Wagner v. Worsham
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. #2] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff shall pay an initial filing fee of $12.60 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 orig inal proceeding. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause process to issue upon the complaint. An Order of Dismissal will accompany this Memorandum and Order. ( Initial Partial Filing Fee due by 1/28/2016.). Signed by District Judge Catherine D. Perry on December 29, 2015. (MCB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
No. 4:15CV1362 CDP
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff Benjamin W. Wagner
(registration no.318902), an inmate at Farmington Correctional Center (“FCC”), for leave to
commence this action without payment of the required filing fee. For the reasons stated below,
the Court finds that the plaintiff does not have sufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee and
will assess an initial partial filing fee of $12.60 at this time. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).
Furthermore, after reviewing the complaint, the Court will dismiss this action 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 sixmonth 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.
A review of plaintiff's account indicates an average monthly deposit of $63.00, and an
average monthly balance of $23.16. Plaintiff has insufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee.
Accordingly, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $12.60, 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 Alacks an arguable basis in either law or fact.@ Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319,
328 (1989); Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). 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). A complaint fails to state a claim 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.”
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 FCC, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging
violations of his civil rights which allegedly occurred during his incarceration at FCC.
Plaintiff is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“LDS”). He
claims that the Missouri Department of Corrections, through defendant Doug Worsham whom
plaintiff states is the Supervisor of Religious/Spiritual Program at MDOC, classifies LDS as a
General Christian group. He says that Catholicism is in its “own category,” but he does not
really state what that means. The separate religious groups are given their own money for
religious holidays, and each religion celebrates its main holidays according to their own faith.
Plaintiff believes that he is being discriminated against because the LDS Church is not given its
own classification. He says that other Christians do not believe in the Book of Mormon, and so
he is burdened because he cannot preach to them.
Plaintiff sues defendant Worsham individually and in his official capacity. He seeks
injunctive relief1, as well as damages in an amount in excess of $80,000.
Although civil rights pleadings should be construed liberally, at the very least, however,
the complaint must contain facts which state a claim as a matter of law and must not be
As part of his request for injunctive relief, plaintiff requests separate funds for celebrating
conclusory. Frey v. City of Herculaneum, 44 F.3d 667, 671 (8th Cir. 1995). Plaintiff has not
stated the grounds under which he is suing defendant Worsham, noting only that he believes his
religious rights have been violated. From the allegations contained in plaintiff’s complaint, the
Court will assume plaintiff would like to bring an action for a violation of the Free Exercise
Clause of the First Amendment.
While prisoners retain their constitutional rights, they are subject to limitations on those
rights “in light of the needs of the penal system.” Murphy v. Mo. Dep't of Corr., 372 F.3d 979,
982 (8th Cir.2004), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 991 (2004). An inmate's constitutional claims are
evaluated under a lesser standard of scrutiny, even though such claims would receive strict
scrutiny analysis if brought by a member of the general population. Id. “A prison regulation or
action is valid, therefore, even if it restricts a prisoner's constitutional rights if it is ‘reasonably
related to legitimate penological interests.’” Id. (quoting Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89,
Plaintiff has not stated enough in his complaint to allege a First Amendment claim
against defendant Worsham in his individual capacity under the Free Exercise Clause. 2
Plaintiff has failed to assert any facts alleging that defendant Worsham was directly involved in
or personally responsible for a specific violation of plaintiff's rights, i.e., that plaintiff requested
something specific related to his religious needs and was denied his request for a discriminatory
reason. See, e.g., Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th Cir. 1990) (ALiability under '
1983 requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the alleged deprivation of rights.@);
see also Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1338 (8th Cir. 1985) (claim not cognizable under '
Plaintiff’s claims under the Free Exercise Clause against defendant Worsham in his official
capacity also fail to state a claim. 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.
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).
Moreover, plaintiff has not stated the exact nature of his free exercise claim. Plaintiff has
not fully articulated a way in which his right to exercise his religion has been burdened, or who
or what placed the burden on him. Plaintiff has admitted that he is allowed to exercise his
religion, just as the other inmates who practice different religions around him are. However,
what plaintiff apparently is seeking is special treatment for his religion, which the First
Amendment does not provide.
For the aforementioned reasons, plaintiff’s First Amendment claim is subject to
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc.
#2] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff shall pay an initial filing fee of $12.60
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
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause process to
issue upon the complaint.
An Order of Dismissal will accompany this Memorandum and Order.
Dated this 29th day of December, 2015.
CATHERINE D. PERRY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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