United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge
April 25, 2019, Plaintiff, a prisoner proceeding pro
se, filed a complaint and a motion for leave to proceed
without prepayment of the filing fee. (Docket #1, #2). In an
order dated June 18, 2019, the Court directed Plaintiff to
pay an initial partial filing fee (“IPFF”) of
$21.40, based on the three months of prisoner trust account
statements that immediately preceded the filing of the
complaint. (Docket #6). On July 2, 2019, Plaintiff filed a
motion to waive the IPFF, attaching additional prisoner trust
account statements for the months of May and June, which
reflect much lower balances. (Docket #7). Effectively,
Plaintiff had one large deposit when he first entered prison,
which comprised all of his finances. Id. He has had
a zero-balance for the last four months. The Court will
therefore waive the initial partial filing fee, with the
caveat that if and when Plaintiff begins receiving money, he
will be charged in accordance with the terms of 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(b)(2) (explained below).
that issue disposed of, the Court will proceed to screen
Plaintiff's complaint. The Court shall screen complaints
brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental
entity or an 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. Id. § 1915A(b).
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). The Court may, therefore, dismiss a
claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably
meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are
clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327.
“Malicious, ” although sometimes treated as a
synonym for “frivolous, ” “is more usefully
construed as intended to harass.” Lindell v.
McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107, 1109- 10 (7th Cir. 2003)
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). It is not
necessary for the plaintiff to plead specific facts and his
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 mere
“labels and conclusions” or a “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's
allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).
considering whether a complaint states a claim, courts should
follow the principles set forth in Twombly by first,
“identifying pleadings that, because they are no more
than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Legal
conclusions must be supported by factual allegations.
Id. If there are well-pleaded factual allegations,
the Court must, second, “assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
to relief.” Id.
state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that: 1) he was deprived of a right
secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and
2) the deprivation was visited upon him by a person or
persons acting under color of state law. Buchanan-Moore
v. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir.
2009) (citing Kramer v. Vill. of N. Fond du Lac, 384
F.3d 856, 861 (7th Cir. 2004)); see also Gomez v.
Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). The Court is obliged
to give the plaintiff's pro se allegations,
“however inartfully pleaded, ” a liberal
construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97,
is a pre-trial detainee at the Kenosha County Detention
Center (“KCDC”) in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Docket #1
at 2). He claims that on January 16, 2019, he was
“forced to work without consent and compensation [even
though he was] not sentenced to a crime.” Id.
When he protested, he was taken to disciplinary segregation,
where he was confined for three days. He claims that after
this, he was forced to clean on several other occasions
without his consent or compensation, under threat of
disciplinary segregation. This caused him severe mental
disturbances and led him to self-harm. He does not allege
that any of the named defendants ignored his self-harm
Thirteenth Amendment prohibits slavery and involuntary
servitude “except as a punishment for crime whereof the
party shall have been duly convicted.” U.S. Const.
amend. XIII, § 1. Involuntary servitude is defined as
“a condition of servitude in which the victim is forced
to work. . .by the use or threat of physical restraint or
physical injury, or by the use or threat of coercion through
law or the legal process.” United States v.
Kozminski, 487 U.S. 931, 952 (1988). Under the
Thirteenth Amendment, pre-trial detainees cannot be subject
to involuntary servitude. McGarry v. Pallito, 687
F.3d 505, 511-12 (2d Cir. 2012) (finding that a plaintiff
stated a claim under the Thirteenth Amendment when he alleged
that jail officials threatened him with solitary confinement
if he did not work in the prison laundry); but see Bijeol
v. Nelson, 579 F.2d 423, 424 (7th Cir. 1978) (holding
that “[d]aily general housekeeping responsibilities are
not punitive in nature and for health and safety must be
alleges that, prior to any adjudication of guilt, he was
forced to work against his will on several occasions for no
compensation, under threat of disciplinary segregation if he
did not cooperate. Plaintiff does not say what he was forced
to clean, but the Court, at this stage, is obliged to
liberally construe the pleadings. Therefore, Plaintiff may
proceed on his claim of involuntary servitude in violation of
the Thirteenth Amendment.
“under the Due Process Clause [of the Fourteenth
Amendment], a detainee may not be punished prior to an
adjudication of guilt in accordance with due process of
law.” Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535
(1979). While the government may detain the inmate “to
ensure his presence at trial, ” the government must
also ensure that the detention facility's
“conditions and restrictions do not amount to
punishment[.]” Id. at 536-37. Accordingly,
“[t]he state cannot place a detainee in segregation for
no reason[.]” Zarnes v. Rhodes, 64 F.3d 285,
291 (7th Cir. 1995) (citing Hawkins v. Poole, 779
F.2d 1267, 1269 (7th Cir. 1985)).
alleges that when he refused to clean, he was summarily
punished in disciplinary segregation for three days for no
other reason than that he attempted to assert his Thirteenth
Amendment right. Generously construed, Plaintiff has also
stated a claim for a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment
right to be free from punishment without due process of law.
may therefore proceed on two claims: (1) a Thirteenth
Amendment claim for involuntary servitude; and (2) a
Fourteenth Amendment claim that he was punished without due
process of law.
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion
for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee
(in forma pauperis) ...