Case No. 13-CV-1355
Plaintiff, a Wisconsin state prisoner, filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that his civil rights were violated. This matter comes before the court on plaintiff's petition to proceed in forma pauperis. He has been assessed and paid an initial partial filing fee of $1.57.
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). 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. "Malicious," although sometimes treated as a synonym for "frivolous," "is more usefully construed as intended to harass." Lindell v. McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107, 1109-10 (7th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).
To 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 and his statement need only "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). 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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The complaint allegations "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).
In considering whether a complaint states a claim, courts should follow the principles set forth in Twombly by first, "identifying 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, second, "assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id.
To 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. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Kramer v. Village of North Fond du Lac, 384 F.3d 856, 861 (7th Cir. 2004)); see also 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)).
Plaintiff is incarcerated at Racine Correctional Institution (RCI). He alleges that his constituitonal rights were violated during two periods of segregation temporary lock-up (TLU) at RCI. The first placement in TLU was from December 3 through December 18, 2012. Plaintiff was not given a shower until December 8 and, as a result, his eczema condition worsened causing his skin to dry out, crack, and bleed, especially on his legs, making his movements painful and labored. Additionally, plaintiff did not receive adequate ventilation and heating which triggered chronic asthma attacks. He did not receive his religous text or holy book while other inmates in TLU received theirs.
Plaintiff's second placement in TLU was from February 15 until March 1, 2013. He also did not receive his religious text or holy book during that time but other TLU inmates received theirs.
Plaintiff claims that defendants actions violated his rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, et seq.), the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United State Constitution, and his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. Lastly, plaintiff claims that the conditions of confinement during his first TLU stay violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment. He monetary damages and injunctive relief.
The court finds that plaintiff may proceed on the claim as set forth above.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Docket 2) is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that pursuant to an informal service agreement between the Wisconsin Department of Justice and this court, copies of plaintiff's complaint and this order are being electronically sent today to the Wisconsin Department of Justice for service on the state defendants.
IT IS ALSO ORDERED that, pursuant to the informal service agreement between the Wisconsin Department of Justice and this court, the defendants shall file a responsive pleading to the complaint within sixty days of receiving electronic notice of this order.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections or his designee shall collect from plaintiff's prison trust account the $348.43 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 the 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.
IT IS ALSO ORDERED that a copy of this order be sent to the warden of the institution where the inmate is confined.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff shall submit all correspondence and legal material to:
Honorable Lynn Adelman
% Office of the Clerk
United States District Court
Eastern District of Wisconsin
362 United States Courthouse
517 E. Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
PLEASE DO NOT MAIL ANYTHING DIRECTLY TO THE COURT'S CHAMBERS. It will only delay the processing of the matter.
Plaintiff is notified that from now on, he is required under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5(a) to send a copy of every paper or document filed with the court to the opposing party or, if the opposing party is represented by counsel, to counsel for that party. Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(b). Plaintiff should also retain a personal copy of each document. If plaintiff does not have access to a photocopy machine, he may send out identical handwritten or typed copies of any documents. The court may disregard any papers or documents which do not indicate that a copy has been sent to the opposing party or that party's attorney, if the party is represented by an attorney.
Plaintiff is further advised that failure to make a timely submission may result in the dismissal of this action for failure to prosecute.
In addition, the parties must notify the Clerk of Court of any change of address. Failure to do so could result in orders or other information not being timely delivered, thus affecting the legal rights of the parties.
Dated at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this 16th day of April, 2014.