United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
Stadtmueller, U.S. District Judge.
who is incarcerated at Dodge Correctional Institution
(“DCI”), filed a pro se complaint under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion to proceed in forma
pauperis. (Docket #1 and #2). Plaintiff has been
assessed and paid an initial partial filing fee of $21.06. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4).
filing his initial complaint, Plaintiff subsequently filed
two addenda to his complaint, which he labeled as motions to
amend his complaint. (Docket #11, #12). The Court usually
does not allow this type of piecemeal pleading, with
allegations spread across multiple different documents.
See Duda v. Bd. of Educ. of Franklin Park Pub. Sch. Dist.
No. 84, 133 F.3d 1054, 1056-57 (7th Cir. 1998) (an
amended complaint supersedes the prior complaint and must be
complete in itself without reference to the original
complaint). However, because the Court's consideration of
Plaintiff's two addenda along with his complaint will not
change the outcome of this screening, the Court will grant
Plaintiff's motions to amend and will consider all three
filings, (Docket #1, #11, and #12), as the operative
Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or
employee of a governmental entity. Id. §
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.
Id. § 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);
Gladney v. Pendelton Corr. Facility, 302 F.3d 773,
774 (7th Cir. 2002). The Court may, therefore, dismiss a
claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably
meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are
clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327;
Gladney, 302 F.3d at 774. “Malicious, ”
although sometimes treated as a synonym for “frivolous,
” “is more usefully construed as intended to
harass.” Lindell v. McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107,
1109 (7th Cir. 2003); Paul v. Marberry, 658 F.3d
702, 705 (7th Cir. 2011).
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). It is not
necessary for the plaintiff to plead specific facts; his
statement need only “‘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 v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41, 47 (1957)); Christopher v. Buss, 384 F.3d
879, 881 (7th Cir. 2004). However, a complaint that offers
“‘labels and conclusions'” or
“‘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. The complaint
allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555; Christopher, 384 F.3d at 881.
considering whether a complaint states a claim, courts should
first “identif[y] pleadings that, because they are no
more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Legal
conclusions must be supported by factual allegations.
Id. If there are well-pleaded factual allegations,
the Court must “assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
to relief.” Id.
state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that: (1) he was deprived of a right
secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and
(2) the deprivation was visited upon him by a person or
persons acting under color of state law. Buchanan-Moore
v. Cty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009);
Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). The Court
is obliged to give Plaintiff's pro se
allegations, “‘however inartfully pleaded,
'” a liberal construction. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).
allegations are not especially clear, and, as noted above,
they are scattered in three different documents. (Docket #1,
#11-1, and #12). Despite these issues, the Court can glean
the relevant facts. During the time relevant to
Plaintiff's complaint, he was confined in the Milwaukee
Secure Detention Facility. Sometime on November 12, 2018,
Plaintiff attempted to take his own life. (Docket #11-1 at
1). Because of this, he was moved to a segregated area and
placed in four-point restraints. (Docket #1 at 3). He was
kept in restraints for eight hours.
Id. Plaintiff complains that during this time,
he was not given “range of motion” every two
hours, was not given water every hour, was not provided an
hourly bathroom break, and was not allowed to shower for 24
hours. Id. at 2.
point during the day or evening on November 12, Plaintiff
asked Officer Gregory Koestering (“Koestering”),
who is not named as a defendant, to use the bathroom. (Docket
#12). Koestering either did not let Plaintiff use a bathroom
or did not get to Plaintiff in time; Plaintiff was left to
urinate on himself. Id. Captain Gegare and Captain
Kaczmarek, who were on duty at the time, went to
Plaintiff's cell and changed his clothes. Id.
am on November 13, Plaintiff asked to be released from the
restraints because he had been compliant with officers'
instructions and was no longer a threat to the safety of
himself or anyone else. (Docket #11-1 at 1). Captain Morris
consulted with someone in the psychiatric services unit who
instructed that Plaintiff should remain in restraints until
the morning when he could be evaluated. Id.
Plaintiff was kept in restraints until 7:05 a.m. when,
presumably, he was evaluated and cleared for release from
allegations suggest a claim under the Eighth Amendment, but
they fall short of stating such a claim. The Eighth Amendment
is generally understood to prohibit punishments which
“involve the unnecessary and wanton infliction of
pain” or are “grossly disproportionate to the
severity of the crime.” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452
U.S. 337, 346 (1981) (quotations and internal marks omitted).
Punishment involves the “unnecessary and wanton”
infliction of pain when it is “totally without
penological justification.” Id. (quotations
omitted). Conditions of confinement will be found to violate
the Eighth Amendment when they fall below the “the
minimal civilized measure of life's necessities.”
Id. at 347.
addition, to state an Eighth Amendment claim, Plaintiff must
allege that the defendants possessed the requisite mental
state, i.e., that they denied Plaintiff civilized
conditions of confinement intentionally or recklessly:
“[A] prison official may be held liable under the
Eighth Amendment for denying humane conditions of confinement
only if he knows that inmates face a substantial risk of
serious harm and disregards that risk by failing to take
reasonable measures to abate it.” Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847 (1994). This standard is
exceedingly high: “Even if a defendant recognizes the
substantial risk, he is free from liability if he
‘responded reasonably to the risk, even if the harm
ultimately was not averted.'” Gayton v.
McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 620 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 843).
keeping an inmate in restraints for an extended period and
leaving him to soil himself while restrained sounds harsh in
the abstract, prison-conditions claims are not to be
evaluated in a vacuum. See Scarver v. Litscher, 434
F.3d 972, 976-77 (7th Cir. 2006). For example, conditions of
confinement must be evaluated in relation to the inmate's
own behavior. See Gillis v. Litscher, 468 F.3d 488,
493-94 (7th Cir. 2006). According to his own allegations, the
restraints used on Plaintiff were non-punitive and designed,
instead, to prevent him from harming himself or others. There
was a clear penological purpose for keeping Plaintiff
confined in this way until morning, when a medical
professional could evaluate him: keeping him safe from
himself. The mere fact that Plaintiff did not enjoy being
restrained does not make it punishment.
Plaintiff to urinate on himself, on the other hand, is not a
safety measure; it is a degrading and humiliating result of
being restrained for a prolonged time. Absent a justification
for such a condition, this could fall within the meaning of
cruel and unusual punishment proscribed by the Eighth
Amendment. However, to state an Eighth Amendment claim on
this condition, Plaintiff must also plausibly allege that
Defendants' leaving him to urinate on himself was done
with deliberate indifference to his well-being and safety.
Plaintiff has not alleged this. Instead, he alleges that the
reason he was restrained was for his own safety, and that
soon after he soiled himself, two guards changed his clothes.
This does not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment claim.
See Bowers v. Pollard, 602 F.Supp.2d 977, 987-94
(E.D. Wis. 2009), aff'd,345 Fed.Appx. 191 (7th
Cir. 2009) (granting summary judgment on Eighth Amendment
claim where inmate was subjected to the use of five-point
restraints on as many as fifteen occasions for ...