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Lindell v. Pollard

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

July 25, 2019

NATE A. LINDELL, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM POLLARD, ANTHONY MELI, ED WALL, LT. DANIEL CUSHING, JOHN DOES, Defendants.

          SCREENING ORDER

          LYNN ADELMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Nate A. Lindell, an inmate confined at the Columbia Correctional Institution, filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the defendants violated his constitutional rights. This order resolves plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee and screens his complaint.

         I. MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYING THE FILING FEE

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) applies to this case because 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.

         On May 31, 2019, I ordered that plaintiff did not have to pay an initial partial filing fee and gave him twenty-one days to voluntarily dismiss this case. (ECF No. 6.) Plaintiff did not voluntarily dismiss the case. I will grant plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee. He must pay the remainder of the filing fee over time in the manner explained at the end of this order.

         II. SCREENING THE COMPLAINT

         A. Federal Screening Standard

         Under the PLRA, I must screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). I must dismiss a complaint if the prisoner raises 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).

         In determining whether the complaint states a claim, I apply the same standard that applies to dismissals under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Cesal v. Moats, 851 F.3d 714, 720 (7th Cir. 2017) (citing Booker-El v. Superintendent, Ind. State Prison, 668 F.3d 896, 899 (7th Cir. 2012)). To state a claim, a complaint must include “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint must contain enough facts, accepted as true, to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows a court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that someone deprived him of a right secured by the Constitution or the laws of the United States, and that whoever deprived him of this right was acting under the color of state law. D.S. v. E. Porter Cty. Sch. Corp., 799 F.3d 793, 798 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing Buchanan- Moore v. Cty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009)). I construe pro se complaints liberally and hold them to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers. Cesal, 851 F.3d at 720 (citing Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768, 776 (7th Cir. 2015)).

         B. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is suing former Wisconsin Department of Corrections Secretary Ed Wall; former Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI) Warden William Pollard; WCI Security Director Anthony Meli; former WCI Correctional Officer Daniel Cushing; and unidentified Doe defendants. He sues all defendants in their individual capacities.

         Plaintiff alleges that shortly after he arrived at WCI in early January of 2013, he heard staff severely injure another inmate. Plaintiff also heard from other prisoners that staff sexually assaulted them during what staff called “staff-assisted strip searches.” Defendant John Doe #1, a supervisory official at WCI, directed subordinates to perform staff-assisted strip searches on any prisoners who were placed in control status, which is a status that prisoners were automatically put in when staff accused them of resisting or attacking staff, or damaging their cells.

         Defendant Meli issued conduct reports to prisoners who filed PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) complaints about staff, charging the prisoners with lying about staff. This deterred prisoners from complaining about staff and emboldened staff to ...


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