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Woods v. Hampton

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

February 3, 2017

JORDAN ARMAND WOODS, Plaintiff,
v.
K. HAMPTON, 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 $1.50, which is twenty percent of his average monthly deposit. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b). Additionally, the Court will require Plaintiff to submit an amended complaint.

         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.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff brings this action against mail room and classification staff at the Southeast Correctional Center (“SECC”). He says SECC “officials” withheld mail from inmates, including religious texts and letters from family members.

         “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 Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009) (“Because vicarious liability is inapplicable to Bivens and § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official's own individual actions, has violated the Constitution.”). In this case, there are no factual allegations showing that any of the named Defendants were directly responsible for denying Plaintiff access to his mail. Therefore, the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         Additionally, the complaint does not state whether defendants are being sued in their official or individual capacities. Where a “complaint is silent about the capacity in which [plaintiff] is suing defendant, [a district court must] interpret the complaint as including only official-capacity claims.” Egerdahl v. Hibbing Community College, 72 F.3d 615, 619 (8th Cir. 1995); Nix v. Norman, 879 F.2d 429, 431 (8th Cir. 1989). Naming a government official in his or her official capacity is the equivalent of naming the government entity that employs the official, in this case the State of Missouri. Willv.MichiganDep=tofStatePolice, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). “[N]either a State nor its officials acting in their official capacity are ‘persons' under § 1983.” Id. So, the complaint fails to state a claim for this reason as well.

         Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court will allow him to file an amended complaint. Plaintiff is warned that the filing of an amended complaint replaces the original complaint, and so he must include each and every one of his claims in the amended complaint. 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 that are not included in the amended complaint will be considered abandoned. Id. Plaintiff must allege how each and every Defendant is directly responsible for the alleged harm. In order to sue Defendants in their individual capacities, Plaintiff must specifically say so in the complaint. If Plaintiff fails to sue Defendants in their individual capacities, this action may be subject to dismissal.

         Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [ECF No. 2] is GRANTED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff must pay an initial filing fee of $1.50 within twenty-one (21) days of 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.[1]

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk is directed to send Plaintiff a prisoner civil rights complaint form.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, no later than twenty-one (21) days from the date of this Order, Plaintiff ...


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