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Drummer v. City of St. Louis

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

October 19, 2016

LAWRENCE DRUMMER, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF ST. LOUIS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          AUDREY G. FLEISSIG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, a prisoner, seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Having reviewed plaintiff's financial information, the Court assesses a partial initial filing fee of $18, which is twenty percent of his average monthly deposit. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b). Additionally, this action is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).

         Standard of Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), 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, 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 draw on its judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.

         When reviewing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court accepts the well-pled facts as true. Furthermore, the Court liberally construes the allegations.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff is an inmate at the St. Louis Medium Security Institution (“MSI”). He sues the City of St. Louis, Corizon, Inc., the City of St. Louis Division of Corrections, OSHA, and Mayor Francis G. Slay.

         Plaintiff alleges that MSI is overcrowded, the ventilation is inadequate, the building is condemned, there are vermin, there is black mold, the building does not comply with fire and safety regulations, and the building is not adequately maintained. He says that OSHA has not properly monitored the safety of the institution. He claims that other inmates have been affected by the conditions.[1]

         Discussion

         To state a claim against the City of St. Louis or Corizon, a plaintiff must allege that a policy or custom of the government entity is responsible for the alleged constitutional violation. Monell v. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978).

A governmental policy involves a deliberate choice to follow a course of action made from among various alternatives by an official who has the final authority to establish governmental policy. A governmental custom involves a pattern of persistent and widespread practices which become so permanent and well settled as to have the effect and force of law.

Brockington v. City of Sherwood, Ark., 503 F.3d 667, 674 (8th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A plaintiff's failure to include any allegations, reference, or language from which one could begin to draw an inference that the conduct complained of resulted from an unconstitutional policy or custom of the governmental entity renders the complaint deficient as to that entity. Crumpley-Patterson v. Trinity Lutheran Hosp., 388 F.3d 588, 591 (8th Cir. 2004).

         With respect to Corizon, a healthcare provider, Plaintiff has not included any allegations from which it could be inferred that the alleged poor conditions of MSI are connected in any way to Corizon. With respect to the City of St. Louis, Plaintiff has not pled sufficient facts to infer that the poor conditions resulted from the deliberate choices of City officials with policy-making authority or that the poor conditions were so continuing, widespread, and persistent as to have become a permanent custom of the City. As a result, Plaintiff's claims against Corizon and the City of St. Louis must be dismissed.

         Plaintiff's claim against the City of St. Louis Division of Corrections is legally frivolous because it cannot be sued. Ketchum v. City of West Memphis, Ark., 974 F.2d 81, 82 (8th Cir. 1992) (departments or subdivisions of local ...


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