Cooper v. Hull et al
SCREENING ORDER signed by Magistrate Judge William E Duffin on 11/30/17. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee (in forma pauperis) (ECF No. 2 ) is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER O RDERED that on or before December 22, 2017, the plaintiff shall file an amended pleading curing the defects in the original complaint as described herein. (cc: all counsel, plaintiff with Complaint form, Dennis Brand-Milw County Sheriff's Office) (mlm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
MICHAEL R. COOPER,
Case No. 17-CV-1461
JOHN AND JANE DOES,
Plaintiff Michael R. Cooper, who is confined at the Milwaukee County Jail, is
representing himself. He filed a complaint alleging that jail staff members failed to
follow administrative procedures and provide due process of law. This matter comes
before the court on Cooper’s petition to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee (in
forma pauperis) and to screen the complaint.
Cooper has paid an initial partial filing fee of $20.00. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).
The court will grant his petition to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee and
direct collection of the remainder of the filing fee as explained at the end of this order.
Standard of Review for Screening Complaint
The court shall 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).
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 mere “labels and conclusions” or a “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’s allegations “must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555
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 wellpleaded 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 the 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)).
Cooper alleges that on April 25, 2017, he was placed on disciplinary status
pending investigation of an altercation with another inmate. Lieutenant Murano (not a
defendant) allegedly informed Cooper that if he did not receive a violation report or
hearing within 72 hours, he would be released from “discipline.”
Cooper alleges that on April 29, 2017, he filed a grievance on defendant
Lieutenant Hull for holding a violation hearing without cause and for failing to provide
paperwork regarding the hearing or violation. Cooper states that on May 2, 2017, he
sent a request to Lieutenant Hull regarding the failure to follow the rules of hearing and
appeals but did not receive a response from Hull. Cooper alleges that on May 5, 2017,
he sent another request to Hull for his failure to provide the required paperwork for a
disciplinary hearing and appeal, but again did not receive a response from Hull.
Next, Cooper alleges that on April 26, 2017, he sent a request to a lieutenant
asking that two phone numbers be placed on the phone call list. He states that on May
2, 2017, he filed a grievance regarding the jail’s policy not allowing inmates to have
stamps or make phone calls and “violating my constitutional rights by refusing me to
correspond with family and my attorney.” Cooper alleges that on May 21, 2017, he
appealed the grievance.
Next, Cooper alleges that on May 6, 2017, he filed a grievance about staff using
food as discipline while he was being disciplined for an infraction he never committed.
Cooper alleges that he did not receive a response to his grievance.
Next, Cooper alleges that on September 6, 2017, he sent a letter of
complaint/appeal to the jail commander with regard to the grievances that were not
responded to after appeal, “as it clearly states in the rule book.” He states that he did
not receive a response.
Cooper claims that he has continued to complain that the lieutenant, and staff are
violating his administrative rights without providing him with due process of law. He
states that staff prevented him from exhausting his administrative remedies by not
providing any documents regarding the disciplinary violation or appeal. Cooper also
claims that staff refused him the right to communicate via mail or phone with counsel
or family, as provided by the Milwaukee County Jail administrative agency and the
United States Constitution, but all grievances and requests were ignored.
For relief, as to Lieutenant Hull Cooper seeks a five-day suspension and punitive
damages for the “reckless disregard for administrative procedure,” failure to provide
due process of law, and failure to protect Cooper’s rights and punish him for
misconduct. Cooper also seeks punitive damages against defendant Rumpel (who is not
mentioned in the complaint) for failing to provide due process of law, violating
administrative procedure, and failure to protect Cooper’s constitutional rights. Cooper
seeks punitive damages against Lt. John/Jane Doe for failing to provide due process of
law and for violating administrative procedure. He also requests that each defendant be
required to undergo a psychological evaluation, be retrained in administrative
procedures, and that the defendants not be allowed to use food (nutra-loaf) as a means
of punishment for detainees already being punished in segregation.
Cooper complains mostly of jail staff members’ failure to follow the jail’s
administrative rules by not responding to his grievances, appeals, and correspondence.
However, failure to follow jail rules does not by itself state a claim under federal law.
Prison procedures themselves are not substantive liberty or property interests that are
protected by due process, see Shango v. Jurich, 681 F.2d 1091, 1100-01 (7th Cir. 1982), and
a violation of state laws or regulations is not a basis for a federal civil rights suit, see
Guajardo-Palma v. Martinson, 622 F.3d 801, 806 (7th Cir. 2010). That Cooper did not
receive responses to his grievances, in and of itself, does not violate due process.
Although not entirely clear, Cooper may also be complaining about his
disciplinary hearing, about not being allowed to contact his family and his attorney, and
about the food he was served while on disciplinary status. If Cooper seeks to pursue
these allegations he should provide more information, such as details about his
disciplinary hearing, the outcome of the hearing, the length of any alleged deprivations,
when they took place, who was involved, and why they took place. This information
will help the court evaluate these allegations to see if Cooper states a claim.
If Cooper seeks to challenge a jail policy regarding these issues, he should name
Milwaukee County as a defendant. And if Cooper names an individual as a defendant
in the complaint caption (the top of the first page of the complaint), he should include
allegations against that defendant in the complaint.
If Cooper wants to proceed, he must file an amended complaint curing the
deficiencies in the original complaint as described herein. Such amended complaint
must be filed on or before December 22, 2017, and must be filed on the enclosed form
complaint. Failure to file an amended complaint within this time period may result in
dismissal of this action.
The amended complaint must bear the docket number assigned to this case and
must be labeled “Amended Complaint.” The amended complaint replaces 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). If Cooper files an amended complaint, the court will screen it pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed
without prepayment of the filing fee (in forma pauperis) (ECF No. 2) is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that on or before December 22, 2017, the plaintiff
shall file an amended pleading curing the defects in the original complaint as described
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk’s Office mail the plaintiff a prisoner
complaint form along with this order.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the agency having custody of the plaintiff shall
collect from his institution trust account the $330.00 balance of the filing fee by
collecting monthly payments from the plaintiff’s prison trust account in an amount
equal to 20% of the preceding month’s income credited to the plaintiff’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 the plaintiff is
transferred to another institution (county, state, or federal), the transferring institution
shall forward a copy of this order along with the plaintiff's remaining balance to the
IT IS ALSO ORDERED that a copy of this order be sent to the officer in charge
of the agency where the plaintiff is confined. A copy should also be sent to Dennis
Brand at the Milwaukee County Safety Building.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff shall submit all correspondence
and legal material to:
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.
The 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
Dated at Milwaukee, Wisconsin this 30th day of November, 2017.
WILLIAM E. DUFFIN
U.S. Magistrate Judge
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