Hewlett v. Hill et al

Filing 7

SCREENING ORDER signed by Judge William C. Griesbach on 1/13/22. The 2 MOTION for Leave to Proceed Without Prepayment of the Filing Fee is GRANTED. Defendants Hill and Lange shall file a responsive pleading to the complaint within 60 days of receiving notice of this order. (cc: all counsel and mailed to pro se party and officer in charge)(Griesbach, William)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN DAMIEN SHONTELL HEWLETT, Plaintiff, v. Case No. 22-C-1376 JASON HILL and CO LANGE, Defendants. SCREENING ORDER Plaintiff Damien Shontell Hewlett, who is currently serving a state prison sentence at the Waupun Correctional Institution and representing himself, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that his civil rights were violated. This matter comes before the Court on Hewlett’s motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the full filing fee and to screen the complaint. MOTION TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYING THE FILING FEE Hewlett has requested leave to proceed without prepaying 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). Hewlett has filed a certified copy of his prison trust account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of his complaint, as required under 28 U.S.C. §1915(a)(2), and has been assessed and paid an initial partial filing fee of $24.14. Hewlett’s motion for leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee will be granted. SCREENING OF THE COMPLAINT The Court has a duty to review any complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, and dismiss any complaint or Case 1:22-cv-01376-WCG Filed 01/17/23 Page 1 of 5 Document 7 portion thereof if the prisoner has raised any 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 screening a complaint, the Court 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. To state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, a 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 must be at least sufficient to provide notice to each defendant of what he or she is accused of doing, as well as when and where the alleged actions or inactions occurred, and the nature and extent of any damage or injury the actions or inactions caused. “The pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,’ but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). “The tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. A complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” 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. at 556. “[T]he complaint’s allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. at 555 (internal quotations omitted). ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT According to Hewlett, on September 19, 2022, he told Defendant CO Lange that he felt suicidal. Hewlett asserts that Lange walked by, and in response to another inmate’s comment about Hewlett’s statement, responded, “He’ll be ok.” Hewlett explains that, during this time, he was beating 2 Case 1:22-cv-01376-WCG Filed 01/17/23 Page 2 of 5 Document 7 his head against his door until his forehead began to bleed. Hewlett states that he pressed his emergency call button to report that he was feeling suicidal and that Lange had ignored him. Eventually, Lange and Defendant CO Hill returned to his cell, and Hewlett asserts that they began to antagonize and bully him into killing himself. Hewlett asserts that he asked to be put on observation, but Hill called him a derogatory name and told him nobody would care if he killed himself. Hewlett asserts that he “lost it” and began slamming his head on the door again. Hewlett states that, after Lange and Hill left, he banged his head on his door, sliced up his left arm, and tied a noose around his neck as tightly as he could. He asserts that officers on the next shift found him in this condition. Dkt. No. 1 at 1-3. THE COURT’S ANALYSIS Prison officials violate the Eighth Amendment if they are aware of an objectively serious risk of harm to an inmate and knowingly or recklessly disregard it. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 846 (1994). The duty imposed on prison officials extends to protecting inmates from imminent threats of serious self-harm, and the “obligation to intervene covers self-destructive behaviors up to and including suicide.” Miranda v. Cty. of Lake, 900 F.3d 335, 349 (7th Cir. 2018). Hewlett may proceed on a claim that Defendants demonstrated deliberate indifference to the serious risk of harm he posed to himself when they ignored his requests to be placed on observation and failed to intervene to stop his self-destructive behaviors. Hewlett does not, however, state a retaliation claim against Hill, who allegedly had negative interactions with Hewlett prior to this incident. See Dkt. No. 1 at 3-4. To plead a retaliation claim, a plaintiff must allege 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) the First Amendment activity was at least a motivating factor in the defendants’ decision to take the retaliatory action.” Perez v. Fenoglio, 792 F.3d 768, 783 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 3 Case 1:22-cv-01376-WCG Filed 01/17/23 Page 3 of 5 Document 7 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009)). Hewlett does not allege that he engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment, so he fails to state a retaliation claim. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Hewlett’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 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 Hewlett’s complaint and this order are being electronically sent today to the Wisconsin Department of Justice for service on Jason Hill and CO Lange. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to the informal service agreement between the Wisconsin Department of Justice and this Court, Jason Hill and CO Lange shall file a responsive pleading to the complaint within sixty days of receiving electronic notice of this order. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the agency having custody of Hewlett shall collect from his institution trust account the $325.86 balance of the filing fee by collecting monthly payments from Hewlett’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 Hewlett is transferred to another institution, the transferring institution shall forward a copy of this Order along with Hewlett’s remaining balance to the receiving institution. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this order be sent to the officer in charge of the agency where Hewlett is confined. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the parties may not begin discovery until after the Court enters a scheduling order setting deadlines for discovery and dispositive motions. 4 Case 1:22-cv-01376-WCG Filed 01/17/23 Page 4 of 5 Document 7 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiffs who are inmates at Prisoner E-Filing Program institutions must submit all correspondence and case filings to institution staff, who will scan and email documents to the Court. The Prisoner E-Filing Program is mandatory for all inmates of Green Bay Correctional Institution, Waupun Correctional Institution, Dodge Correctional Institution, Wisconsin Secure Program Facility, Columbia Correctional Institution, and Oshkosh Correctional Institution. Plaintiffs who are inmates at all other prison facilities must submit the original document for each filing to the Court to the following address: Honorable William C. Griesbach c/o Office of the Clerk United States District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin 125 S. Jefferson Street, Suite 102 Green Bay, WI 54301 PLEASE DO NOT MAIL ANYTHING DIRECTLY TO THE COURT’S CHAMBERS. It will only delay the processing of the matter. Hewlett is 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 Green Bay, Wisconsin this 13th day of January, 2023. s/ William C. Griesbach William C. Griesbach United States District Judge 5 Case 1:22-cv-01376-WCG Filed 01/17/23 Page 5 of 5 Document 7

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