Adams v. City of St. Louis et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. # 3 ] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Court will not assess a filing fee at this time. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Cle rk is directed to mail to plaintiff a copy of the Court's prisoner civil rights complaint form. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff must file an amended complaint within twenty-one (21) days from the date of this Order. Plaintiff's failur e to timely comply with this order will result in this dismissal of this case without prejudice and without further notice. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel [Doc. # 2 ] is DENIED at this time. Signed by District Judge Catherine D. Perry on 1/10/18. (EAB) (Copy of Order and form sent to plaintiff on 1/10/18).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
CITY OF ST. LOUIS et al,
No. 4:18-CV-0040 CDP
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Marlon Adams, who is currently
incarcerated in St. Charles County Department of Corrections, for leave to commence this civil
action without prepayment of the required filing fee. Having reviewed plaintiff’s information
regarding his prison financial information, the Court will not assess a filing fee at this time.
However, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will direct plaintiff to file an amended
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 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 plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis, plaintiff has submitted a
declaration asserting that the correctional facility has refused to provide him with a prison
account statement. Plaintiff states, however, that his current account balance is $0.
Consequently, the Court will not assess an initial partial filing fee at this time.
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.
Pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
(1976). However, they still must allege sufficient facts to support the claims alleged. Stone v.
Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004); see also Martin v. Aubuchon, 623 F.2d 1282, 1286
(8th Cir. 1980) (even pro se complaints are required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim
for relief as a matter of law). Federal courts are not required to “assume facts that are not
alleged, just because an additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger complaint.”
Stone, 364 F.3d at 914-15. In addition, giving 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 is a pretrial detainee at St. Charles County Correctional Center. He brings this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his civil rights. The complaint
contains a long narrative in which plaintiff describes various things he believes violated the law
during his time of incarceration at the St. Louis Medium Security Institution (“MSI”) during
March through August 2017. He has named twelve individual litigants as defendants in this
action, as well as the City of St. Louis. The defendants are named in both their individual and
Plaintiff claims, for example, that MSI was replete with hazardous conditions of
confinement. He claims there was “black mold” throughout the jail, feces and lead in the water
supply, grime on the walls, “rats, roaches and snakes” infesting the facility, lack of cleanliness in
the cells and showers, poor sanitation, low water pressure and extreme temperatures in the
cellblocks. Plaintiff additionally asserts that inmates at MSI were subjected to “fight clubs” by
the correctional officers and staff at the prison, and they were disciplined by having food
withheld from them if they refused to participate. Last, plaintiff alleges that he was not given an
allowance of clothing or proper hygiene items, nor was he given proper recreation during his
time at MSI.
Plaintiff’s allegations are serious and if properly pleaded would be sufficient in order to
pass through § 1915 review. However, as his complaint now stands, plaintiff’s complaint lists
conclusory allegations in one paragraph and then lists names of defendants in the next paragraph,
stating in conclusory terms that those defendants violated his rights. Section 1915 review
requires more than such illusory pleading practices.
“Liability under § 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.”). Here, plaintiff has not adequately alleged facts showing
how each defendant was directly involved in or personally responsible for the alleged violations
of his constitutional rights.
The complaint also fails to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
which requires, in relevant part, that a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Here, the complaint
contains a long narrative instead of a short and plain statement of plaintiff’s claims.
Because plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court will give him an opportunity to file an
amended complaint. Plaintiff should type, or neatly print, the amended complaint, and should
use a court-provided form. Plaintiff should select the claim(s) he wishes to pursue, and limit the
factual allegations to only the defendant(s) who were actually involved. If plaintiff names more
than one defendant, he must only assert claims that are related to each other. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
20(a)(2). In the alternative, plaintiff may name one single defendant and bring as many claims as
he has against him or her. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 18(a). Plaintiff must specify whether he intends to
sue each defendant in an official capacity, individual capacity, or both.1
In the “Caption” section of the form complaint, plaintiff should write the name of the
defendant(s) he wishes to sue. In the “Statement of Claim” section, plaintiff should begin by
writing the defendant’s name. In separate, numbered paragraphs under that name, plaintiff
should write a short and plain statement of the factual allegations supporting his claim against
that defendant. If plaintiff is suing more than one defendant, he should do the same thing for
each one, separately writing each defendant’s name and, under that name, a short and plain
statement of the factual allegations supporting his claim against that defendant.
It is not
sufficient to list a group of defendants and say they violated his rights. Instead, plaintiff must
allege facts showing how each defendant is directly responsible for the alleged harm. The
allegations must be simple, concise and direct, and the numbered paragraphs must each be
limited to a single set of circumstances.
After receiving the amended complaint, the Court will review it pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915. Plaintiff’s failure to make specific factual allegations against a defendant will result in the
dismissal of that defendant. If plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint on a Court-provided
form within twenty-one days in accordance with the instructions set forth herein, the Court will
dismiss this action without prejudice and without further notice to plaintiff.
Additionally, as plaintiff is no longer housed at MSI and he seems reasonably able to
assert his own interests in this matter, the Court will decline to appoint him counsel at this time.
The failure to sue a defendant in his or her individual capacity may result in the dismissal of that
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis [Doc. #3] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Court will not assess a filing fee at this time.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk is directed to mail to plaintiff a copy of the
Court’s prisoner civil rights complaint form.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff must file an amended complaint within
twenty-one (21) days from the date of this Order.
Plaintiff’s failure to timely comply with this order will result in this dismissal of this
case without prejudice and without further notice.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion for appointment of counsel [Doc.
#2] is DENIED at this time.
Dated this 10th day of January, 2018.
CATHERINE D. PERRY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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