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Wright v. Kovalchuk

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

November 4, 2019

AARON WRIGHT, Plaintiff,
v.
NURSE SVITTANA KOVALCHUK, Defendant.

          SCREENING ORDER

          William C. Griesbach, District Judge.

         Plaintiff Aaron Wright, who is currently serving a state prison sentence at Fox Lake Correctional Institution and representing himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights were violated. This matter comes before the court on Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the full filing fee and to screen the complaint.

         Motion to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee

         Plaintiff has requested leave to proceed without prepayment of the full filing fee (in forma pauperis). A prisoner plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis is required to pay the full amount of the $350.00 filing fee over time. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff has filed a certified copy of his prison trust account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of his complaint, as required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2), and has been assessed an initial partial filing fee. On October 21, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to waive the initial partial filing fee asserting that he does not have the funds in his trust account to pay the initial partial filing fee. On October 31, 2019, Plaintiff paid an initial partial filing fee of $3.20. The court will therefore deny Plaintiff's motion to waive the initial partial filing fee as moot and grant Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee. Plaintiff must pay the remainder of the filing fee over time in the manner explained at the end of this order.

         Screening of the Complaint

         The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). A claim 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).

         To state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, 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). The complaint must contain sufficient factual matter “that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The court accepts the factual allegations as true and liberally construes them in the plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 651 (7th Cir. 2013). Nevertheless, 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).

         Allegations of the Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that on February 21, 2018, Defendant gave Plaintiff the medication that belonged to Ronnie Wright, another inmate. After Plaintiff took Ronnie Wright's medication, Defendant gave Plaintiff his own medication, which Plaintiff also consumed. In all, Plaintiff took eleven pills causing him migraine headaches, lightheadedness, fainting, and psychological distress. He requests that the court award him $1, 050, 000.00 in damages.

         The Court's Analysis

         Plaintiff claims Defendant was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs when she gave him the wrong medication. The Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments.” U.S. Const. amend. VIII. It imposes a duty on prison officials to take reasonable measures to guarantee an inmate's safety and to ensure that the inmate receives adequate medical care. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). A prison official's “deliberate indifference” to a prisoner's medical needs or to a substantial risk of serious harm violates the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 828; Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976). This does not mean, however, that every claim by a prisoner that he has not received adequate medical treatment states a violation of the Eighth Amendment. To prove a claim of deliberate indifference, the plaintiff must allege that “he suffered from ‘an objectively serious medical condition' and that the ‘defendant was deliberately indifferent to that condition.'” Wilson v. Adams, 901 F.3d 816, 820 (7th Cir. 2018) (quoting Petties v. Carter, 836 F.3d 722, 728 (7th Cir. 2016)). A condition may be “objectively serious” if the failure to treat the condition would result in “further significant injury or the wanton infliction of pain” or where a reasonable doctor or patient would find treatment warranted. Gutierrez v. Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1373 (7th Cir. 1997). As to the second prong, deliberate indifference requires more than negligence or gross negligence; it requires that the defendant knew of, yet disregarded, an excessive risk to the plaintiff's health or safety. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835, 837; see also Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104.

         Although administering the wrong medication to a plaintiff may pose substantial risk of harm, the temporary symptoms Plaintiff experienced, including headache, lightheadedness, and fainting, are not sufficient to suggest that taking the medication placed Plaintiff at a substantial risk of serious harm. In addition, Defendant's isolated mistake does not raise a plausible inference of deliberate indifference. See Robbins v. Waupun Correctional Institution, No. 16-CV-1128, 2016 WL 5921822, at *3 (E.D. Wis. Oct. 11, 2016) (collecting cases). Defendant may have been negligent in administering the medication, but allegations of negligence are insufficient to support a claim of deliberate indifference. See Pierson v. Hartley, 391 F.3d 898, 902 (7th Cir. 2004) (“Negligence on the part of an official does not violate the Constitution, and it is not enough that he or she should have known of the risk.”). The complaint contains no allegations that Defendant intentionally or recklessly disregarded his serious medical needs. Plaintiff has provided no arguable basis for relief, having failed to make any rational argument in law or fact to support his claims. See House v. Belford, 956 F.2d 711, 720 (7th Cir. 1992) (quoting Williams v. Faulkner, 837 F.2d 304, 308 (7th Cir. 1988), aff'd sub nom. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989)).

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 2) is GRANTED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion to waive the initial partial filing fee ...


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