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Reed v. Corizon Health, Inc.

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

March 27, 2015

JOHN W. REED, Plaintiff,
v.
CORIZON HEALTH, INC., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon the motion of John W. Reed (registration no. 31318) for leave to commence this action without payment of the required filing fee. For the reasons stated below, the Court will assess plaintiff an initial partial filing fee of $6.64. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Furthermore, based upon a review of the complaint, the Court finds that this action 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 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). 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. See 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), (2). A review of plaintiff's account statement indicates an average monthly deposit of $33.22, and an average monthly account balance of $2.72. Plaintiff has insufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee. Accordingly, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $6.64, 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 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). 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). 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, 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 conclusion is the most plausible or whether it is more likely that no misconduct occurred. Id. at 1950, 51-52.

Moreover, 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 (1992).

The Complaint

Plaintiff, an inmate at the St. Louis City Justice Center ("SLCJC"), seeks monetary relief in this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against defendants Corizon Health, Inc., and Nurse Arrip. Plaintiff alleges, "Nurse gave me the wrong psychiatric medication which caused severe stomach pain and keep food on my stomach. I am nauseated several times a week." In addition, plaintiff claims that "nurse will try to give [him] medication that belongs to other inmates."

Discussion

Plaintiff brings this action against the Nurse Arrip in his or her official capacity. See Egerdahl v. Hibbing Community College, 72 F.3d 615, 619 (8th Cir. 1995) (where a complaint is silent about defendant's capacity, Court must interpret the complaint as including official-capacity claims); Nix v. Norman, 879 F.2d 429, 431 (8th Cir. 1989). Official-capacity suits are tantamount to suits brought directly against the public entity of which the official is an agent. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985). To state a claim against a public entity or a government official in his or her official capacity, a plaintiff must allege that a policy or custom of the public entity was responsible for the alleged constitutional violation. Brandon v. Holt, 469 U.S. 464, 473 (1985); Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). Because plaintiff does not claim that a public entity's policy or custom was responsible for the alleged constitutional violations, the complaint fails to state a claim or cause of action under § 1983 against Nurse Arrip.

The complaint also fails to state a claim and is legally frivolous as to defendant Corizon Health, Inc., because plaintiff has failed to assert any allegations against this corporate defendant. See Sanders v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 984 F.2d 972, 975-76 (8th Cir. 1993) (to state a claim against private corporation acting under color of state law, plaintiff must allege existence of policy, custom, or official action that caused actionable injury; corporation will be held liable only for its own unconstitutional policies); Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1338 (8th Cir. 1985) (claim not cognizable under § 1983 where plaintiff fails to allege defendant was personally involved in or directly responsible for incidents that injured plaintiff); Boyd v. Knox, 47 F.3d 966, 968 (8th Cir. 1995) (respondeat superior theory inapplicable in § 1983 suits).

As additional grounds for dismissing this action, the Court finds that plaintiff's allegations do not rise to the level of constitutional violations and are mere conclusory statements that will not be given an assumption of truth. See Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950-51. To state a claim for unconstitutional medical mistreatment, a plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to indicate deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Camberos v. Branstad, 73 F.3d 174, 175 (8th Cir. 1995). To show deliberate indifference, a plaintiff must allege that he suffered objectively serious medical needs and that defendants actually knew of but disregarded those needs. Dulany v. Carnahan, 132 F.3d 1234, 1239 (8th Cir. 1997). Furthermore, to state a claim of deliberate indifference, "the prisoner must show more than negligence, more even than gross negligence, and mere disagreement with treatment decisions does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation." Estate of Rosenberg v. Crandell, 56 F.3d 35, 37 (8th Cir. 1995). Medical malpractice alone is not actionable under the Eighth Amendment. Smith v. Clarke, 458 F.3d 720, 724 (8th Cir. 2006). Plaintiff's claims fail to state an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference or medical-mistreatment claim.

For these reasons, the Court will dismiss this action as legally frivolous and for failure to state a claim or cause of action, pursuant to §1915(e)(2)(B).

Accordingly,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. #2] is GRANTED.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff shall pay an initial partial filing fee of $6.64 within thirty (30) days from 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 the Clerk shall not issue process or cause process to issue upon the complaint, because the allegations are legally frivolous and fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

A separate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order.


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