United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.
has filed a pro se complaint in this court regarding
a dispute with his former landlord, as well as a motion to
proceed without prepayment of the filing fee. (Docket #1,
In order to allow a plaintiff to proceed without paying the
$400 filing fee, the Court must first decide whether
Plaintiff has the ability to pay the filing fee and, if not,
whether the lawsuit states a claim for relief. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a), (e)(2)(B).
case, the Court need not consider Plaintiff's financial
means or his ability to pay the filing fee. Notwithstanding
the payment of any filing fee, when a plaintiff requests
leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court must
screen the complaint and dismiss it, or any portion thereof,
if it raises claims that are legally “frivolous or
malicious, ” fails to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who
is immune from such relief. Id. §
1915(e)(2)(B); Hoskins v. Poelstra, 320 F.3d 761,
763 (7th Cir. 2003) (holding that “[d]istrict judges
have ample authority to dismiss frivolous or transparently
defective suits spontaneously, and thus save everyone time
and legal expense.”). 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);
Hutchinson ex rel. Baker v. Spink, 126 F.3d 895, 900
(7th Cir. 1997). The Court may dismiss a claim as frivolous
where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory
or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).
state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading
system, a 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). It is not necessary to
plead specific facts; rather, the plaintiff's statement
need only “give the defendant fair notice of what the.
. .claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)
(quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).
However, a complaint that offers “labels and
conclusions” or “formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). To state a claim, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, “that is plausible on its face.”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The complaint allegations
“must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555
complaint falls short of even this low bar. Plaintiff
describes how he was a long-time tenant of Defendant Joah
Tucker's (“Defendant Tucker”), and had lived
in three of Defendant Tucker's properties over the
years. (Docket #1 at 2). When Plaintiff moved
into the third property, he apparently forgot to close his
energy account with WE Energies. The subsequent tenant ran up
a thousand-dollar energy bill, leaving Plaintiff responsible
for it. WE Energies would only correct the error if Defendant
Tucker informed them that he had allowed a new tenant to move
in without opening a new account. Defendant Tucker refused;
he was apparently angry because Plaintiff owed him money. As
a result, Plaintiff sat in the dark for two months while he
tried to save enough money to pay for an energy bill that was
not his. He explains that during this time, he fell behind on
rent, but “caught back up soon thereafter, all on
handshake deals.” Id. It is unclear whether
this means that Defendant Tucker agreed to waive the rent
that was in arrears.
months into his new tenancy, Plaintiff went to Arkansas,
leaving a key with his brother. Plaintiff believes that
Defendant Tucker took the key from his brother and unlawfully
inhabited his space, causing minor property damage to his
mattress. Defendant Tucker refused to return the key, and
Plaintiff began to think that Defendant Tucker was
surveilling the residence with microphones. Defendant Tucker
also made unwanted sexual advances towards Plaintiff, which
Plaintiff found harassing and predatory because Plaintiff is
heterosexual. Plaintiff fell behind in rent again, and
Defendant Tucker evicted Plaintiff. Plaintiff moved out
without a fight, in light of how sexually forward Defendant
Tucker had been with him.
Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against
anyone in the sale or rental of housing based on their race,
color, religion, sex, family status, or national origin. 42
U.S.C. § 3604. Plaintiff's complaint states that he
was evicted as a result of his failure to pay rent despite
apparent verbal agreements that he had with Defendant Tucker.
He also complains that he paid a utility bill that was not
his. These landlord-tenant issues are not actionable under
the Fair Housing Act, and there is no other basis for federal
jurisdiction because the parties are all from Wisconsin.
(Docket #1 at 1-2); 28 U.S.C. § 1332. While
discrimination based on sexual orientation is actionable
under the Fair Housing Act, Plaintiff does not allege that he
was evicted for his heterosexuality, or that the harassment
that he experienced was “severe or pervasive.”
Wetzel v. Glen St. Andrew Living Comm., LLC, 901
F.3d 856, 862 (7thCir. 2018). Therefore, his complaint must
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion
for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Docket #2)
be and the same is hereby DENIED as moot;
IS FURTHER ORDERED that this action be and the same
is hereby DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) for failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted.
Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment accordingly.
Plaintiff is currently detained at
Mendota Mental Health Institute following a finding of
“guilty but not guilty due to mental
disease/defect” on a charge of reckless homicide in
Milwaukee County Circuit Court. State of Wisconsin v.
Amontre Ross, No. 2017CF000459, available at
https://wcca.wicourts.gov. In light of the “not
guilty” determination, he is technically not a
“prisoner” for the purposes of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(h); Banks v. Robert, No.
16-cv-720-PP, 2017 WL 1902707, at *2 (E.D. Wis. May 8, 2017)
(citing Kolocotronis v. Morgan, 247 F.3d 726, 728
(8th Cir. 2011)).
 “Tucker Investments”
appears to be the name of Defendant Tucker's rental
operation. For the purposes of this order, all references to
Defendant Tucker in his capacity as a landlord ...