Lesley v. Teague et al
OPINION MEMORANDUM AND ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs motion for leave to file an amended complaint [ECF No. 28] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk is directed to serve process on defendant Jeffery Ostemann. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendants Dean Minor, Alan Earls, and John Does 1-10 are DISMISSED without prejudice.An Order of Partial Dismissal will be filed separately. 28 Signed by District Judge Henry Edward Autrey on 1/5/16. (CLA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MS. JANE DOE TEAGUE, et al.,
No. 2:15CV59 HEA
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff moves for leave to file a fourth amended complaint. The motion is
granted. Additionally, after review of the amended complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e),
the Court finds that some of plaintiff’s claims must be dismissed.
Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that “[t]he court should
freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires.”
The Supreme Court has
enunciated the following general standard, which is to be employed under Rule 15(a) by
the district courts:
If the underlying facts or circumstances relied upon by a plaintiff may be a
proper subject of relief, he ought to be afforded an opportunity to test his
claim on the merits. In the absence of any apparent or declared
reasonCsuch as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the
movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously
allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of
the amendment, futility of amendment, etc.Cthe leave sought should, as the
rules require, be “freely given.”
Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).
The Court has reviewed the amended complaint and finds no reason why leave
should not be granted. Therefore, the Court turns to review of the complaint under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e).
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed in
forma 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 draw on its judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.
In addition to the claims the Court has addressed in previous Orders, plaintiff
brings claims against Jeffery Ostemann, Dean Minor, Alan Earls, and ten John Does.
Plaintiff alleges that Ostemann deliberately hurt his arms while he was handcuffed,
causing severe trauma, and he further alleges that Ostemann put him in a suicide cell to
punish him. He says that Minor and Earls denied his grievances. And he alleges that the
John Doe defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs.
Plaintiff’s claim that Ostemann deliberately injured his arms states a plausible
claim for relief. The Court will, therefore, direct the Clerk to serve process on him.
Plaintiff’s claim regarding his assignment to a suicide cell, however, must be
dismissed. There is no liberty interest in assignment to any particular prison, or housing
unit within a prison; therefore, plaintiff has no due process claim.
Thalacker, 83 F.3d 970, 973 (8th Cir.1996) (citing Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 224
(1976)). Moreover, plaintiff’s claims regarding assignment to a suicide cell fail to state a
claim under the Eighth Amendment.
Conditions are not cruel and unusual merely
because they are harsh or uncomfortable. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994).
To be cruel and unusual, the inmate must be deprived of one or more basic life
necessities. Brown v. Nix, 33 F.3d 951 (8th Cir.1994). And there is no constitutional
right not to be put in a cell without clothing or bedding. Williams v. Delo, 49 F.3d 442,
446 (8th Cir.1995). As a result, this claim is dismissed.
Plaintiff’s allegations against Minor and Earls fail to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. See George v. Smith, 507 F. 3d 605, 609 (7th Cir. 2007) (“Only
persons who cause or participate in the [constitutional] violations are responsible. Ruling
against a prisoner on an administrative complaint does not cause or contribute to the
violation.”). As a result, these defendants are dismissed.
Finally, fictitious parties generally may not be named as defendants in a civil
action. Phelps v. United States, 15 F.3d 735, 739 (8th Cir. 1994). An action may
proceed against a party whose name is unknown, however, if the complaint makes
sufficiently specific allegations to permit the identity of the party to be ascertained after
reasonable discovery. Munz v. Parr, 758 F.2d 1254, 1257 (8th Cir. 1985). In this case,
the allegations against the John Does are not sufficiently specific. As a result, the Court
will dismiss them without prejudice. If plaintiff is able to learn their identities during
discovery, he may seek leave to file an amended complaint.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion for leave to file an amended
complaint [ECF No. 28] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk is directed to serve process on
defendant Jeffery Ostemann.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendants Dean Minor, Alan Earls, and John
Does 1-10 are DISMISSED without prejudice.
An Order of Partial Dismissal will be filed separately.
Dated this 5th day of January, 2016.
HENRY EDWAR AUTREY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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