Wright v. Drury et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER re: 2 MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis under 42:1983 (prisoner) filed by Plaintiff Jonathan Wright motion is GRANTEDIT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff must pay an initial filing fee of $9.25 within thirt y (30) days of the date of this Order. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff shall submit an amended complaint inaccordance with the instructions set forth herein within twenty-one (21) days of the date of this Memorandum and Order. IT IS FURTHER ORDE RED that the Clerk of Court shall mail to plaintiff two blank Prisoner Civil Rights Complaint forms, and one prisoner Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis form. Plaintiff may request additional forms as needed(Amended/Supplemental Pleadings due by 10/10/2017., Initial Partial Filing Fee due by 10/19/2017.). Signed by District Judge Ronnie L. White on 9/19/17. (MRS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
JONA THAN WRIGHT,
WES DRURY, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon pro se plaintiff Jonathan Wright's motion for leave
to proceed in forma pauperis. (Docket No. 2). The Court has reviewed the financial information
plaintiff submitted in support, and has determined to grant the motion. In addition, as will be
explained below, plaintiff will be given the opportunity to submit an amended complaint.
28 U.S.C. § 191S(b)(l)
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(l), a prisoner bringing a civil action in forma 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 showing an average monthly balance of $46.28. The Court will therefore assess an
initial partial filing fee of $9.25, twenty percent of plaintiffs average monthly balance.
Legal Standard on Initial Review
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed informa
pauper is if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. A
pleading that offers "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause
of action will not do," nor will a complaint suffice if it tenders "naked assertion[ s]" devoid of
"further factual enhancement."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
When conducting initial review pursuant to § 1915(e)(2), the Court must accept as true
the allegations in the complaint, and must give the complaint the benefit of a liberal construction.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the tenet that a court must accept the
allegations as true does not apply to legal conclusions, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, and 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). 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").
Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S .C. § 1983. Named as defendants are Wes
Drury, Justin Wouten, Ryan Dennis, Unknown Pratt, Unknown Scoggins, and Ryan Unknown.
Plaintiff sues all defendants in their official and individual capacities.
According to the allegations in the complaint, on April 15, 2017, defendant Ryan
Unknown, a corrections officer, slammed plaintiffs right hand while plaintiff was handcuffed,
causing injuries serious enough that plaintiff sought medical attention and was taken to the
hospital. On June 13, 2017, while he was locked in his cell, plaintiff asked defendant Wouten to
explain why he had been placed on lock down. Wouten replied that plaintiff should "shut up and
deal with it." (Docket No. 1 at 5). Plaintiff protested, and Wouten returned with a can of mace
and told plaintiff to lay on his bed. Plaintiff refused, and Wouten sprayed mace through the
"choke hole" and then slammed it shut.
(Id. at 6).
Plaintiff suffered an asthma attack and
required a breathing treatment as a result. Regarding the remaining named defendants, it is
unclear exactly what plaintiff alleges they did to violate his constitutional rights.
Plaintiff attempts to bring unrelated claims against not one but six defendants. Rule
20(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs joinder of defendants, and provides as
Persons ... may be joined in one action as defendants if: (A) 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 (B) any
question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the
Therefore, plaintiff cannot join, in a single lawsuit, unrelated claims against different
defendants. In other words, plaintiffs claim that Ryan Unknown slammed his hand on April 13,
2017 should not be joined with his claim that Wooten unjustly maced him on June 13, 2017. See
George v. Smith , 507 F.3d 605 , 607 (7th Cir. 2007) ("Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be
joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2.").
"Unrelated claims against different
defendants belong in different suits, ... [in part] to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing
fees - for the Prison Litigation Reform Act limits to 3 the number of frivolous suits or appeals
that any prisoner may file without prepayment of the required fees ." Id.
Rule l 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which governs joinder of claims,
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 party.
Therefore, multiple claims against a single defendant are valid.
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 in it. Plaintiff 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.
If plaintiff wishes to pursue additional claims against additional defendants, and the
claims do not arise from the same transaction or occurrence he has chosen to advance in his
amended complaint, he must file each claim as a new civil action on a separate complaint form,
and either pay the filing fee or file a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
Plaintiff must prepare the amended
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. Plaintiff
should also indicate whether he intends to sue each defendant in his or her individual or official
In the "Statement of Claim" section, plaintiff should begin by writing the defendant's
name. In separate, numbered paragraphs under that name, plaintiff should: (1) set forth the facts
that support his claim against that defendant; and (2) to the extent he knows it, state what
constitutional or federal statutory right(s) that defendant violated. 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 factual allegations specific
to that particular defendant and the right(s) that defendant violated. Plaintiffs failure to make
specific and actionable factual allegations against any defendant will result in that defendant's
dismissal from this case.
Plaintiff shall have 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. E.g., Jn re Wireless Telephone Federal Cost Recovery Fees Litigation, 396 F.3d 922,
928 (8th Cir. 2005).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs motion to proceed in forma pauperis
(Docket No. 2) is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff must pay an initial filing fee of $9 .25 within
thirty (30) days of the date of this Order. Plaintiff is instructed to make his remittance payable to
"Clerk, United States District Court," and to include upon it: (1) his name; (2) his prison
The failure to sue a defendant in his or her individual capacity may result in the dismissal of that defendant.
registration number; (3) this case number; and (4) the statement that the remittance is for an
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff shall submit an amended complaint in
accordance with the instructions set forth herein within twenty-one (21) days of the date of this
Memorandum and Order.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall mail to plaintiff two blank
Prisoner Civil Rights Complaint forms , and one prisoner Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
form. Plaintiff may request additional forms as needed.
If plaintiff fails to timely comply with this Memorandum and Order, the Court may
dismiss this action without prejudice and without further notice.
/~ay of September, 2017.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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