substantial risk to his health and disregarded that risk.
See id.; Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
834 (1994). He therefore may not proceed on any claims
against the “health care services” defendants.
also fails to state a deliberate indifference claim against
the ICEs. An inmate's correspondence to a prison official
may establish a basis for personal liability under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 where the correspondence provides sufficient
knowledge of a constitutional deprivation and the official
facilitates, approves, condones, or turns a blind eye to it.
Perez, 792 F.3d at 781-82 (citations omitted).
“In other words, prisoner requests for relief that fall
on ‘deaf ears' may evidence deliberate
indifference.” Id. at 782 (quoting Dixon
v. Godinez, 114 F.3d 640, 645 (7th Cir. 1997)). While
Adell alleges that the ICEs rejected, returned, and sometimes
confiscated complaints he filed regarding “threats to
his health and personal safety, ” such vague
allegations are insufficient to allege a constitutional
deprivation that would raise a plausible right to relief were
it ignored or otherwise condoned. See Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (meeting a plaintiff's pleading standard
requires more than “labels and conclusions”).
there sufficient allegations that the ICEs turned a blind eye
to the complaints. Adell attaches a bevy of inmate complaints
and ICE responses to the complaints. To support his broad
allegations that the ICE defendants mishandled his
complaints, Adell cites Exhibits 1 through Z, which comprise
all of the 268 attached exhibits. See Dkt. No. 1 at
4. The only exhibits Adell specifically identifies to argue
that the ICE defendants improperly confiscated his
complaints, see Id. at 5, do not show that his
complaints fell on deaf ears. Exhibit 17 is an ICE return
letter from Ray noting that two of Adell's complaints
would not be processed or returned because of his failure to
comply with Wisconsin Administrative Code § DOC
310.10(5), Dkt. No. 1-1 at 18; Exhibits 21 and 22 are a
letter and information request to Ray asking that she return
documents she confiscated, and Ray's response, stating
“[a]s you were told - the complaints will not be
returned, ” id at 24-25; Exhibit 67 is an ICE
return letter from Payne informing Adell that his submission
is not accepted and will not be returned for failure to
comply with § DOC 310.10(5), Dkt. No. 1-2 at 17; Exhibit
70 is an ICE return letter from Brown notifying Adell that
his June 14, 2018 submission was not accepted under §
DOC 310.10(5) because Adell failed to correct the
deficiencies in his first complaint, as set forth in a
previous return letter, id. at 20; and Exhibit 129
is an ICE return letter from Brown stating that Adell
“disregarded all direction” given to him in a
previous return letter and resubmitted the same submissions,
which Brown noted would not be processed or returned, Dkt.
No. 1-4 at 19.
exhibits suggest that several of Adell's complaints were
not returned to him, but non-return does not mean that the
ICEs turned a blind eye to a constitutional deprivation.
Rather, the ICEs responded to each of Adell's complaints,
and to the extent they chose not to accept the complaints,
they did so because Adell did not comply with their
directions when they first returned the complaint. That Adell
disagrees with the ICEs' decisions regarding his inmate
complaints does not mean that he can hold them liable under
§ 1983. See Matz v. Klotka, 769 F.3d 517, 528
(7th Cir. 2014) (“A damages suit under § 1983
requires that a defendant be personally involved in the
alleged constitutional ...