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Vinson v. Racine Police Department

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

October 8, 2019

JOSHUA LEE VINSON, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
RACINE POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendant.

          SCREENING ORDER

          WILLIAM E. DUFFIN, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Joshua Lee Vinson, Sr., an inmate confined at the Racine County Jail, filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his constitutional rights were violated. This order resolves Vinson's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee and his motion to waive the initial partial filing fee and screens his complaint.

         1. Motion for Leave to Proceed without Prepaying the Filing Fee

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) applies to this case because Vinson 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 September 19, 2019, the court ordered Vinson to pay an initial partial filing fee of $18.42. (ECF No. 8.) About a week later, Vinson filed a motion asking the court to waive the initial partial filing fee. (ECF No. 9.) He explains that his account balance is in the negative, he cannot earn money at the jail, and he has no outside financial support. The court will grant Vinson's motion to waive the initial partial filing fee and will grant his motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee. He must pay the $350 filing fee over time in the manner explained at the end of this order.

         2. Screening the Complaint

         2.1 Federal Screening Standard

         Under the PLRA, the court 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). The court 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, the court applies 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)). The court construes pro se complaints liberally and holds 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)).

         2.2 Vinson's Allegations

         Vinson alleges that in 2015 a Racine police officer pulled him over because he had unregistered license plates. According to Vinson, one officer reached in his car through his open window and unlocked his door, a second officer broke his passenger-side window, and a third officer broke his rear driver-side window. Vinson asserts that all three officers tazed him at the same time, at which time he allegedly died. Vinson states he came back to life from multiple punches and kicks to his head as well as a dog biting him.

         According to Vinson, two officers took him to the hospital, but they told him they would take him to the woods and kill him if he told anyone what had happened. Vinson alleges that the case against him was eventually dismissed. He also states that he has been afraid for his life for the last four years.

         2.3 ...


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