Wallace v. St. Louis City Justice Center et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 2] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff shall pay an initial filing fee of $2.70 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 registration number; (3) the case number; and (4) that the remittance is for an original proceeding. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause process to issue upon the complaint at this time. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff shall file an amended complaint within thirty (30) days from the date of this Order, in accordance with the specific instructions set forth above. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall mail to plaintiff the Court's form for filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's failure to amend his complaint in accordance with this Court's instructions will result in the dismissal of this action, without prejudice and without further notice to him.. Signed by District Judge John A. Ross on 3/19/13. (LGK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
ST. LOUIS CITY JUSTICE
CENTER, et al.,
No. 4:12CV2291 JAR
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff (registration no.
38025-044), an inmate at the Canaan United States Penitentiary in Waymart,
Pennsylvania, for leave to commence this action without payment of the required
filing fee. For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that plaintiff does not have
sufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee and will assess an initial partial filing fee
of $2.70. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Furthermore, based upon a review of the
complaint, the Court finds that the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), 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 six-month 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, until the filing fee is fully paid. Id.
Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit and a certified copy of his prison account
statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the submission of his
complaint. A review of plaintiff’s account indicates an average monthly deposit of
$13.49, and an average monthly balance of $3.04. Plaintiff has insufficient funds to
pay the entire filing fee. Accordingly, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee
of $2.70, which is 20 percent of plaintiff’s average monthly deposit.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must dismiss a complaint filed
in forma pauperis if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. An action is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact.”
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989). An action is malicious if it is
undertaken for the purpose of harassing the named defendants and not for the purpose
of vindicating a cognizable right. Spencer v. Rhodes, 656 F. Supp. 458, 461-63
(E.D.N.C. 1987), aff’d 826 F.2d 1059 (4th Cir. 1987).
To determine whether an action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted, the Court must engage in a two-step inquiry. First, the Court must identify
the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950-51 (2009). These include “legal conclusions”
and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by
mere conclusory statements.” Id. at 1949. Second, the Court must determine whether
the complaint states a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 1950-51. This is a “contextspecific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and
common sense.” Id. at 1950. The plaintiff is required to plead facts that show more
than the “mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. The Court must review the factual
allegations in the complaint “to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to
relief.” Id. at 1951. When faced with alternative explanations for the alleged
misconduct, the Court may exercise its judgment in determining whether plaintiff’s
conclusion is the most plausible or whether it is more likely that no misconduct
occurred. Id. at 1950, 51-52.
Plaintiff, an inmate at the Canaan United States Penitentiary in Waymart,
Pennsylvania, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of
his civil rights during his incarceration at the St. Louis City Justice Center in
September of 2011. Named as defendants are: the St. Louis City Justice Center; L.
Edward; R. Moore; T. Harry; Unknown Sims; T. Henderson; and Federal U.S.
Plaintiff asserts that a guard at the St. Louis City Justice Center, defendant
Sims, was bringing drugs into the Justice Center to two inmates, Robert Scott and
Plaintiff alleges that Sims and Scott were having a sexual
relationship, and that Sims told Hamilton and Scott that plaintiff had "snitched" on
friends and family members of Hamilton's. Plaintiff claims that Scott and Hamilton
put a "hit" out on his life as a result of Sims' sharing of confidential information about
plaintiff's FBI informant status.
Plaintiff claims that he was "jumped" on September 24, 2011, while being
housed by the Feds (the U.S. Marshals) at the St. Louis City Justice Center. He claims
his attackers were inmates Larry Hamilton and D. Jackson. Plaintiff claims that he
was severely beaten and stabbed and he has attached several medical records, IRRs
and grievances to his complaint in support of his claim.
Plaintiff alleges that despite knowledge of known enemies, on May 31, 2012,
he was sent back to the St. Louis City Justice Center and housed in 3-D Pod with D.
Jackson, one of his attackers. As of the time of the filing of his complaint, in
December of 2012, plaintiff claims he had not been moved from 3-D Pod despite the
filing of numerous grievances to defendants R. Moore and T. Henderson, workers at
the Justice Center. Plaintiff has not indicated whether he has suffered any alleged
harm since his incarceration at the City Justice Center after May of 2012.
Plaintiff seeks monetary damages in his complaint.
The Court has reviewed the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and believes
that, although plaintiff may be able to assert a claim based upon the denial of his
Constitutional rights, he has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
at this time, because the complaint is silent as to whether he is suing the named
defendants in their official and/or individual capacities.1
The complaint is silent as to whether defendants are being sued in their
official or individual capacities. Where a “complaint is silent about the capacity in
which [plaintiff] is suing defendant, [a district court must] interpret the complaint
as including only official-capacity claims.” Egerdahl v. Hibbing Community
College, 72 F.3d 615, 619 (8th Cir.1995); Nix v. Norman, 879 F.2d 429, 431 (8th
Taking into consideration the fact that plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in
forma pauperis, the Court will grant him time to file an amended complaint on a Court
form, setting forth the capacity (i.e., official and/or individual) in which he is suing
each of the named defendants. Moreover, because the Court is allowing plaintiff to
amend his complaint, it will take no action as to the named defendants at this time.2
Cir. 1989). Naming a government official in his or her official capacity is the
equivalent of naming the government entity that employs the official. To state a
claim against a municipality or a government official in his or her official capacity,
plaintiff must allege that a policy or custom of the municipality is responsible for
the alleged constitutional violation. Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436
U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). The instant complaint does not contain any allegations
that a policy or custom of a municipality was responsible for the alleged violations
of plaintiff’s constitutional rights. As a result, the complaint, as it stands, fails to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted against the individual defendants.
Moreover, plaintiff’s claim against St. Louis City Justice Center is legally
frivolous because the Justice Center is not a suable entity. Ketchum v. City of
West Memphis, Ark., 974 F.2d 81, 82 (8th Cir. 1992) (departments or subdivisions
of local government are “not juridical entities suable as such.”); Catlett v. Jefferson
County, 299 F. Supp. 2d 967, 968-69 (E.D. Mo. 2004).
Plaintiff has failed to make any allegations against defendant L. Edward or
against the Federal U.S. Marshal. “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 also Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d
1334, 1338 (8th Cir. 1985) (claim not cognizable under § 1983 where plaintiff fails
to allege defendant was personally involved in or directly responsible for incidents
that injured plaintiff); Boyd v. Knox, 47 F.3d 966, 968 (8th Cir. 1995)(respondeat
superior theory inapplicable in § 1983 suits).
Plaintiff is reminded that his amended complaint will supersede his original
complaint and will be the only complaint this Court reviews. Thus, plaintiff must
include in the "Caption" of the amended complaint the names of all defendants he
wishes to sue in this action; in the "Statement of Claim," he must set out, in separate
numbered paragraphs, specific facts against each named defendant, and he must state
whether he is suing each defendant in his individual and/or official capacity; and in
the "Relief" section, he must briefly set out what he wants the Court to do for him.
Plaintiff must also sign the amended complaint.
In accordance with the foregoing,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis [Doc. #2] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff shall pay an initial filing fee
of $2.70 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 registration number; (3) the case number; and (4)
that the remittance is for an original proceeding.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause
process to issue upon the complaint at this time.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff shall file an amended complaint
within thirty (30) days from the date of this Order, in accordance with the specific
instructions set forth above.3
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall mail to plaintiff the Court's
form for filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's failure to amend his complaint
in accordance with this Court's instructions will result in the dismissal of this action,
without prejudice and without further notice to him.
Dated this 19th day of March, 2013.
JOHN A. ROSS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
For his amended complaint, plaintiff shall use the court-provided form for
filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
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