Crites v. St. Louis County Justice Services et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff=s motion to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. # 2 ] is GRANTED. FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause process to issue, because the complaint is legally frivolous and fails t o state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See 28 U.S.C. ' 1915(e)(2)(B). IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all of plaintiff's remaining pendingmotions are DENIED as moot. A separate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order. Signed by District Judge Jean C. Hamilton on 09/01/2015. (CLK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
DAVID W. CRITES,
ST. LOUIS COUNTY JUSTICE
SERVICES, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the motion of David W. Crites (registration
no. 78188) for leave to commence this action without payment of the required filing
fee. Plaintiff’s financial information indicates he does not sufficient funds to pay
any part of the filing fee. As such, the Court will grant him in forma pauperis status
at this time, without assessing an initial partial filing fee. 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(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).
action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead
Aenough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.@ Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
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 "context-specific 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 1950-52.
Moreover, 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 (1992).
Plaintiff, an inmate at the Madison County Jail in Edwardsville, Illinois, seeks
monetary relief in this action for the violation of his constitutional rights under 42
U.S.C. ' 1983, which allegedly occurred at the St. Louis County Jail. Named as
defendants are the St. Louis County Justice Services, the Director of Nursing,
Herbert L. Bersen, and KSDK News Channel 5. Plaintiff alleges that defendants
will not “give him his shoes out of property” without a medical request, that he is
being denied medical care and recreation privileges, and that KSDK News posted
his mugshot photo on a news article he did not commit. In addition, plaintiff states
that after he was transferred to the Madison County Jail, he did not have access to
law books, and it took him a long time to obtain postage stamps.
Having carefully reviewed the complaint, the Court concludes that dismissal
is warranted under 28 U.S.C. ' 1915(e)(2)(B). Plaintiff brings this action against
defendants 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 complaint 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 government entity is responsible for the alleged
constitutional violation. Monell v. Dep=t of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91
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 a result, the complaint is legally frivolous and
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Moreover, to state a claim under ' 1983, a plaintiff must allege (1) that the
defendant acted under color of state law, and (2) that the alleged conduct deprived
the plaintiff of a constitutionally-protected federal right. Schmidt v. City of Bella
Villa, 557 F.3d 564, 571 (8th Cir. 2009). Plaintiff has failed to allege, and there is
no indication, that defendant KSDK News or its employees are state actors within
the meaning of ' 1983. Moreover, plaintiff=s allegations do not rise to the level of
constitutional violations and fail to state a claim or cause of action under ' 1983.
As additional grounds for dismissing this action, the Court notes that
defendant St. Louis County Justice Services is not a suable entity, and plaintiff’s
claims against the County jail employees and KSDK are not properly joined. See
Ketchum v. City of West Memphis, Ark., 974 F.2d 81, 81 (8th Cir. 1992)
(departments or subdivisions of local government are Anot juridical entities suable
as such@); Catlett v. Jefferson County, 299 F. Supp. 2d 967, 968-69 (E.D. Mo.
2004) (same); Lair v. Norris, 32 Fed. Appx. 175, 2002 WL 496779 (8th Cir. 2002)
(jails are not suable entities); Alsbrook v. City of Maumelle, 184 F.3d 999, 1010
(8th Cir. 1999) (en banc) (' 1983 suit cannot be brought against state agency);
Marsden v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 856 F. Supp. 832, 836 (S.D.N.Y. 1994) (jails
are not entities amenable to suit); Fed. R. Civ. P. 18 and 20.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff=s motion to proceed in forma
pauperis [Doc. #2] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause
process to issue, 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).
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all of plaintiff's remaining pending
motions are DENIED as moot.
A separate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order.
Dated this 1st day of September, 2015.
\s\ Jean C. Hamilton
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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