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Wilson v. Bullock

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

December 19, 2014

JOSEPH T. WILSON, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
DAN BULLOCK, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

CATHERINE D. PERRY, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff (registration no. 77444), 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 $16.54. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, the Court will require plaintiff 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 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 $86.28, and an average monthly balance of $17.53. Plaintiff has insufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee. Accordingly, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $16.54.

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 Dan Bullock (Sheriff, St. Francis County); Dennis Smith (Sergeant); and Hardy White (Corporal).

Plaintiff alleges that, pursuant to the Jail's mail policy, inmates are forced to use postcards, as opposed to closed letters for all outgoing and incoming correspondence. Further, plaintiff complains about the conditions of confinement at the Jail, asserting that there is overcrowding in the cells, there are unsanitary conditions in the jail, prisoners are not given personal hygiene items, and the inmates are served unsanitary food.

In his request for relief, plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and attorneys' fees.

Discussion

Plaintiff's complaint is largely devoid of specific factual allegations against specific defendants. Instead, he has made generalized claims about the Jail's mail policy. Plaintiff does not allege a single instance of being personally affected by the purported Jail mail policy. Instead, he alleges that another inmate was not permitted to send a closed letter that inmate attempted to send. Plaintiff cannot bring the claims of other inmates before this Court. Plaintiff is not an attorney and is not authorized to assert constitutional claims on behalf of the inmates who ...


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