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Adell v. Marchant

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

May 31, 2019



          William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff 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.

         Motion to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee

          Adell 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), and has been assessed an initial partial filing fee of $1.59. In response to the court's order directing payment of the initial partial filing fee, Adell filed a copy of his trust account statement and advised the court that he is unable to pay the initial partial filing fee. Because it appears that Adell is unable to pay the initial partial filing fee, the court waives the partial fee and will grant Adell's motion to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee.

         Screening of the Complaint

         The 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).

         To 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).

         Allegations of the Complaint

         Adell alleges that WCI maintains a seniority-based cell assignment policy, although inmates may be placed in certain cell types for medical, mental health, or security reasons. According to Adell, a “special needs committee” or “single cell committee” decides whether to grant an inmate's request to be placed in a single cell based on a medical need. Dkt. No. 1 at 2, 4. Adell alleges that he suffers from a variety of medical problems, including Crohn's disease, mixed ulcerative colitis, migraines, and a sliding hernia in his neck. He claims these conditions cause him “harsh side effects such as raging bouts of round the clock diarrhea, bowel urgency, gerd, weight loss fluxuations [sic], dehydration et al.” Id. at 4.

         Single-cell placement, Adell alleges, would accommodate his medical needs because he would have his own toilet, which would be reasonably available to him at all times. Adell alleges that sharing a cell with others requires that he compete for toilet access. He also explains that his frequent toilet use frustrates the sleep of his cell mates, which puts him at risk of physical violence when arguments flare up. He further explains that humiliation is an issue in the event that he soils himself. Such an event also risks that his cell mates could be exposed to waste. Adell communicated each of these considerations to Dr. Jeffrey Manlove during a January 8, 2019 appointment, and requested that Manlove order him to be placed in a single cell. Although Manlove declined to order single-cell placement because it was beyond his purview, he indicated that he would support such placement if consulted.

         Later the same day, Adell submitted a request for a single cell to the special needs committee, citing his medical conditions and each of the considerations he told Manlove. He also made a formal request for a single cell to Aimee Wilson, WCI's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator. Frustrated with delay, Adell contacted Brian Foster, WCI's warden, to complain about Wilson's lack of response. Adell also filed an inmate complaint about the special needs committee's delay. Wilson denied Adell's first request in a letter dated January 24, 2019, though Adell alleges he received the letter on February 1st. Adell filed a follow-up request with Wilson, which she denied, saying that Adell's request was a matter for Manlove and the special needs committee. On March 27, 2019, WCI Security Director Tony Meli notified Adell that his request to the special needs committee was denied.

         Adell separately alleges that various defendants failed to accommodate his sliding hernia, which he claims required “proper elevation.” Id. at 8. Adell claims that Sergeant Gau, who supervises WCI's laundry facility, issued him part of a blanket as an alternative to a “more efficient pillow” because “the MD order allowed him to issue such.” Id. at 9. Dissatisfied with this alternative, Adell asked WCI Health Services Unit (HSU) Manager Crystal Marchant for a bed wedge “as a reasonable alternative.” Id. Marchant later notified Adell that the special needs committee denied his bed wedge request. Adell alleges that Gau erroneously told Marchant that he gave Adell two pillows, and that Marchant “affirmed [Gau's] denials.” Id.

         Adell attempted to obtain the names of the members of the special needs and single cell committees from Marchant, but Marchant offered a vague response. Adell claims that Toni Moon rejected his inmate “complaint(s)” as untimely in retaliation for past complaints he filed against Moon. Id. at 10.

         The ...

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