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Kreger-Mueller v. Withee

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

September 25, 2019

VALERIE KREGER-MUELLER, Plaintiff,
v.
DANIEL WITHEE, JULIA CARBON, MICHAEL ASH, DAN JONES, BENJAMIN ENGSTROM, GREGORY DIXON, ROBERT MAIER, HOWARD STATZ, NICHOLAS STROIK, COSTIN TURTURNEANU, DAVID KASDORF, STEVEN ZIEGLER, SCOTT MOEN, MICHAEL ASH, KENNETH SMITH, DARREN ZIMMERMAN, NICK STROIK, TYLER LOETHER, JESUS GAMA, JILL TUTAJ, RYAN ROETTGER, TERRY HANSON, JESSE SELLEK, MATTHEW JACOBS, and CHUCK FOULKE, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON District Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Valerie Kreger-Mueller filed a proposed civil action against numerous institutional defendants, including a police department, a county government office, and various health care institutions in Dane County. See Kreger-Mueller v. City of Middleton Police Dep’t, No. 18-cv-708-jdp, Dkt. 1 and Dkt. 5. In a December 6, 2018 order, I reviewed her initial complaint and amended complaint and concluded that they failed to state claims upon which relief could be granted because, among other things, they violated Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8, 18, and 20. I offered Kreger-Mueller an opportunity to file an amended complaint identifying which one of the eight possible lawsuits from her complaint she wished to proceed on under this case number. No. 18-cv-708, Dkt. 7.

         Kreger-Mueller responded by filing two complaints-one against 25 officers from the Middleton Police Department, No. 18-cv-708, Dkt. 13, and another against 20 individuals from local health clinics and community agencies and three attorneys for the Dane County Corporation Counsel. No. 18-cv-708, Dkt. 21. The lawsuits could not proceed under a single case number, so I directed the clerk of court to open a new case for Kreger-Mueller’s complaint against the Middleton police officers. No. 18-cv-708, Dkt. 22. I also determined that Kreger-Mueller could proceed in forma pauperis. All further docket citations are to this case (19-cv-741-jdp), which relates to Kreger-Mueller’s complaint against the Middleton police officers.

         In this order, I will screen Kreger-Mueller’s amended complaint against the 25 Middleton police officers. Dkt. 1. In doing so, I must dismiss any portion that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law cannot be sued for money damages. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Kreger-Mueller’s amended complaint suffers from many of the same defects as her original filings. With the exception of two sets of claims (one set against defendants Howard Statz, Daniel Withee, and Robert Maier, and the other against Benjamin Engstrom), Kreger-Mueller’s amended complaint fails to assert claims upon which relief can be granted. And the two sets of allegations that do state claims for relief arise out of unrelated events and cannot be pursued in the same lawsuit. Rather than ordering Kreger-Mueller to file yet another amended complaint, I will grant her leave to proceed on claims against defendants Statz, Withee, and Maier. I will dismiss her claims against Engstrom without prejudice to Kreger-Mueller filing a separate lawsuit against him.

         In addition to an amended complaint, Kreger-Mueller has filed a motion for injunctive relief, Dkt. 2, and a motion to seal the records in this case, Dkt. 3. I will deny those motions for the reasons explained below.

         ANALYSIS

         Kreger-Mueller’s amended complaint contains the following allegations:

1) On August 23, 2016, defendant Officers Statz, Withee, and Maier unlawfully took Kreger-Mueller into custody. First, they held her in a squad car until 4:30 p.m., which caused her to miss a deadline in a legal matter. Then, they caused her to be held for three days at Winnebago Mental Health Institute. Kreger-Mueller was given a drug that makes her recollection “foggy, ” and when she awoke at the facility, she had no clothes and no memory of how she became unclothed. Dkt. 1, ¶ 1. She was also forced to submit to a blood and urine test, even though there was no suspicion of drug or alcohol use.
2) On August 23, 2016, Withee touched Kreger-Mueller’s inner thigh while securing her seatbelt in the back of a squad car.
3) On August 30, 2016, Middleton police officers (she doesn’t say which ones) again unlawfully took Kreger-Mueller into custody. This time, she was held at a health care facility for three weeks, even though she was not a danger to herself or others.
4) Kreger-Mueller did not receive a due process hearing “until 2–3 weeks later after being in custody that long.” Id. at 4.
5) Defendants Dan Jones and Chuck Foulke “dismissed a sexual abuse/assault claim for no logical reason.” Id. ¶ 5. Kreger-Mueller reported allegations that the father of her child had touched the child inappropriately. Jones interviewed the child out of Kreger-Mueller’s presence, and ultimately the Middleton Police did not file charges against the child’s father.
6) In October 2016, Kreger-Mueller lost primary custody of her child to the child’s father, even though the father “has committed sexual assault to this child” and has “done a very poor job parenting.” Id. ¶ 7. The Middleton Police Department assisted the child’s father in obtaining full custody by repeatedly falsely arresting Kreger-Mueller with no probable cause. In so doing, “the officers named [as defendants] have all been involved in allowing [the child’s father] to continuously commit domestic abuse and sexual assault of a child, neglect and abuse of a child, drive under the influence with the child in the car, etc.” Id. ¶ 9.
7) The “named defendants have lied” about Kreger-Mueller under oath in “several police reports going back to 2009.” Id. ¶ 3. Most recently, on March 1, 2018, defendant Benjamin Engstrom lied by stating that Kreger-Mueller’s residence was dirty.
8) On March 1, 2018, Engstrom “pinched the plaintiff and caused her injury to her ...

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