United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
JIHAD A. SPANN-EL, SR., Plaintiff,
FRANCIS G. SLAY, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon initial review pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Plaintiff Jihad A. Spann-El, Sr.,
an inmate at the St. Louis City Justice Center, commenced
this civil action on September 26, 2016, but he neither paid
the required filing fee nor moved for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis. On September 29, 2016, the Court ordered
him to do either. On October 12, 2016, upon plaintiffs
motion, he was granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis, and the Court conducted initial review of the
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The Court
noted that the complaint was vague and conclusory and
generally failed to comply with Rules 8 and 10 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, and gave plaintiff the opportunity
to file an amended complaint to cure the deficiencies.
Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on October 31, 2016, and
then filed a second amended complaint on November 7, 2016.
Upon review, the Court noted that the second amended
complaint contained the same defects as the first, and gave
plaintiff leave to file a third amended complaint. On January
20, 2017, plaintiff filed a third amended complaint (Docket
No. 16) which the Court now reviews pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
Standard on Initial Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), 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 under
§ 1983, 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,
inter alia, draw upon judicial experience and common
sense. Id. at 679.
reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2), the
Court must give it the benefit of a liberal construction.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However,
this does not mean that pro se complaints may be
merely conclusory. Even pro se complaints are
required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim for
relief as a matter of law. Martin v. Aubuchon, 623
F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980); see also Stone v.
Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004) (federal
courts are not required to "assume facts that are not
alleged, just because an additional factual allegation would
have formed a stronger complaint"). In addition,
affording a pro se complaint the benefit of a
liberal construction does not mean that procedural rules in
ordinary civil litigation must be interpreted so as to excuse
mistakes by those who proceed without counsel. See McNeil
v. U.S., 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).
Third Amended Complaint
third amended complaint, plaintiff names only one defendant,
the St. Louis City Justice Center (also "Justice
Center"). Plaintiff alleges that Justice Center
employees "found it proper to place" a certain
fellow inmate in the same housing unit as him, and that he
self-declared himself to have protective custody, but Justice
Center employee coerced him into signing off. (Docket No. 16
at 6). Plaintiff also alleges that the Justice Center
wrongfully allowed his "enemy registered-co-defendant to
be locked in Tank 2703-B." Id. Plaintiff also
alleges that two of his enemies were allowed to reside in his
cell, that he was placed in a cell with a certain inmate, and
that another inmate was permitted to attend religious
services with him. Plaintiff also states that the district
attorney's office issued a warrant for his arrest and
that he complained to caseworkers, but nothing was done.
Plaintiff does not allege that he suffered any harm, physical
or otherwise, as a result of any of the foregoing. For
relief, plaintiff states that he wants the Court "to
settle the conflict and order the St. Louis City Justice
Center to pay for my attorney fees in my civil suit as well
as my attorney fees in my criminal case." Id.
third amended complaint will be dismissed. Plaintiffs claims
against the Justice Center are legally frivolous because the
Justice Center is not a "juridical, " or suable,
entity under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Ketchum v. City of
West Memphis, Ark, 974 F.2d 81, 82 (8th Cir. 1992)
(departments or subdivisions of local government are
"not juridical entities suable as such"); see
also Ballard v. Missouri, No. 4:13CV528 JAR, 2013 WL
1720966, at *3 (E.D. Mo. April 22, 2013) (dismissing as
legally frivolous claims against several departments of local
government, including the St. Louis City Justice Center,
noting that they were not suable entities); Wallace v.
St. Louis City Justice Ctr., No. 4:12CV2291 JAR, 2013 WL
3773971, at *2 (E.D. Mo. July 17, 2013) (dismissing claims
against the St. Louis City Justice Center because it is not a
third amendment complaint is also subject to dismissal
because it fails to state any claims of constitutional
dimension. While plaintiff does not identify the
constitutional right he believes defendant violated,
liberally construing the third amended complaint, it appears
he attempts to state claims of failure to protect in
violation of the Eighth Amendment. An Eighth Amendment
failure to protect claim has two components: (1) an
objectively serious deprivation; and (2) a subjectively
culpable state of mind. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 834 (1994). Absent allegations of both components, no
constitutional violation exists. See Prater v. Dahm,
89 F.3d 538, 541 (8th Cir. 1996). Here, the facts outlined in
the third amended complaint do not amount to an objectively
serious deprivation. Plaintiff has not alleged that he was
injured at the hands of another. There are no facts alleged
allowing the conclusion that he was put in any position that
posed a substantial risk of serious harm. Plaintiffs
allegations do not state a failure to protect claim; rather,
plaintiff appears to seek the ability to choose his
cellmates. The Constitution does not provide such a right.
Ochs v. Thalacker, 90 F.3d 293, 296 (8th Cir. 1996),
Lyon v. Farrier, 727 F.2d 766, 768 (8th Cir. 1984).
The Court concludes that the third amended complaint fails to
state a claim of a constitutional violation. See Smith v.
Copeland, 87 F.3d 265, 268 (8th Cir. 1996) (affirming
the dismissal of a § 1983 claim for damages where the
prisoner failed to allege that he suffered any physical
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this cause of action is DISMISSED.
A separate order of dismissal will be entered herewith.
HEREBY CERTIFIED that an appeal from this action would not be
taken in good ...