Williams, Warren v. Dane County Sheriff's Office
ORDER Dismissing 1 Complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 8. Amended Complaint due 1/21/2014. Signed by District Judge William M. Conley on 12/18/2013. (jef),(ps)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
OPINION AND ORDER
DANE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE,
This is a proposed civil action in which plaintiff Warren Williams, a pretrial
detainee incarcerated at the Dane County Jail at the time of his filing, alleges defendant
“Dane County Sheriff’s Office” violated his constitutional rights under the Thirteenth
Amendment by requiring him to “work beyond [his] will.” (Compl. (dkt. #1) p.3.)
Williams asks for leave to proceed under the in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
From the financial affidavit Williams has provided, the court concluded that he is unable
to prepay the full fee for filing this lawsuit. Williams has also made the initial partial
payment of $9.00 required of him under § 1915(b)(1). The next step is determining
whether Williams’ proposed action is (1) frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim
on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks money damages from a defendant who is
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Because Williams’ complaint fails to
satisfy the pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, the court will
dismiss Williams’ complaint without prejudice. Williams may, however, file an amended
complaint within 30 days, which provides additional allegations as to the work he
allegedly was required to perform and who actually required it.
ALLEGATIONS OF FACT
In addressing any pro se litigant’s complaint, the court must read the allegations of
the complaint generously. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 521 (1972). In his complaint,
Williams alleges, and the court assumes for purposes of this screening order, the
At the time Williams filed his complaint, he was incarcerated at the Dane County
Williams had not been convicted of any crime at that time and was awaiting trial.
Williams alleges that Dane County Jail required him to “work beyond [his] will.”
(Compl. (dkt. #1) p.3.)
The Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides in
pertinent part: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for
crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United
States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” In Bijeol v. Nelson, 579 F.2d 423 (7th
Cir. 1978), the Seventh Circuit considered a claim brought by a pretrial detainee, alleging
that his constitutional rights under the First, Fifth, Eighth and Thirteenth Amendments
were violated when he was required to perform general housekeeping duties without pay.
The court rejected the plaintiff’s claim, holding that housekeeping chores were not
punitive in nature and, therefore, were “fair and reasonable.” Id. at 424-25. Still, other
courts have held that a pretrial detainee’s rights are violated if the work goes beyond
general daily housekeeping duties. See Martinez v. Turner, 977 F.2d 421 (8th Cir. 1992)
(“Requiring a pretrial detainee to work or be placed in administrative segregation is
punishment.”); Chestnut v. Magnusson, 942 F.2d 820, 823 (1st Cir. 1991) (“[P]retrial
detainees are presumed innocent and may not be compelled to work.”) (citing McGinnis
v. Royster, 410 U.S. 263, (1973)).
Here, the complaint will be dismissed without prejudice because Williams failed to
include sufficient facts to show that he is entitled to relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8. Rule
8(a)(2) requires that a complaint must include “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” This means that “the complaint must
describe the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . .
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496
F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007). In his complaint, Williams merely alleges that he was
required to “work” beyond his will. Without additional detail as to the type of work
assignments and amount of time required to be spent on such work, the court cannot
determine whether his complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted.
Williams is free to file an amended complaint that fixes this problem.
amended complaint should contain specific allegations as to the type of work he was
required to perform, by whom, and for how long. Williams will also be required to name
as the defendant(s) those individual employee(s) of the Dane County Sheriff’s Office
directly responsible for requiring Williams to perform this allegedly unconstitutional
IT IS ORDERED that:
1) Plaintiff Warren Williams’ request to leave to proceed is DENIED and his
complaint is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for violation of Fed. R.
Civ. P. 8; and
2) Plaintiff may have until January 21, 2014, to submit a proposed amended
complaint consistent with this Opinion and Order. If plaintiff fails to respond
by that date, then the clerk of court is directed to close this case for petitioner's
failure to prosecute. If plaintiff submits a revised complaint by that date, the
court will take that complaint under advisement for screening pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A.
Entered this 18th day of December, 2013.
BY THE COURT:
WILLIAM M. CONLEY
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