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Douglas v. St. Francois County Jail

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

December 10, 2014

ST. FRANCOIS COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants.


RONNIE L. WHITE, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff (registration no.139740), an inmate at St. Francis County Jail, 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 $3.27. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Furthermore, based upon a review of the complaint, the Court finds that the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

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 $16.33, and an average monthly balance of $1.50. Plaintiff has insufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee. Accordingly, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $3.27.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must 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 from a defendant who is immune from such relief. An action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989); Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). An action is malicious if it is undertaken for the purpose of harassing the named defendants and not for the purpose of vindicating a cognizable right. Spencer v. Rhodes, 656 F.Supp. 458, 461-63 (E.D. N.C. 1987), aff'd 826 F.2d 1059 (4th Cir. 1987). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

To determine whether an action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must engage in a two-step inquiry. First, the Court must identify the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950-51 (2009). These include "legal conclusions" and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements." Id. at 1949. Second, the Court must determine whether the complaint states a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 1950-51. This is a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 1950. The plaintiff is required to plead facts that show more than the "mere possibility of misconduct." Id. The Court must review the factual allegations in the complaint "to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief." Id. at 1951. When faced with alternative explanations for the alleged misconduct, the Court may exercise its judgment in determining whether plaintiff's proffered conclusion is the most plausible or whether it is more likely that no misconduct occurred. Id. at 1950, 1951-52.

The Complaint

Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his civil rights. Named as defendants are: St. Francois County Jail; Dan Bullock (Sheriff, St. Francis County); Dennis Smith (Jail Administrator); Hardy White (Corporal, Asst. Jail Administrator); Matthew Richard Ecke (Correctional Officer); Steve Robinson; Bethany Zarcoon; Gary Branham; Frank Vogenpole; Zerrick Hahn; Scott Halleck; Tammy Romine; and Lynn Gershenslager.

Plaintiff complains about the conditions of confinement at the St. Francis County Jail, asserting that there is overcrowding in the cells, black mold on the walls and ceilings of the cells and that the inmates are served unsanitary food. Plaintiff also alleges that inmates are given a small clothing allowance due to the overstrength population at the Jail, and that he has not been provided with the correct law books to assist him in his criminal action. Plaintiff states that due to the overcrowding, inmates have inadequate outside recreation.

Plaintiff complains in a conclusory manner that the food portions are "under 2000 calories per day. Plaintiff also asserts in a conclusory manner that he has generalized anxiety and does not have his "mental health medications." However, plaintiff has not stated whether he has asked for mental health treatment and if such treatment was denied. Additionally, plaintiff has failed to identify any particular defendant related to his mental health "needs."

Plaintiff states that on two separate days during his incarceration at the Jail he has been told that he is only allowed to correspond with his attorney, "the court house" or with the child support authorities. Plaintiff does not state whether he was allowed on the other days to send postcards or other correspondence to family members, or if all mail to outsiders has been curtailed.

Plaintiff complains that he has been told by other inmates that he will eventually be charged by the County for "room and board"; however, plaintiff fails to allege how such a practice would violate his constitutional rights. Plaintiff also complains that the canteen goods cost more than food outside the prison, and he asserts that inmates must buy "hygiene" kits from the canteen, or ask for an indigent kit. Plaintiff complains that inmates are only allowed a ...

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