Mitchell v. Buzz Westfall 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 Clerk shall not issue process or cause process to issue upon the complaint, because the compl aint is legally frivolous and fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel [Doc. 4] is DENIED as moot. A separate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order. 2 4 Signed by District Judge Jean C. Hamilton on 4/26/16. (CLA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
KRISTINA MARIE MITCHELL
BUZZ WESTFALL JUSTICE
CENTER, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the motion of Kristina Marie Mitchell for
leave to commence this action without payment of the required filing fee [Doc. 2].
Upon consideration of the financial information provided with the motion, the Court
finds that plaintiff is financially unable to pay the filing fee, and therefore, the
motion will be granted. Furthermore, for the reasons set forth below, the Court will
dismiss this action 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 may dismiss a complaint
filed in forma pauperis at any time 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 Ait 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 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). 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 brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ' 1983.
defendants are the Buzz Westfall Justice Center, the County of St. Louis, Missouri,
Jane Does 1-7 (Correctional Officers), and John Does 1-2 (Correctional Officers).
Plaintiff is suing defendants in their individual and official capacities.
Plaintiff alleges that defendants violated her Fourth and Eighth Amendment
rights on January 14, 2014, at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center. She summarily
states that she “refused to do the strip search and was harassed by John Doe 1.” She
further states that “Jane Doe 6 was a nurse at the facility who initially promised she
would be in the room of the strip search during and afterwards but did not go with
what she had promised.” Plaintiff complains that she was “forced to shower in
front of guards Jane Doe 1-5, and while doing so was threatened with a beat down
and possible death” and that “Jane Doe[s] 1-5 all sexually and physically harassed
[her], like Jane Doe 2 mocking [plaintiff’s] private parts and also patting her
uncomfortably on the shoulder after the harassing strip search.” Plaintiff complains
that Jane Doe 6 “commented about procuring [plaintiff’s] DNA at an earlier false
arrest in July of 2012[,] and John Doe 2 . . . harassed [her] for not sleeping.”
Plaintiff summarily alleges that she is of the opinion that John Doe 2 “wanted to do
her harm” and that “Jane Does’ 1-5 use of excessive force” violated her Eighth
Amendment rights. Plaintiff states she is suing defendants for “excessive force and
battery, unlawful search and seizure, unlawful arrest, unlawful entry, harassment,
malicious prosecution, and indecent assault and battery.”
Having carefully reviewed plaintiff's allegations, the Court concludes that the
complaint is legally frivolous as to the Buzz Westfall Justice Center, because jails
and local government detention centers are not suable entities. See Marsden v. Fed.
Bureau of Prisons, 856 F. Supp. 832, 836 (S.D.N.Y. 1994) (jails are not entities
amenable to suit); Ketchum v. City of West Memphis, Ark., 974 F.2d 81, 82 (8th Cir.
1992) (departments or subdivisions of local government are Anot juridical entities
suable as such@); Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d 1210, 1214-15 (11th Cir. 1992)
("[s]heriff's departments and police departments are not usually considered legal
entities subject to suit"); McCoy v. Chesapeake Correctional Center, 788 F.Supp.
890 (E.D.Va. 1992) (local jails are not "persons" under ' 1983).
The complaint is also legally frivolous as to the County of St. Louis, Missouri,
and all Jane and John Doe defendants in their official capacities. Official-capacity
suits are tantamount to suits brought directly against the public entity of which the
official is an agent. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985). To state a
claim against a public entity or a government official in his or her official capacity,
a plaintiff must allege that a policy or custom of the public entity was responsible
for the alleged constitutional violation.
Brandon v. Holt, 469 U.S. 464, 473
(1985); Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978).
Because plaintiff does not claim that a public entity=s policy or custom was
responsible for the violation of her constitutional rights, the complaint fails to state
a claim or cause of action under ' 1983 as to the County of St. Louis, as well as all
defendants in their official capacities.
The Court will also dismiss plaintiff’s individual capacity claims against the
Jane and John Doe defendants as conclusory and/or as legally frivolous and for
failure to state a claim or cause of action. Plaintiff’s summary allegations are not
entitled to the assumption of truth, and her claims do not rise to the level of
constitutional violations and fail to state a claim or cause of action under § 1983.
See 28 U.S.C. ' 1915(e)(2)(B); Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-78 (legal conclusions and
threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action that are supported by mere
conclusory statements are not entitled to the assumption of truth); Jeffers v. Gomez,
267 F.3d 895, 915 (9th Cir. 2001) (§ 1983 liability arises only upon a showing of
personal participation by defendant); Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th
Cir. 1990) (liability under § 1983 requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility
for, the alleged deprivation of rights); 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
For these reasons, the Court will dismiss this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
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 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 may be granted.
See 28 U.S.C.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for appointment of
counsel [Doc. 4] is DENIED as moot.
A separate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order.
Dated this 26th day of April, 2016.
/s/ Jean C. Hamilton
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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