United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
MICHAEL T. WINIUS, Plaintiff,
KRISTEN L. PAWLAK, LISA BUHS, PAUL KEMPER, ROBIN DIEBOLD, CPT. THOMAS WIEGAN, MARK HIESE, JON E. LITSCHER, and STEVEN JOHNSON, Defendants.
William C. Griesbach, United States District Court Chief
26, 2018, Plaintiff Michael T. Winius, who is currently
serving a state prison sentence at Prairie Du Chien
Correctional Institution (PDCI) and representing himself,
filed a complaint in Dane County Circuit Court under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants removed the action to the U.S.
District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on
February 27, 2019 and filed a motion to transfer the case to
this court. After briefing on the motion, the Western
District court granted Defendants' motion and transferred
the case to this court on June 27, 2019. In the transfer
order, the court noted that “the complaint has not yet
been screened under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.” Dkt. No. 9
at 5. The $400 filing fee was paid upon removal to the
Western District. See Dkt. No. 1, Docket Text. The
court will now proceed to screen Winius' complaint, as
required under § 1915A.
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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, 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).
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all times relevant to this action, Winius was confined in
Racine Correctional Institution (RCI) and each of the
defendants was employed at RCI, with the exception of Mark
Hiese and Jon Litscher, who worked for the Wisconsin
Department of Corrections (DOC) in more general roles. In
October 2017, the same month that Winius filed a lawsuit
(17-CV-1455) against Lisa Buhs and Kristen Pawlak in this
court, Winius' fiancée, Spring Ristola, discovered
that Pawlak, a social worker and co-facilitator of RCI's
Beacon sex offender treatment program, was blogging about
Winius and other Beacon participants. While Winius was not
personally named in the blog posts, he alleges that Pawlak
included sufficient information for him to be identified and
disclosed his sensitive health and treatment information.
Winius alleges that, in her blog, Pawlak referred to Winius
and his peers as psychopaths, degenerates, con men, nasty sex
offenders, and narcissists.
October 31 and November 1, 2017, Winius and Ristola filed
complaints about Pawlak's blogging and notified Buhs, an
RCI psychologist and co-facilitator of the Beacon program,
and RCI Warden Paul Kemper about the conduct. Winius alleges
that Buhs and Pawlak knew about his intent to file 17-CV-1455
before its filing. He alleges that after he filed 17-CV-1455
and reported Pawlak's blogging activities, the defendants
“engaged in an all-out retaliatory campaign against
[him.” Dkt. No. 1-1 at 4. The complaint identifies
numerous instances of retaliatory conduct beginning from
prior to the filing of 17-CV-1455 and continuing for several
months after its filing. These instances include:
June 12, 2017: Winius applied to add Seanne Ristola
and A.S.R., Spring Ristola's daughters, to his visitation
list. Some months later (presumably after October 2017),
Kemper and DOC Secretary Litscher denied the visitation
request and ensuing appeals based on Pawlak's false
October 20, 2017: Pawlak completed DOC forms 745,
1423, and 3484, each of which was riddled with false
information and errors, according to Winius. Winius alleges
that Pawlak knew these forms would carry weight in the
DOC's visitation and Program Review Committee (PRC)
determinations, among other things.
November 8, 2017: Buhs, Kemper, RCI Deputy Warden
Steven Johnson, and Captain Thomas Wiegan ordered, and RCI
Prison Rape Eliminate Act Coordinator Robin Diebold
conducted, a 70-minute cell search of Winius' cell,
leaving his cell “in total ruin.” November 9,
2017: Buhs authored an allegedly false conduct report
with contributions from Pawlak, Kemper, Johnson, Diebold, and
Wiegan, as well as other Beacon participants. The next day,
on November 10, 2017, Winius was placed in the Restrictive
Housing Unit (RHU) until December 1, 2017. Winius claims the
advocate he was assigned for the conduct report hearing,
whose family member was friends with Buhs and Pawlak, had a
conflict of interest. Winius also claims that Diebold and
Wiegan denied him access to legal materials for 17-CV-1455
while he was in RHU.
December 4, 2017: Upon release from RHU, Winius was
placed in Green-West Unit, a behavioral modification unit,
rather than in general population. Wiegan informed Winius
that his conduct hearing had been postponed for 21 days and
that a guilty plea would result in an 8-day confinement while
not taking the plea could result in a year in RHU. Given the
risk of year-long placement in RHU, Winius reluctantly
entered a guilty plea despite believing himself innocent of
December 5, 2017: Winius was transferred from
Green-West Unit cell 111 to 114, which had an unsecured door
that, on December 7, resulted in $62 dollars being stolen
from his cell.
December 7, 2017: A PRC hearing was held to
determine whether and where Winius would be transferred.
Winius alleges that Wiegan, Johnson, Kemper, and Director of
the Bureau of Offender Classification and Movement Hiese
circumvented Wisconsin Administrative Code DOC Chapter 302
and decided to transfer him to PDCI to impede his pre-release
initiatives, to prevent him from ...