United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
JANMARION L. LOFTON, Plaintiff,
JANESVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT, ROCK COUNTY JAIL, and ROCK COUNTY JAIL MEDICAL, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE
se plaintiff Janmarion Lofton, has filed a proposed
civil complaint against defendants Janesville Police
Department, Rock County Jail and Rock County Jail Medical.
Lofton appears to be pursuing claims challenging (1) his
October 26, 2018, arrest and (2) the medical care he has
received since he has been held at the jail. Because Lofton
is a prisoner and proceeding without prepayment of the filing
fee, the court must screen the complaint under 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A, to determine whether he may
proceed with the case. While Lofton is held to a “less
stringent standard” in crafting pleadings, Haines
v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), this lawsuit is
subject to dismissal.
initial problem with plaintiff's complaint is that the
defendants -- a police department, jail and the medical staff
at the jail -- may not be sued under § 1983. Best v.
City of Portland, 554 F.3d 698, 698 n.1 (7th Cir. 2009)
(noting that “a police department is not a suable
entity under § 1983”); Smith v. Knox Cty.
Jail, 666 F.3d 1037, 1040 (7th Cir. 2012) (“A
prison or department in a prison cannot be sued because it
cannot accept service of the complaint.”). Accordingly,
these defendants must be dismissed with prejudice.
plaintiff's allegations do not support constitutional
claims, at least as currently pled. Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8 requires a “‘short and plain
statement of the claim' sufficient to notify the
defendants of the allegations against them and enable them to
file an answer.” Marshall v. Knight, 445 F.3d
965, 968 (7th Cir. 2006). Dismissal is proper “if the
complaint fails to set forth ‘enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
St. John's United Church of Christ v. City of
Chi., 502 F.3d 616, 625 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
plaintiff seeks to challenge the medical care he has received
since his arrest. The Court of Appeals for the Seventh
Circuit recently extended the standard set forth by the
Supreme Court in Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct.
2466, 2475 (2015), analyzing excessive force claims brought
by pretrial detainees, to medical care claims brought by
pretrial detainees. Specifically, in Miranda v. County of
Lake, 900 F.3d 335 (7th Cir. 2018), the Seventh Circuit
concluded that these claims are governed by the due process
clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and that the standard is
whether the defendant's actions were objectively
unreasonable given the circumstances. Id. at 352-53.
Therefore, under Kingsley and Miranda, the
failure to provide medical care violates the Due Process
Clause if: (1) the defendant acted with purposeful, knowing,
or reckless disregard of the consequences of their actions;
and (2) the defendant's conduct was objectively
unreasonable. Id. While it is not enough to show
negligence, the plaintiff is not required to prove the
defendant's subjective awareness that the conduct was
unreasonable. Id. at 353.
plaintiff claims that he did not receive required medications
on “several occasions, ” he has failed to allege
any details about his medical condition or identify the
medication for the court to determine whether these
allegations would support a finding that defendants'
actions were objectively unreasonable. More importantly,
plaintiff has not alleged that any staff at the jail (medical
or otherwise) knew that he needed his medications and either
refused to provide them or failed to take reasonable steps to
give him the treatment he needed. Without more information
about what jail staff either knew or failed to do, the court
cannot infer that they acted unreasonably.
while lacking in detail, Lofton also seeks to challenge the
validity of his October 26, 2018, arrest, claiming that he
was illegally stopped, searched and arrested without probable
cause because he is African American. He alleges that his
family has been torn apart as a result of his arrest. These
allegations could implicate his rights under the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendment. However, the court takes judicial
notice of the fact that Lofton has been found guilty of
violating Wis.Stat. § 961.41(1m)(cm)3, possession with
intent to distribute cocaine, and Wis.Stat. § 961.42(1),
maintaining a drug trafficking place. State of Wis. v.
Lofton, No. 2018CF1015 (Rock Cty., filed Oct. 29, 2018),
available at https://wcca.wicourts.gov (last visited
Aug. 28, 2019). The record of that proceeding indicates that
Lofton pled guilty to one of those counts on July 23, 2019,
and a judgment of conviction was entered on August 2, 2019.
It is unclear whether Lofton is appealing or pursuing
post-conviction relief. If, as it appears, this criminal case
stems from his October 26 arrest, then the court may need to
dismiss this case as to not interfere with those proceedings.
See Sweeney v. Bartow, 612 F.3d 571, 573 (7th Cir.
2010) (federal courts should “abstain from interfering
with pending state proceedings to enforce a state's
criminal laws”) (citing Younger v. Harris, 401
U.S. 37 (1971)).
these reasons, the court is dismissing Lofton's
complaint, but will give him a short window of time in which
to file an amended complaint. In crafting it, Lofton must
draft his amended complaint considering the principles and
standards laid out above, and write it as if he were telling
a story to people who know nothing about his situation. He
should state (1) what acts he believes violated his rights;
(2) what specific rights were violated; (3) who committed
each act; and (4) what relief he wants the court to provide.
Lofton should also be mindful that under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 20, if he asserts claims against multiple
defendants, the claims must arise out of the same transaction
or occurrence. Since it appears that his arrest and medical
care are unrelated, plaintiff may only proceed on these
claims in the same lawsuit if they involve at least one
common defendant. If Lofton fails to submit an amended
complaint by the deadline set below, the court will dismiss
the complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted.
Plaintiff Janmarion Lofton's complaint is DISMISSED
Plaintiff may have until November 1, 2019, to submit
an amended complaint that complies with Rule 8 and explains
whether his arrest is related to his ongoing criminal
Defendants Janesville Police Department, Rock County Jail and
Rock County Jail ...