Hackman v. Baumgatner et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER. (see order for details) IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. # 2 ] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff shall pay an initial filing fee of $2.33 within thirty (3 0) days of the date of this Order. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause process to issue upon the complaint, because the complaint is legally frivolous and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A separate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order. Signed by District Judge E. Richard Webber on 06/07/2013. (CBL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
J. BAUMGATNER, et al.,
No. 4:13CV00754 ERW
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon the motion of Joshua Hackman (registration
no. n/a), an inmate at the St. Charles County Department of Corrections, 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 therefore, the motion will be granted, and plaintiff will be assessed an
initial partial filing fee of $2.33. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Furthermore, based upon
a review of the complaint, the Court finds that this action 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
$11.67, and an average monthly balance of $0.00. Plaintiff has insufficient funds to
pay the entire filing fee. Accordingly, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee
of $2.33, 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 may 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 against a defendant who is immune from
such relief. An action is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis in either law or in fact.”
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
In reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must give the
complaint the benefit of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
(1972). The Court must also weigh all factual allegations in favor of the plaintiff,
unless the facts alleged are clearly baseless. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33
Plaintiff brings this action for monetary relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
defendants J. Baumgatner (Correctional Officer), Debbie Unknown (Nurse), Larry
Crawford, and the St. Charles County Jail. Plaintiff alleges that, upon his arrival at the
St. Charles County Jail in February 2013, his “medical crutches were taken . . . and
placed in . . . property,” and he was not allowed to use them. Also, he requested nonpork food at meals, based on his religion; however, it was not until “weeks later” that
he received the proper food. Plaintiff states that he has a “foot condition,” and his
mother was not allowed to bring certain shoes for him. Thereafter, due to the alleged
malice of defendants Baumgatner and Nurse Debbie, he was assigned to a “top floor
cell,” which has caused him “great pain and suffering.” Plaintiff further alleges that the
Jail had no running water on April 6, 2013, and two days later, he “was told not to
drink water when it was running again due to contamination.”
Plaintiff brings this action against defendants Baumgatner, Debbie Unknown,
and Crawford in their official capacities. See Egerdahl v. Hibbing Community
College, 72 F.3d 615, 619 (8th Cir. 1995)(where a complaint is silent about
defendant’s capacity, Court must interpret the pleading as including official-capacity
claims); 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. Will v. Michigan Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71
(1989). To state a claim against a municipality or a government official in his or her
official capacity, a plaintiff must allege that a policy or custom of the employing
government entity is responsible for the alleged constitutional violation. Monell v.
Dep’t 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 government entity was responsible
for the alleged violations of plaintiff’s constitutional rights. As such, the complaint is
legally frivolous and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted as to
defendants J. Baumgatner, Debbie Unknown, and Larry Crawford.
The complaint is also legally frivolous as to defendant St. Charles County Jail,
because jails are not suable entities. See Lair v. Norris, 32 Fed. Appx. 175, 2002 WL
496779 (8th Cir. 2002); Alsbrook v. City of Maumelle, 184 F.3d 999, 1010 (8th Cir.
1999)(§ 1983 suit cannot be brought against state agency), cert. dismissed, 529 U.S.
1001 (2000); Marsden v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 856 F. Supp. 832, 836 (S.D.N.Y.
1994)(jails are not entities amenable to suit). For these reasons, the Court will dismiss
this action pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B).
As additional grounds for dismissing this action, the Court notes that, in order
to state a claim for unconstitutional medical mistreatment, a plaintiff must plead facts
sufficient to indicate deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Camberos v. Branstad, 73 F.3d 174, 175 (8th Cir.
1995). To show deliberate indifference, a plaintiff must allege that he suffered
objectively serious medical needs and that defendants actually knew of but disregarded
those needs. Dulany v. Carnahan, 132 F.3d 1234, 1239 (8th Cir. 1997). To state a
claim of deliberate indifference, “the prisoner must show more than negligence, more
even than gross negligence, and mere disagreement with treatment decisions does not
rise to the level of a constitutional violation.” Estate of Rosenberg v. Crandell, 56 F.3d
35, 37 (8th Cir. 1995). Plaintiff’s allegations relative to his “foot condition” do not rise
to the level of deliberate indifference.
Moreover, “[l]iability 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 that defendant
was personally involved in or directly responsible for the incidents that injured
plaintiff); Boyd v. Knox, 47 F.3d 966, 968 (8th Cir. 1995) (respondeat superior theory
inapplicable in § 1983 suits). In the instant action, plaintiff has not set forth any facts
indicating that the named defendants were directly involved in or were personally
responsible for the alleged pork meals he received or the lack of clean water. As a
result, plaintiff has failed to establish a causal link between defendants and the alleged
deprivation of rights.
Last, if plaintiff chooses to file another lawsuit(s) in the future, he should be
mindful of the Court rules pertaining to joinder of parties and claims.
Rule 18(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 party.” 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.”
Thus, if, for instance, plaintiff wishes to bring a claim against a certain
individual(s) for serving him pork and against another individual(s) for denying him
medical care, he must file a separate lawsuit against each of them, in compliance with
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, because the serving of pork does not arise out of
the same transaction or occurrence as the denial of medical care, and there are no
common questions of law or fact.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma
pauperis [Doc. #2] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff shall pay an initial filing fee of
$2.33 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, because the complaint is legally frivolous and fails
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
A separate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order.
So Ordered this 7th day of June, 2013.
E. RICHARD WEBBER
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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