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Gassel v. Jones

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

October 26, 2016

CHRISTOPHER GASSEL, Plaintiff,
v.
PAUL JONES, MD, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOHN A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on plaintiffs motion for leave to commence this action without payment of the required filing fee. The motion will be granted, and plaintiff will be assessed an initial partial filing fee of $1.00. See 28 U.S.C. §1915.[1] Furthermore, based upon a review of the complaint, the Court finds that because plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court will allow plaintiff to file an amended complaint on the Court's form. Plaintiff has thirty (30) days from the date of this Order to file an amended complaint in accordance with the specific instructions set forth here.

         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, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (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).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff, an inmate at the Western Missouri Correctional Center ("WMCC") in Cameron, Missouri, seeks monetary relief in this action for the violation of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. It appears that plaintiffs allegations arise out of his incarceration at the Moberly Correctional Center in 2014.[2] Named as defendants are Paul Jones, M.D. (Corizon Medical Services, Medical Director) and Corizon Medical Services ("Corizon").

         Plaintiff alleges in a conclusory fashion that Dr. Jones violated his Eighth Amendment rights to be provided adequate medical care. However, plaintiff has failed to allege exactly when and where defendant Jones failed to provide him proper care. Plaintiff has only alleged in a general fashion that defendant failed to treat him when his injuries were "so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention." Plaintiff has also complained, in a conclusory fashion, that Dr. Jones left him with physical disfigurement. However, he has failed to state exactly how Dr. Jones left him in such a state, and whether the disfigurement was a result of Dr. Jones' failure to treat plaintiff or as a result of an unexplained or undiagnosed medical illness.

         Discussion

         Having carefully reviewed the complaint, the Court concludes that dismissal is warranted under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). First, as stated above, plaintiff has failed to make personal allegations against Dr. Jones in his complaint.

         "Liability under § 1983 requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the alleged deprivation of rights." Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th Cir. 1990); see also 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).

         In the instant action, plaintiff has not set forth any facts indicating that Dr. Jones injured him on a specific date by doing a specific act, or by omitting to engage in a specific act. As a result, the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         Additionally, as currently pled, the complaint also fails to state a claim against defendants due to the way in which plaintiff has alleged his claims against defendants in their official capacity.

         Plaintiff brings this action against Dr. Paul Jones in his 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). To state a claim against a Corizon employee in his official capacity, a plaintiff must allege that a policy or custom of his employer is responsible for the alleged constitutional violation. See Monell v. Dept of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). The instant complaint does not contain any allegations that a policy or custom of Corizon was responsible for the alleged violations of plaintiffs constitutional rights. As a result, the complaint is legally frivolous and fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted as to both defendants Paul Jones and Corizon.

         Because plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court will allow plaintiff to amend his complaint rather than dismiss the complaint at this time. Plaintiff is warned that the filing of an amended complaint replaces the original complaint and all previously-filed pleadings, so plaintiff must include each and every one of the claims he wishes to pursue in the amended complaint. See, e.g., In re Wireless Telephone Federal Cost Recovery Fees Litigation,396 F.3d 922, 928 (8th Cir. 2005). Any claims from the original complaint, supplements, and/or pleadings that are not included in the amended complaint will be deemed abandoned and will not be considered. Id. The allegations in the complaint must show how each and every defendant is directly responsible for the alleged harms. If plaintiff wishes to sue ...


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