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Hoskins v. Fisher

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

July 11, 2019

MICHAEL S. HOSKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. FISHER, OFFICER MAITLAND, JOHN DOE, and HSU MANAGER, Defendants.

          SCREENING ORDER

          WILLIAM C. GRIESBACH, CHIEF JUDGE

         The plaintiff, who is currently serving a state prison sentence at Waupun Correctional Institution 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 the plaintiff'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

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) applies to this case because the plaintiff was a prisoner when he filed his complaint. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h). The PLRA allows the court to give a prisoner plaintiff the ability to proceed with his case without prepaying the civil case filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2). When funds exist, the prisoner must pay an initial partial filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). He must then pay the balance of the $350 filing fee over time, through deductions from his prisoner account. Id.

         Here, the plaintiff lacks the funds to pay the partial filing fee. Therefore, the court waives the initial partial filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4). The court will grant the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee. Even though the court waives the initial partial filing fee, the plaintiff must pay the remainder of the filing fee over time in the manner explained at the end of this order.

         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

         The plaintiff alleges that on or around April 7, 2019, he had a seizure in his cell while in the restrictive housing unit (RHU) of Waupun Correctional Institution that knocked him out. When he awoke, he felt as if he had hit his head against the wall. The plaintiff pressed the panic button in his cell and told an unidentified officer through the his cell intercom that he had just had a seizure and that he needed to see a nurse. The officer allegedly told the plaintiff to tell his range officer about his seizure and hung up. The plaintiff pressed the panic button again, and the same officer again allegedly told the plaintiff to tell his range officer about his seizure and hung up. The plaintiff states he waited 30 minutes before he saw his range officer, Officer Maitland. The plaintiff asked Maitland if he knew about his seizure. Maitland allegedly told the plaintiff that he was unaware of the plaintiff's seizure and that if he had known he would have come to his cell. The plaintiff informed Maitland that he has a seizure disorder, that he had just had a seizure, and that he hit his head as a result of it. Officer Maitland said that he understood.

         The plaintiff also states in his complaint that “Sgt. Fisher along with the John Doe officer in the Bubble [who responded to him over the intercom] [are] aware of my seizure disorder and when [the plaintiff] [has] seizures Sgt. Fisher nor the officer in the Bubble will do anything, not even call the nurse.” Dkt. No. 1 at 1. The plaintiff informed the health services unit (HSU) about the RHU officers' alleged failure to respond to his seizures. The HSU allegedly told the plaintiff that “his life is in the hands of the security” officers. Id. The plaintiff states that all the officers do is notify their supervisors who allegedly said “they can't wait until [the plaintiff] die[s] in here.” Id. The plaintiff is seeking monetary damages and to enjoin the warden “to stop his official[s] from using retaliatory actions against me.” Id. at 3.

         The Court's Analysis

         The Eighth Amendment prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment as a sentence for a crime. U.S. Const. amend. VIII. It protects an inmate from a governmental actor's deliberate indifference to his basic needs, including an inmate's medical needs. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105 (1976). To state a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, a plaintiff must allege an objectively serious medical condition and that an official was subjectively aware of that condition and deliberately indifferent to it. Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768, 776 (7th Cir. 2015); Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675, 679 (7th Cir. 2008).

         Taking the plaintiff's allegations as true, which the court must do at this stage, the complaint sufficiently states a claim against the John Doe officer who answered the plaintiff's intercom call. The plaintiff informed the John Doe officer that he had just suffered a seizure, he had hit his head against the wall as a result, and that he needed to see a nurse. The John Doe officer took no action in response and told the plaintiff to speak with his range officer. A prison official's decision to ignore a request for medical assistance can be enough to show deliberate indifference. Petties v. Carter, 836 F.3d 722, 729 ...


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