Martin v. Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER re: 2 MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis under 42:1983 (prisoner) filed by Plaintiff Matthew Dallas Martin, Sr. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Docket No. 2 ) is GRANTED. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4), the initial partial filing fee is waived. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the institution having custody of plaintiff shall, whenever the amount in plaintiff's prison account exceeds $10.00, send monthly payments that equal 20 percent of the funds credited to the account the preceding month to the United StatesDistrict Court for the Eastern District of Missouri Clerk's office, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), until the fili ng fee of$350 is paid in full. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff shall submit an amended complaint, in accordance with the instructions set forth in this Memorandum and Order, no later than twenty-one (21) days from the date of this Memorandu m and Order. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall mail to plaintiff two (2) blank forms for the filing of a prisoner civil rights complaint. Plaintiff may request additional forms from the Clerk, as needed. If plaintiff fails to timely comply with this Order, the Court may dismiss this action, without prejudice and without further notice. (Response to Court due by 10/4/2017.) Signed by District Judge Ronnie L. White on 9/13/17. (CSG)
UNITED ST ATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MATTHEW DALLAS MARTIN, JR.,
CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY
SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, et al. ,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon the motion of pro se plaintiff Matthew Dallas
Martin, Jr. ' s motion for leave to proceed informa pauperis. (Docket No. 2). Having reviewed
the financial information plaintiff submitted in support, the Court determines that he is unable to
pay the full amount of the filing fee. The motion will therefore be granted. In addition, for the
reasons explained below, plaintiff will be allowed to submit an amended complaint.
28 u.s.c. § 1915(b)(l)
Pursuant to 28 U .S.C. § 1915(b)(l), a prisoner bringing a civil action informa pauperis
is required to pay the full amount of the filing fee. If the prisoner has insufficient funds in his or
her prison account to pay the entire fee, the Court must assess and, when funds exist, collect an
initial partial filing fee of 20 percent of the greater of (1) the average monthly deposits in the
prisoner' s account, or (2) the average monthly balance in the prisoner's account for the prior sixmonth period. After payment of the initial partial filing fee, the prisoner is required to make
monthly payments of 20 percent of the preceding month's income credited to the prisoner' s
account. 28 U .S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The agency having custody of the prisoner will forward these
monthly payments to the Clerk of Court each time the amount in the prisoner's account exceeds
$10.00, until the filing fee is fully paid. Id.
In support of the instant motion, plaintiff submitted an affidavit and an inmate account
statement from the Cape Girardeau County Jail, where plaintiff was incarcerated at the time he
filed the complaint. According to the statement, plaintiff has no funds in his prison inmate
account available to pay the fee, and actually has a negative balance. For this reason, the Court
will waive the initial partial filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4) ("In no event shall a prisoner
be prohibited from bringing a civil action or appealing a civil or criminal judgment or the reason
that the prisoner has no assets and no means by which to pay the initial partial filing fee.").
Legal Standard on Initial Review
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed informa
pauperis if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
To state a claim for relief under § 1983, a complaint must plead more than "legal conclusions"
and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere
conclusory statements." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
A plaintiff must
demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a "mere possibility of misconduct."
Id. at 679. "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 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to, inter alia, draw upon judicial
experience and common sense. Id. at 679.
When reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2), the Court must give it the benefit
of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
However, this does not
mean that pro se complaints may be merely conclusory. Even pro se complaints are required to
allege facts which, if true, state a claim for relief as a matter of law. Martin v. Aubuchon, 623
F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980); see also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004)
(federal courts are not required to "assume facts that are not alleged, just because an additional
factual allegation would have formed a stronger complaint"). In addition, affording a pro se
complaint the benefit of a liberal construction does not mean that procedural rules in ordinary
civil litigation must be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without
counsel. See McNeil v. US., 508 U.S . 106, 113 (1993).
Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He names nine defendants: the
Cape Girardeau County Sheriffs Department, the Cape Girardeau County Detention Center,
Lieutenant T.C. Stevens, Sheriff John Jordan, Captain J.P. Mulcahy, Captain David James,
Captain Ruth Ann Dickerson, Sergeant Unknown Davis, and his attorney, Andy Morris. He sues
all defendants in their individual and official capacities.
The complaint is long and rambling, and includes a variety of allegations arising from
different occurrences. For example, plaintiff alleges that Stevens told him he could not use the
services of a notary public unless he had funds in his inmate account. Plaintiff also alleges that
he has not received responses to grievances he has filed. Plaintiff writes "THERE IS NO WAY
ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDY TO EXHAUST!!! " (Docket No. 1 at 5) (emphasis in original).
