Richter v. St. Louis City Jail et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER (See Full Order) IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Docket No. #3 ) is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff shall pay an initial filing fee of $1.08 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 proceeding. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff shall submit an amended complaint on a court-provided form no later than thirty (30) days from the date of this Memorandum and Order. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Court shall mail to plaintiff a copy of the Court's Prisoner Civil Rights Complaint form. Plaintiff's failure to timely comply with this Memorandum and Order may result in the dismissal of this action without prejudice and without further notice. Signed by District Judge Catherine D. Perry on 5/12/17. (EAB) (Copy of Order and form sent to plaintiff on 5/12/17) (EAB).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
JASON CHRISTOPHER RICHTER,
ST. LOUIS CITY JAIL, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon the motion of Jason Christopher Richter, an inmate
at Ozark Correctional Center, for leave to commence this action without prepayment of the
required filing fee. (Docket No. 3). For the reasons stated below, the will grant the motion and
assess an initial partial filing fee of $1.08. See 28 U.S.C. ' 1915(b)(1). In addition, the Court
will direct plaintiff to submit 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
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 his 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 an inmate account
statement showing an average monthly balance of $5.41. The Court will therefore assess an
initial partial filing fee of $1.08, twenty percent of plaintiff’s average monthly balance.
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.
When reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2), the Court must give it the benefit
of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, this does not
mean that pro se complaints may be merely conclusory. 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”). 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).
Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. ' 1983 against the St. Louis City Jail and the
MSI Workhouse. He seeks monetary relief as compensation for past harm. He alleges that,
while an inmate at MSI, he fell down a flight of stairs and broke his foot. He repeatedly asked
for medical treatment and was denied, and ultimately reset the bone in his foot himself. He was
told he had to walk to the medical department, despite his statements that walking was too
painful. He laid on the floor in peaceful protest and was threatened, but later underwent an x-ray
which was positive for fracture of the fifth metatarsal. Attached to the complaint is a copy of the
x-ray report. (Docket No. 1, Attch. 1, at 2).
Plaintiff alleges that he could not get proper treatment from the St. Louis City
Workhouse, that there was total disregard for his pain and suffering, and that he was placed in
segregation to prevent him from contacting his family about his situation. He alleges that he
“finally had to get a court order from my Judge.” (Docket No. 1 at 3). Attached to the complaint
is a copy of a July 1, 2016 Order entered in the Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit of Missouri,
signed by the Honorable Rex M. Burlison. (Docket No. 1, Attch. 1, at 1). Therein, Judge
Burlison ordered the sheriffs to take plaintiff to undergo a medical evaluation for his injuries, and
ordered that plaintiff receive proper treatment for his injuries before being remanded to the
custody of the Missouri Department of Corrections.1 (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that he was “sent to
E.R.D.C.C. instead of St. Louis City Corrections abiding by the court order.” (Docket No. 1 at
The only named defendants are the St. Louis City Jail and MSI Workhouse. However, a
department or subdivision of local government, like the St. Louis City Jail and MSI Workhouse,
cannot be sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Ketchum v. City of West Memphis, AR., 974 F.2d 81, 82
(8th Cir. 1992) (departments or subdivisions of local government are “not juridical entities
suable as such”). Therefore, plaintiff’s claims are legally frivolous and subject to dismissal. See
Ballard v. Missouri, No. 4:13CV528 JAR, 2013 WL 1720966, at *3 (E.D. Mo. April 22, 2013)
(holding that “[p]laintiff's claims against the City of St. Louis Department of Public Safety, the
St. Louis County Justice Center, the City of St. Louis Justice Center, and MSI/Workhouse are
legally frivolous because these defendants are not suable entities”). In addition, even if plaintiff
had named the City of St. Louis as a defendant, the complaint as pled would not state a claim of
municipal liability because plaintiff does not allege that the constitutional violations resulted
from an official municipal policy, an unofficial custom, or a deliberately indifferent failure to
train. Monell v. Dept. of Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978); City
of Canton, Ohio v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 388 (1989).
In consideration of plaintiff’s pro se status and the serious nature of his allegations, the
1 Examination of the records of the Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit of the State of Missouri confirm the entry and
content of this Order. See State v. Jason C. Richter, https://www.courts.mo.gov/casenet/cases/searchDockets.do,
Case Number 1522-CR00719-01 (July 1, 2016). This Court takes judicial notice of this public state record. See
Levy v. Ohl, 477 F.3d 988 (8th Cir. 2007) (district court may take judicial notice of public state records); Stutzka v.
McCarville, 420 F.3d 757, 760 n. 2 (8th Cir. 2005) (courts “may take judicial notice of judicial opinions and public
Court will allow him to file an amended complaint. In the amended complaint, plaintiff should
specify the name of the person(s), to the extent he knows it, who was personally responsible for
violating his constitutional rights. Plaintiff should understand that liability under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the alleged deprivation of rights.”
Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th Cir. 1990); see Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676 (“Because
vicarious liability is inapplicable to Bivens and § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each
Government-official defendant, through the official’s own individual actions, has violated the
Constitution”). Simply put, this means that plaintiff must allege facts that show how each
defendant was directly involved in or personally responsible for violating his constitutional
rights. Even so, the amended complaint must not be overly wordy, and it must not include
In the “Caption” section of the form complaint, plaintiff should write the name of the first
defendant he wishes to sue. In the “Statement of Claim” section, plaintiff should begin by
writing that first defendant’s name. In separate, numbered paragraphs under that name, plaintiff
should: (1) set forth a short and plain statement of the facts supporting his claim against that
defendant; and (2) state what constitutional or federal statutory right(s), to the extent he knows it,
that defendant violated. If plaintiff is suing more than one defendant, he should do the same
thing for each one.
Plaintiff must also specify whether he is suing each defendant in his or her individual
capacity, official capacity, or both. The failure to sue an individual defendant in his or her
individual capacity may result in the dismissal of that defendant from this case. In order to state
a claim against a government official in his official capacity, plaintiff must allege that a policy or
custom of his employer was responsible for the alleged constitutional violation. See Monell,
436 U.S. at 690-91.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis
(Docket No. 3) is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff shall pay an initial filing fee of $1.08
within thirty (30) days of the date of this Order. Plaintiff is instructed to make his remittance
payable to AClerk, 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 plaintiff shall submit an amended complaint on a
court-provided form no later than thirty (30) days from the date of this Memorandum and Order.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Court shall mail to plaintiff a copy of the Court’s
Prisoner Civil Rights Complaint form.
Plaintiff’s failure to timely comply with this Memorandum and Order may result in the
dismissal of this action without prejudice and without further notice.
Dated this 12th day of May, 2017.
CATHERINE D. PERTY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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