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White v. Wisconsin Department of Corrections

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

December 16, 2019

MIA WHITE, Plaintiff,


          William C. Griesbach, District Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff, who is currently serving a state prison sentence at Robert E. Ellsworth Correctional Center and representing herself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that her 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 her prison trust account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of her complaint, as required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2), and has been assessed and paid an initial partial filing fee of $49.25. Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee will be granted.

         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 [she] 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).

         The Court's Analysis

         Plaintiff alleges that the Wisconsin Department of Corrections failed to properly maintain the prison, which caused Plaintiff to seriously harm herself. The only named defendant, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, is not a proper defendant because it is not a suable entity under § 1983. See Castillo v. Cook County Mail Room Dept., 990 F.2d 304, 307 (7th Cir. 1993); Dobbey v. Ill. Dept. of Corrs., 574 F.3d 443, 444 (7th Cir. 2009). If Plaintiff wishes to proceed with this lawsuit, she must 1) file an amended complaint that identifies the individual or individuals responsible for the complained of conduct, 2) list the individual(s) in the caption of the amended complaint, and 3) explain what each individual did to allegedly violate Plaintiff's rights. In other words, Plaintiff must clearly set forth the who, what, when, and where of what she alleges occurred. An amended complaint must be filed on or before January 13, 2020. Failure to file an amended complaint within this time period may result in dismissal of this action.

         Plaintiff is advised that the amended complaint must bear the docket number assigned to this case and must be labeled “Amended Complaint.” The amended complaint supersedes the prior complaint and must be complete in itself without reference to the original complaint. See Duda v. Bd. of Educ. of Franklin Park Pub. Sch. Dist. No. 84, 133 F.3d 1054, 1056-57 (7th Cir. 1998). In Duda, the appellate court emphasized that in such instances, the “prior pleading is in effect withdrawn as to all matters not restated in the amended pleading.” Id. at 1057 (citation omitted). If an amended complaint is received, it will be screened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         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 on or before January 13, 2020, Plaintiff shall file an amended pleading curing the defects in the original complaint as described herein.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the agency having custody of the prisoner shall collect from her institution trust account the $300.75 balance of the filing fee by collecting monthly payments from Plaintiff's prison trust account in an amount equal to 20% of the preceding month's income credited to the prisoner's trust account and forwarding payments to the Clerk of Court each time the amount in the account exceeds $10 in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The payments shall be clearly identified by the case name and number assigned to this action. If Plaintiff is transferred to another institution, the transferring institution shall forward a copy of this Order along with Plaintiff's remaining balance to the receiving institution.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that copies of this order be sent to the officer in charge of the ...

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