Shaw v. Rodebaugh et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER : IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Docket No. 2) is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff must pay an initial filing fee of $14.41 within twenty-one (21) 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) the statement that the rem ittanceis for an original proceeding.IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff shall submit an amended complaint inaccordance with the instructions herein no later than twenty-one (21) days from the date of this Memorandum and Order. Plaintiff is cautioned that his failure to timely comply shall result in the dismissal of this action without prejudice and without further notice.( Response to Court due by 3/15/2017.) Signed by Magistrate Judge John M. Bodenhausen on 2/22/17. (ARL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
BRANDON Q. SHAW,
MARK RODEBAUGH, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff Brandon Q. Shaw, an inmate
at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center, for leave to commence this civil action without
prepayment of the required filing fee. The motion will be granted, and plaintiff will be given
leave to file an amended complaint.
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
$10.00, until the filing fee is fully paid. Id.
In support of the instant motion, plaintiff submitted an affidavit and a certified inmate
account statement showing average monthly deposits of $72.07. The Court therefore assesses an
initial partial filing fee of $14.41, twenty percent of plaintiff’s average monthly deposit.
Legal Standard on Initial Review
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), 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, inter alia, draw upon judicial
experience and common sense. Id. at 679.
A Court must liberally construe a pro se complaint, and must accept as true the factual
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
However, even pro se
complaints are required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim for relief as a matter of law.
Martin v. Aubuchon, 623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980); see also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912,
914-15 (8th Cir. 2004) (federal courts are not required to “assume facts that are not alleged, just
because an additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger complaint”). The tenet
that a court must accept a complaint’s allegations as true is inapplicable to legal conclusions.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In addition, affording a pro se complaint the benefit of a liberal
construction does not mean that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation must be interpreted
so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel. See McNeil v. U.S., 508 U.S.
106, 113 (1993).
The complaint spans over 140 pages. It is accompanied by over 350 pages of exhibits.
Plaintiff names ten defendants. The allegations in the complaint concern unrelated events that
occurred at different times over a period of approximately ten years, beginning during a criminal
investigation and apparently ending during collateral review proceedings. The complaint is not
only far too long, it is overly wordy, it is largely comprised of legally conclusory statements, and
it fails to allege exactly what each individual defendant did to violate plaintiff’s rights.
It is impermissible to bring multiple claims against multiple parties.1 Because plaintiff is
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, and because leave to amend should be freely given
when justice so requires, Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a), the Court will give plaintiff the opportunity to
submit an amended complaint. Plaintiff is instructed to select the transaction or occurrence he
wishes to pursue, and file an amended complaint limiting the facts and allegations to the
defendant(s) involved therein. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2). In the alternative, plaintiff may select
a single defendant and allege all of the claims he has against that defendant. See Fed.R.Civ.P.
Plaintiff is reminded that he is required to submit the amended complaint on a courtprovided form, and it must comply with Rules 8 and 10 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Rule 18(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states: AA 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
Rule 20(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows for joinder of defendants if Aany
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.@
In the “Caption” section of the form complaint, plaintiff shall set forth the name of the defendant
or defendants he wishes to sue. In the “Statement of Claim” section, plaintiff should begin by
typing or legibly printing the defendant’s name and title, and under that name and title, set forth
in separate numbered paragraphs the factual allegations supporting his claim(s) as to that
particular defendant as well as the right(s) that he claims that particular defendant violated. If
plaintiff is suing more than one defendant, he shall proceed in this manner with each one,
separately setting forth each individual name and under that name, in numbered paragraphs, the
allegations specific to that particular defendant and the right(s) that particular defendant
allegedly violated. It is insufficient to refer to several defendants and state that they violated his
federal rights. Instead, plaintiff must allege how each defendant is personally responsible for
violating his federal rights.
Plaintiff is cautioned that he must avoid using overly wordy language, and he must avoid
setting forth legal conclusions. Instead, plaintiff must set forth short and plain statements
showing that he is entitled to relief. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The allegations must be simple,
concise, and direct, and the numbered paragraphs must each be limited to a single set of
circumstances related to the transaction or occurrence of which plaintiff is complaining. Because
the Court is allowing plaintiff to file an amended complaint, it will take no action as to any
named defendant at this time.
If plaintiff wishes to pursue additional claims against additional defendants, and the
claims do not arise from the same transaction or occurrence he has chosen to advance, he
must file each separate claim(s) on a separate complaint form in a separate civil action, and
either pay the statutory filing fee or file a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis in
such separate civil action.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis (Docket No. 2) is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff must pay an initial filing fee of $14.41
within twenty-one (21) 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) the statement that the remittance
is for an original proceeding.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff shall submit an amended complaint in
accordance with the instructions herein no later than twenty-one (21) days from the date of this
Memorandum and Order.
Plaintiff is cautioned that his failure to timely comply shall result in the dismissal of
this action without prejudice and without further notice.
Dated this 22nd day of February, 2017.
/s/ John M. Bodenhausen
JOHN M. BODENHAUSEN
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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