United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
MICHAEL S. HOSKINS, Plaintiff,
BRIAN FOSTER, OFFICER BEAHM, CAPTAIN WESTRA, and T. MOON, Defendants.
William C. Griesbach, District United States District Judge.
Michael S. Hoskins, who was incarcerated at Waupun
Correctional Institution at the time of the alleged incident,
but was released on extended supervision on October 1, 2019,
filed a pro se complaint on October 16, 2019, under
42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights were
violated. This matter comes before the court on Hoskins'
motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the full filing
fee and to screen the complaint.
to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee
has filed a motion to proceed without prepaying the filing
fee. Dkt. No. 2. A review of Hoskins' motion reveals that
he owes $18, 000 in restitution, lacks any financial
accounts, does not have any significant property, and has not
indicated that he has any source of income. Dkt. No. 2.
Accordingly, the court will grant Hoskins' motion to
proceed without prepaying the filing fee.
of the Complaint
court has a duty to review the complaint and dismiss the case
if it appears that the complaint fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. See Hoskins v.
Polestra, 320 F.3d 761, 763 (7th Cir. 2003). In
screening a complaint, I must determine whether the complaint
complies with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and states
at least plausible claims for which relief may be granted. A
complaint, or portion thereof, should be dismissed for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if
it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set
of facts in support of the claim that would entitle him to
relief. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69,
73 (1984) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41,
state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading
system, the 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
plaintiff's statements must “give the defendant
fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon
which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley, 355 U.S.
at 47). However, a complaint that offers “labels and
conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). To state a claim, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, “that is plausible on its face.”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The complaint's
allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The court is obliged to give
the plaintiff's pro se allegations, however
inartfully pleaded, a liberal construction. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
of the Complaint
alleges that in July 2019 he was placed in confinement for
120 days because he attempted to reach out to a detective
about the killing of an inmate at Waupun Correctional
Institution. While confined, Hoskins had no access to
windows, television, the telephone, or recreation.
wrote to the prison warden and complained about his
conditions of confinement. The Warden responded by stating
that “this was just on what his officers was [sic]
doing.” Dkt. No. 1 at 2. Captain Westra later told
Hoskins that he was going to learn a lesson for telling about
what was going on in the prison. Subsequently, Officer Beahm
removed Hoskins' clothing and put him in a cold cell for
over 48 hours. Hoskins alleges that the cold air almost
killed him. Officer Beahm and other officers told Hoskins
that he “didn't know where you at
‘boy.'” Id. at 3.
allegations before the court are that Officer Beahm, with
Captain Westra's approval, deprived Hoskins of
privileges, placed him in segregation, and then stripped him
naked and held him in a cold cell for 48 hours in retaliation
for his attempt to speak to a detective investigating a death
at the prison. Hoskins claims he complained to the Warden
Foster, who suggested that he was fine with what his officers
were doing to Hoskins. As shocking as they may appear,
Hoskins' allegations must be accepted as true at this
stage of the proceedings. Accepting them as true, they are
sufficient to support two claims against Officer Beahm,
Captain Westra, and Warden Foster.
the allegations support a claim for First Amendment
retaliation against these defendants. To prevail on his
§ 1983 claim of First Amendment retaliation, a plaintiff
must show that (1) he engaged in activity protected by the
First Amendment; (2) he suffered a deprivation that would
likely deter First Amendment activity in the future; and (3)
a causal connection between the two. Watkins v.
Kasper, 599 F.3d 791, 794 (7th Cir. 2010). An
inmate's report of a crime committed in prison is clearly
protected by the First Amendment. “[A] prison inmate
retains those First Amendment rights that are not
inconsistent with his status as a prisoner or with the
legitimate penological objectives of the corrections
system.” Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 822
(1974). Certainly, cooperating in the investigation of a
homicide that allegedly occurred within the prison is not
inconsistent with an inmate's status as a prisoner or
with the legitimate penological objectives of the corrections
system. Placement in segregation with the denial of telephone
and television privileges is the kind of deprivation that
would likely deter First Amendment activity in the future.
And the alleged statement by Captain Westra to the effect
that Hoskins was being given “a lesson about telling
what goes on in Waupun” is sufficient to establish a
causal connection between the protected speech and the
complaint is also sufficient to state a claim against these
same defendants under the Eighth Amendment. Conditions of
confinement in a prison violate the Eighth Amendment's
prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment when “there
is a deprivation that is, from an objective standpoint,
sufficiently serious that it results ‘in the denial of
“the minimal civilized measure of life's
necessities.”'” Gray v. Hardy, 826
F.3d 1000, 1005 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)). A prison condition
does not rise to the level of cruel and unusual punishment
unless the condition produces “the deprivation of a
single, identifiable human need such as food, warmth, or
exercise.” Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 299
(1991). A prison official is liable for such deprivation when
he intentionally subjects the inmate to conditions that
amount to cruel and unusual punishment, or is deliberately