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Jett v. Eckstein

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

November 6, 2019

RODNEY JETT, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT M. ECKSTEIN, et al., Defendants.

          SCREENING ORDER

          WILLIAM E. DUFFIN U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Rodney Jett, an inmate confined at Green Bay Correctional Institution, filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the defendants violated his constitutional rights. This order resolves Jett's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee and screens his complaint.

         The court has jurisdiction to resolve Jett's motion to proceed without prepaying the filing fee and to screen the complaint in light of Jett's consent to the full jurisdiction of a magistrate judge and the Wisconsin Department of Justice's limited consent to the exercise of magistrate judge jurisdiction as set forth in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Wisconsin Department of Justice and this court.

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

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) applies to this case because Jett 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 30, 2019, the court ordered Jett to pay an initial partial filing fee of $28.30. (ECF No. 7.) Jett paid that fee on October 31, 2019. The court will grant Jett's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee. He must pay the remainder of the 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 Jett's Allegations

         Jett alleges that, on March 21, 2018, unidentified officers unnecessarily used an incapacitating chemical agent in an excessive amount on another inmate living on the restricted housing unit. According to Jett, officers did not turn off the air handlers prior to using the chemical agent. As a result, the chemical agent allegedly filled Jett's cell.

         Jett explains that he has asthma and exposure to the chemical agent made it difficult for him to breathe. Jett states that he suffered “non-stop gagging, coughing and choking constantly, causing his eyes, sinus, and lungs to constantly burn causing [him] to constantly be in pain for several hours, believing he was going to die.” (ECF No. 1 at 3.) Jett alleges that he pushed his emergency call button and explained that his asthma was giving him problems and ...


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