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Harris v. Jester

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

January 13, 2020

MARCUS HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
CO JESTER, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYING FILING FEE (DKT. NO. 2), SCREENING COMPLAINT UNDER 28 U.S.C. §1915A AND DISMISSING CASE

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Marcus Harris, who is confined at the Racine Correctional Institution, and who is representing himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that the defendants violated his civil rights. Dkt. No. 1. This decision resolves the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee, dkt. no. 2, and screens the complaint, dkt. no. 1.

         I. Motion for Leave to Proceed without Prepaying the Filing Fee (Dkt. No. 2)

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) applies to this case because the plaintiff 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 then must pay the balance of the $350 filing fee over time, through deductions from his prisoner account. Id.

         On November 5, 2019, the court ordered the plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of $20.38. Dkt. No. 6. The court received that fee on November 20, 2019. The court will grant the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee and will allow him to pay the remainder of the filing fee over time in the manner explained at the end of this order.

         II. Screening the Complaint

         A. Federal Screening Standard

         Under the PLRA, the court must screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief from a governmental entity or an 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 it applies when considering whether to dismiss a case 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 liberally construes complaints filed by plaintiffs who are representing themselves and holds such complaints 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)).

         B. The Plaintiff's Allegations[1]

         The plaintiff has sued Correctional Officer Jester and the Milwaukee County Jail administration. Dkt. No. 1 at 1. His allegations relate to events that occurred while he was an inmate at the Milwaukee County Jail.

         The plaintiff alleges that sometime between September 22 and 24, 2018, Jester came to his cell to address the plaintiff's malfunctioning sink; the plaintiff says that Jester had been notified about the sink earlier. Id. at 2. After asking the plaintiff to step out of his cell, Jester went to the sink and “pressed the b[u]tton” on the sink, which caused water to “come out all over her (from the sink).” Id. The plaintiff says that Jester then stepped aside and pushed the button again, which caused water to go “all over” the floor. Id. He alleges that Jester did not give the plaintiff any cleaning supplies or help him clean up the water (as had happened in the past). Id. When the plaintiff asked to speak to someone higher up to “see if [he] could be moved, ” Jester refused and said she would put in a work order about the sink. Id. at 3.

         Jester returned two hours later to tell the inmates it was time to eat. Id. The plaintiff again requested to move to another cell because of the sink, and Jester again refused his request. Id. When the plaintiff returned to his cell after eating, he slipped on the water and fell onto his back, injuring himself. Id. The plaintiff saw a doctor at the Health Services Unit, and was told that there was “something wrong (injury).” Id. He filed a grievance about the incident, but says he was “moved due to that write up of the C.O.” Id. He asserts that Jester “should have done more to prevent the slip/fall, and the subsequent injuries that [he] sustained, but she took matters into her own hands, ...


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