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Wieland v. Rucker

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 19, 2018

RONALD B. WIELAND, Plaintiff,
v.
FNU RUCKER, et al., Defendants.

          NOTICE AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          Sam A. Crow U.S. Senior District Judge

         This pro se civil rights action was filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by a prisoner currently confined at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility in Ellsworth, Kansas. Plaintiff proceeds in forma pauperis and alleges that constitutional violations occurred during his pre-trial confinement at the Shawnee County Department of Corrections (“SCDC”) in Topeka, Kansas. He brings suit against SCDC and various employees. As relief, he requests $180, 000.00 and mental health or medical treatment for conditions that “may arise” because of the alleged conditions.

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff initially filed this action in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. (Doc. 1). After conducting an initial review, that court determined that Kansas was the appropriate venue for this action and, under 28 U.S.C. §1406(a), transferred the case to this district for all further proceedings. (Docs. 3 and 4).

         On December 22, 2017, this court directed plaintiff to submit a certified financial statement to support his application to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 5). The court also directed plaintiff to submit an amended complaint on the proper forms which presents a clear statement of plaintiff's claims and the relief he seeks. Id. On March 2, 2018, plaintiff provided the required certified financial statement and filed an amended complaint. (Docs. 9 and 10). Based upon the financial statement, the court granted plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of fees and assessed no initial partial filing fee because plaintiff has insufficient funds with which to do so. (Doc. 11). Plaintiff remains obligated to make monthly payments under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2) until he pays the full amount of the $350.00 filing fee.

         II. Allegations in the Amended Complaint

         Notwithstanding the court's order that plaintiff set out his claims using the form complaint without referring to an attached narrative statement, the amended complaint submitted by plaintiff does exactly that. The court has carefully reviewed plaintiff's statement and concludes that plaintiff brings following claims.

         Plaintiff alleges that during his 20-month confinement, cells and living areas of the SCDC segregation unit were contaminated with mold, feces, blood stains, and pepper spray residue, and that inmates in segregation were not allowed to have cleaning materials. He conclusorily alleges that inmates may spend months in the same cell without access to cleaning materials. Plaintiff further alleges that on September 12, 2017, the inmate in a neighboring cell urinated on the floor, under the door, and onto the walkway; smeared feces on the door and walls; and purposely caused his toilet to overflow, which flooded plaintiff's cell with contaminated toilet water. Plaintiff was moved the next day to another cell, which he alleges had feces smeared on the wall, door, and window.

         Plaintiff further alleges that the SCDC regularly remained in “lockdown” status for 48-96 consecutive hours, which he contends violated his constitutional rights as a pre-trial detainee because during lockdown periods he had no access to common areas, the outdoor courtyard, exercise areas, showers, or cleaning materials.

         Finally, plaintiff alleges that SCDC officials improperly punished him and other segregation inmates who committed rules violations by housing them for multiple days in the suicide prevention and close observation cells, which lacked chairs, tables, beds, toilets, and sinks, and provided no access to exercise areas, the dayroom, or common areas.

         Plaintiff contends that these violations have caused him to develop severe separation anxiety disorder, manic depression, paranoid thoughts, anxiety, and depression.

         III. Screening Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff 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)(1)- (2).

         “To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins,487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988) (citations omitted); Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1523 (10th Cir. 1992). A court liberally construes a pro se complaint and applies “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In addition, the court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true. Anderson v. Blake, 469 F.3d 910, 913 (10th Cir. 2006). On the other hand, “when ...


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