Walker-Hall v. Syed et al
ORDER signed by Judge J.P. Stadtmueller on 11/16/2017 DENYING 16 Plaintiff's Motion to Pay Full Filing Fee with Funds in Release Account. (cc: all counsel, via mail to Donovan Walker-Hall at Waupun Correctional Institution) (jm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
DR. SALEM SYED, EMILY
STADTMUELLER, ANN YORK, RN
GELA, JOHN DOE, JANE DOE, and DR.
Case No. 17-CV-1032-JPS
Plaintiff Donovan Walker-Hall, a prisoner representing himself,
filed a complaint in the above-captioned action along with a request to
proceed in forma pauperis. (Docket #1 and #5). The Court assessed an initial
partial filing fee (“IPFF”) of $15.51, and Plaintiff asked the Court to allow
him to pay the IPFF from funds in his release account. (Docket #9). The
Court granted that motion, noting that courts typically are reluctant to
allow prisoners to tap into their release accounts for litigation expenses, but
that it would allow Plaintiff to use his release account funds for the limited
purpose of paying the IPFF. (Docket #10). Plaintiff has now asked the Court
to allow him to pay the balance of the full filing fee from his release account.
(Docket #16). That motion must be denied.
Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), a prisoner
plaintiff who is granted leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing
fee, as Plaintiff was in this case, see (Docket #12), is required to pay the
statutory filing fee of $350.00 for any civil action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).
After the IPFF is paid, the prisoner must make monthly payments of twenty
percent of the preceding month’s income until the $350.00 filing fee is paid
in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). “The agency having custody of the prisoner
shall forward payments from the prisoner’s account to the Clerk of the
Court each time the amount in the account exceeds $10 until the filing fees
are paid.” Id.
Plaintiff cannot use his release account funds to pay the balance
remaining on the filing fee. “A release account is a restricted account
maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections to be used upon
the prisoner’s release from custody upon completion of his sentence.”
Wilson v. Anderson, Case No. 14-C-798, 2014 WL 3671878 at *3 (E.D. Wis.
July 23, 2014) (citing Wis. Adm. Code § DOC 309.466). Given the purpose
of the release account, federal courts do not deem it prudent to focus on that
account as the source of funds to satisfy the filing fee payment
requirements. Smith v. Huibregtse, 151 F. Supp. 2d 1040, 1042 (E.D. Wis.
2001). As the Seventh Circuit has instructed, “like any other civil litigant, [a
prisoner] must decide which of [his] legal actions is important enough to
fund,” Lindell v. McCallum, 352 F.3d 1107, 1111 (7th Cir. 2003); thus, if a
prisoner concludes that “the limitations on his funds prevent him from
prosecuting [a] case with the full vigor he wishes to prosecute it, he is free
to choose to dismiss it voluntarily and bring it at a later date.” Williams v.
Berge, No. 02-CV-10, 2002 WL 32350026, at *8 (W.D. Wis. Apr. 30, 2002). He
is not free, however, to tap into his release account to cover those legal costs.
In light of the foregoing, the Court will deny Plaintiff’s motion to use release
account funds to pay the balance of the filing fee.
As is required under the PLRA, the institution where Plaintiff is
incarcerated will forward payments from his trust account to the Clerk of
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the Court each time the amount in the account exceeds $10 until the filing
fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion to pay the full filling fee with
funds in his release account (Docket #16) be and the same is hereby
Dated at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this 16th day of November, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
U.S. District Judge
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