Gunther v. Gowdy et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis # 2 is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk is directed to serve process on defendants in their individual capacities. Defendants are emp loyed by the State of Missouri. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's official-capacity claims are DISMISSED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's claims that concern events that occurred more than five years before he filed his complaint are DISMISSED. Signed by District Judge Rodney W. Sippel on 12/21/15. (LGK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
RICHARD GOWDY, et al.,
No. 4:15CV1851 NCC
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff, a civil detainee, seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this civil action
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The motion will be granted.
Standard of Review
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed in forma
pauperis if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
To state a claim for relief under § 1983, a complaint must plead more than “legal conclusions”
and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere
conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
A plaintiff must
demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of misconduct.”
Id. at 679. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and
common sense. Id. at 679.
Plaintiff has been detained in Missouri Department of Mental Health facilities since
1983. He brings several causes of action against defendants in both their individual and official
capacities. Plaintiff alleges that defendants punished him for filing a civil case against defendant
Dr. Richard Gowdy; that they placed him in the Sexual Offender Rehabilitation and Treatment
Services (SORTS), although he was never found to have committed a sexual offense; that they
have punished him for not admitting to such an offense; that they have taken his VA benefits for
room and board; and that he has been denied necessary medical treatment. He seeks monetary,
declaratory, and injunctive relief.
The Court finds that the complaint should not be dismissed at this time. Therefore, the
Court will direct the Clerk to serve process on the complaint.
The Eleventh Amendment prohibits damage actions against state officials acting in their
official capacities. See Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 n. 10 (1989). It
does not, however, “bar actions against state officers in their official capacities if the plaintiffs
seek only a declaratory judgment or injunctive relief.” Chaloux v. Killeen, 886 F.2d 247, 252
(9th Cir.1989) (internal citations omitted). As a result, while plaintiff’s demand for monetary
damages from defendants in their official capacities is frivolous, his demands for declaratory and
injunctive relief are not.
Additionally, “[a]lthough the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense, a district
court may properly dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint under 28 U.S.C. ' 1915 when it is
apparent the statute of limitations has run.” Myers v. Vogal, 960 F.2d 750, 751 (8th Cir. 1992).
Section 1983 claims are analogous to personal injury claims and are subject to Missouri’s five-
year statute of limitations. Sulik v. Taney County, Mo., 393 F.3d 765, 766-67 (8th Cir. 2005);
Mo. Rev. Stat. ' 516.120(4). Here, many of plaintiff’s allegations concern events that occurred
more than five years before he filed his complaint. Those claims will be dismissed.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis # is
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk is directed to serve process on defendants
in their individual capacities. Defendants are employed by the State of Missouri.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff’s official-capacity claims are DISMISSED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff’s claims that concern events that occurred
more than five years before he filed his complaint are DISMISSED.
Dated this 21st day of December, 2015.
RODNEY W. SIPPEL
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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