United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
D. PETERSON, District Judge.
plaintiff Noah Clark says that defendant Kevin Reinikain and
other police officers searched and seized him without
probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Because
Clark is proceeding in forma pauperis, I must screen
the complaint and dismiss any portion that is legally
frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a
defendant who by law cannot be sued for money damages. 28
U.S.C. § 1915. In doing so, I must read the complaint
generously, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 521
(1972) (per curiam), and accept Clark's allegations as
true, see Bonte v. U.S Bank, N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 463
(7th Cir. 2010).
reasons explained below, I conclude that Clark's
allegations are too vague to satisfy Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8. I will dismiss his complaint and give him a
chance to file an amended complaint that more fully explains
the facts of the case.
the following facts from Clark's complaint, Dkt. 1, and
accept them as true at the screening stage.
18, 2017, Clark went to Debbie Wood's residence in
Cameron, Wisconsin, to deliver landscaping materials. (Clark
does not explain whether he has a personal relationship with
Wood or was delivering these materials as part of his job.)
Clark did not know that defendant officer Kevin Reinikain was
inside Wood's house with other police officers. When
Clark knocked on the door, he was told to enter the house
“as if prompted by the owner.” Id. at 3.
Clark went inside, and the officers “conducted an
illegal search and seizure upon [his] person.”
Id. The officers knew that if they bullied Clark,
who is documented as mentally ill, they could get “an
easy conviction based on illegal tactics.” Id.
Rule of Civil Procedure 8 requires a plaintiff to include in
his complaint “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that [he] is entitled to relief.” The primary
purpose of this rule is fair notice. A complaint “must
be presented with intelligibility sufficient for a court or
opposing party to understand whether a valid claim is alleged
and if so what it is.” Vicom, Inc. v. Harbridge
Merchant Serv's, Inc., 20 F.3d 771, 775 (7th Cir.
says that Reinikain and the other officers violated the
Fourth Amendment. But it's not clear from Clark's
complaint what exactly the defendants did that Clark believes
is prohibited by the Fourth Amendment. It is not illegal for
an officer to ask a person questions or invite someone into a
house. Clark says that the officers “seized” him,
but he does not explain if the officers arrested him or
forced him to remain in the house after he entered. Clark
also says that he officers conducted a search, but he does
not explain whether the officers searched his possessions,
patted him down, or something else.
also says that the officers wanted to get an easy conviction.
But he does not explain if he was convicted of a crime, or
even charged with one. If Clark has been charged with a
crime, and there are still ongoing state criminal
proceedings, then I may need to dismiss the case so as not to
interfere with those proceedings. See Sweeney v.
Bartow, 612 F.3d 571, 573 (7th Cir. 2010) (federal
courts should “abstain from interfering with pending
state proceedings to enforce a state's criminal
laws”) (citing Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37
dismiss Clark's complaint and give Clark a short time to
file an amended complaint that clearly states the facts of
the case. Clark should write his complaint as if he is
telling a story to people who know nothing about the
situation. He should describe everything that the defendants
did and said to him, and what he did in response. Clark
should also clarify whether he was arrested or charged with a
crime, and, if so, whether he was convicted. If Clark does
not submit an amended complaint by the deadline set forth
below, I will dismiss his case.
Plaintiff Noah Clark's ...