McGinnist v. Sachse et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this action is DISMISSED without prejudice. An Order of Dismissal will be filed with this Memorandum and Order.. Signed by District Judge John A. Ross on 9/18/12. (LGK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
JENNIFER SACHSE, et al.,
No. 4:12CV1452 JAR
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on review of plaintiff’s amended complaint
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). Under § 1915(e), the Court is required to review all
actions filed in forma pauperis and to dismiss any such action if it is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Upon review of
the action, the Court finds that it must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
The Amended Complaint
Plaintiff, a prisoner, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. At all times
relevant to the complaint, plaintiff was incarcerated at Missouri Eastern Correctional
Center (“MECC”). Defendant Jennifer Sachse is the Warden of MECC; defendant
Michael Vernaci is a Correctional Officer; defendant Brenda Short is the Assistant
Warden; and defendant Dwayne Kempker is the Deputy Division Director – Adult
Institutions. Plaintiff sues defendants in their official capacities.
Plaintiff alleges that on July 25, 2010, defendant Vernaci entered his cell and
sprayed him with mace for no reason. Plaintiff claims that Vernaci also gave him a
false conduct violation for creating a disturbance. The conduct violation, says
plaintiff, was later dismissed for lack of evidence. Plaintiff filed a grievance about the
Plaintiff says that on November 12, 2010, defendant Kempker sided with
Vernaci, finding that there was no evidence to support plaintiff’s claims regarding the
alleged assault. Plaintiff believes that Kempker’s finding defamed his character in
that it inferred he was lying about the incident.
Plaintiff asserts that defendants Sachse and Short violated the prison’s policies
by failing to find and report that Vernaci had abused him.
When the Court reviewed the original complaint, the Court noted the
deficiencies in the complaint so that plaintiff could cure them. One of the primary
deficiencies in the original complaint was that plaintiff did not specify in what
capacity he wished to sue defendants, and as a result, the Court was required to
construe the complaint as containing only official-capacity claims. And, because
defendants are state officials, plaintiff’s claims against defendants in their official
capacities failed to state a claim. Plaintiff has again failed to specify in which capacity
he is suing defendants.
Where a “complaint is silent about the capacity in which [plaintiff] is suing
defendant, [a district court must] interpret the complaint as including only officialcapacity claims.” Egerdahl v. Hibbing Community College, 72 F.3d 615, 619 (8th
Cir. 1995); Nix v. Norman, 879 F.2d 429, 431 (8th Cir. 1989). Naming a government
official in his or her official capacity is the equivalent of naming the government
entity that employs the official, in this case the State of Missouri. Will v. Michigan
Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). “[N]either a State nor its officials
acting in their official capacity are ‘persons’ under § 1983.” Id. As a result, the
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Moreover, plaintiff’s claims against Sachse, Short, and Kempker do not state
a viable claim under § 1983 because plaintiff has not alleged facts showing that they
were directly involved in the alleged violations of his constitutional rights. See
Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th Cir. 1990).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this action is DISMISSED without
An Order of Dismissal will be filed with this Memorandum and Order.
Dated this 18th day of September, 2012.
JOHN A. ROSS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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