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Mayer v. Unknown Chambers

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

October 1, 2014

MICHAEL MAYER, Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN CHAMBERS, et al., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JEAN C. HAMILTON, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon the motion of Michael Mayer (registration no. 514144), an inmate at Southeast Correctional Center, for leave to commence this action without payment of the required filing fee. For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that plaintiff does not have sufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee and will assess an initial partial filing fee of $2.00. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Furthermore, after reviewing the complaint, the Court will order the Clerk to issue process or cause process to be issued on the 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 six-month 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, until the filing fee is fully paid. Id.

Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit and a certified copy of his prison account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the submission of his complaint. A review of plaintiff's account indicates an average monthly deposit of $11, and an average monthly balance of $3. Plaintiff has insufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee. Accordingly, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $2, which is 20 percent of plaintiff's average monthly deposit.

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 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 "it 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 "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (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, 32-33 (1992); Scheuer v. Rhodes , 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

The Complaint

Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that on August 2, 2010, defendant Unknown Chambers, a police officer for Jefferson County, hit and kicked him during an arrest while he was restrained. Plaintiff alleges that unknown officers in the Jefferson County Jail put him in a strip cell without his clothing, his medications, or a mattress for a week. Plaintiff asserts that, as a result of the beating and subsequent treatment in jail, he received several injuries for which he required medical treatment.

Discussion

The allegations in the complaint state a plausible claim for relief against Unknown Chambers for violations of plaintiff's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. As a result, the Court will direct the Clerk to attempt to serve process on Unknown Chambers.

The remaining defendants are John Does. In general, fictitious parties may not be named as defendants in a civil action. Phelps v. United States , 15 F.3d 735, 739 (8th Cir. 1994). An action may proceed against a party whose name is unknown, however, if the complaint makes sufficiently specific allegations to permit the identity of the party to be ascertained after reasonable discovery. Munz v. Parr , 758 F.2d 1254, 1257 (8th Cir. 1985). The John Doe defendants in this action are unspecified and are of an unknown number. This is insufficient to state a claim against these defendants, and the Court will dismiss them without prejudice to renaming at a later date.

Accordingly,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [ECF No. 2] is GRANTED.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff shall pay an initial filing fee of $2.00 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 if plaintiff fails to pay the initial partial filing fee within thirty (30) days of the date of this Order, then this case will be dismissed without prejudice.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk shall attempt issue process or cause process to issue upon the complaint as to defendant Unknown Chambers, an officer with the Jefferson County Police Department.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(2), defendant Unknown Chambers shall reply to plaintiff's claims within the time provided by the applicable provisions of Rule 12(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendants "John Doe Officers, " "Jefferson County Police Officers, " and "Jailers, " are DISMISSED from this action without prejudice.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this case is assigned to Track 5B: Prisoner Standard.


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