Plaintiff claims "this is causing me injury to my person" in that it is preventing him from
avoiding warrants and potential loss of liberty. Plaintiff claims "the denial of meaningful access
to the courts and a 'law library' is a reckless abandonment of an obligation of the state to provide
indigent inmates with items necessary to enforce their rights," and that Stevens told him the only
access to the courts he is entitled to is through an attorney, and that the only means to obtain an
appointed attorney is to complete an affidavit, which is a "unilateral adhesion contract" that will
trick him into incurring debt for attorney services.
(Id. at 6). Plaintiff complains about the
services his appointed attorney provided, and claims that the Cape Girardeau County Detention
Center subjects inmates to harsh treatment, fails to provide them with various supplies, and
overcharges for commissary items. He seeks injunctive and monetary relief.
The complaint is subject to dismissal. It is long and rambling, and it contains so much
extraneous information that it is difficult to discern exactly what claims plaintiff intends to bring
against which defendant. It fails to comply with Rules 8 and 10 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, and it purports to bring multiple unrelated claims against not one but nine defendants,
an impermissible pleading practice. 1 In addition, plaintiff merely lists the defendants ' names in
the caption of the complaint without specifying what each defendant personally did to violate his
constitutional rights. "Liability under § 1983 requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility
for, the alleged deprivation of rights. " Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th Cir.
1990); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009) ("Because vicarious liability is
inapplicable to Bivens and § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official
defendant, through the official ' s own individual actions, has violated the Constitution.").
Rule l 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states, "A party asserting a claim to relief as
an original claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, may join, either as independent or as
alternate claims, as many claims, legal, equitable, or maritime, as the party has against an opposing
Rule 20(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows for joinder of defendants if "any
right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out
of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and .. . any question of law
or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action."
Because plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court will give him an opportunity to file an
amended complaint. In so doing, plaintiff should select the transaction or occurrence he wishes
to pursue, and limit the facts and allegations to the defendant(s) involved therein.
should only include claims that arise out of the same transaction or occurrence, or simply put,
claims that are related to each other. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2). Alternatively, plaintiff may
choose a single defendant and set forth as many claims as he has against that defendant. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 18(a).
Plaintiff must prepare the amended complaint using a Court-provided form, and must
follow Rules 8 and 10 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In the "Caption" section of the
form complaint, plaintiff should write the name of the defendant(s) he wishes to sue. In the
"Statement of Claim" section, plaintiff should begin by writing the defendant's name.
separate, numbered paragraphs under that name, plaintiff should: (1) set forth the factual
allegations supporting his claim against that defendant; (2) state what constitutional or federal
statutory right(s) that defendant violated; and (3) state whether the defendant is being sued in
his/her individual capacity or official capacity.2 If plaintiff is suing more than one defendant, he
shall proceed in this manner with each one, separately writing each individual defendant's name
and, under that name, in numbered paragraphs, the allegations specific to that particular
defendant and the right(s) that defendant violated.
Plaintiff has twenty-one (21) days from the date of this Order to file an amended
complaint. Plaintiff is warned that the filing of the amended complaint completely replaces the
original. Claims that are not re-alleged are deemed abandoned. E.g. , In re Wireless Telephone
Federal Cost Recovery Fees Litigation, 396 F.3d 922, 928 (8th Cir. 2005).
The failure to sue a defendant in his or her individual capacity may result in the dismissal of that defendant.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis (Docket No. 2) is GRANTED . Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4), the initial partial
filing fee is waived.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the institution having custody of plaintiff shall,
whenever the amount in plaintiffs prison account exceeds $10.00, send monthly payments that
equal 20 percent of the funds credited to the account the preceding month to the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri Clerk' s office, pursuant to 28 U.S .C. §
1915(b)(2), until the filing fee of$350 is paid in full.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff shall submit an amended complaint, in
accordance with the instructions set forth in this Memorandum and Order, no later than twentyone (21) days from the date of this Memorandum and Order.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall mail to plaintiff two (2)
blank forms for the filing of a prisoner civil rights complaint. Plaintiff may request additional
forms from the Clerk, as needed.
If plaintiff fails to timely comply with this Order, the Court may dismiss this action,
without prejudice and without further notice.
Dated this P-11ay of September, 2017.
J. J •L_
RONNIE L. WHITE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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