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George v. Dunklin County Jail

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

February 7, 2017

BRIAN K. GEORGE, Plaintiff,
v.
DUNKLIN COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CHARLES A. SHAW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Brian K. George for leave to commence this action without prepayment of the filing fee. The motion will be granted, and plaintiff will be given the opportunity to file an amended complaint.

         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 or her 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. 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 his account. 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 $10.00, until the filing fee is fully paid. Id.

         In support of the instant motion, plaintiff submitted an affidavit and an inmate account statement showing an average monthly balance of $186.29. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $37.26, twenty percent of plaintiff's average monthly balance.

         Legal Standard on Initial Review

         Under 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.

         When 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).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the following eight defendants: the Dunklin County Jail, Bob Holder, the Dunklin County Parole Office, the Dunklin County Court, the Bonne Terre Prison, Todd Welch, Darren Todd, and Unknown Parker. Much of the complaint is illegible, but based upon the discernible portions, it appears plaintiff alleges as follows: In 2008, a group of defendants obscured surveillance cameras with fiber optic camouflage as depicted on a YouTube video, and sprayed mace under plaintiff's cell door. Plaintiff also alleges that surveillance cameras from 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2015 will show how “this dept.” obscures cameras to allow people to come into the jail. Plaintiff also alleges that in August through December of 2014, “they” destroyed his home, and intimidated and threatened him into taking plea bargains. Plaintiff claims that he was wrongfully incarcerated due to improper proceedings, that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and was prosecuted illegally in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014 and possibly 2016. The complaint continues in this manner, making references to (among other things) stalking, elder abuse, assault, stolen property, acts of terrorism, attempted murder, the placement of human waste into plaintiff's food and drink, contaminated bed sheets, and sexual abuse.

         Discussion

         The complaint is defective for several reasons. Much of it is illegible, plaintiff failed to specify the capacity in which he intends to sue the defendants, and he failed to allege the personal responsibility of each defendant. In addition, plaintiff presents a case involving multiple unrelated claims against eight defendants. Rule 20(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs joinder of defendants, and states as follows:

Persons . . . may be joined in one action as defendants if: (A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and (B) any ...

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