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Woods v. Wallace

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

February 22, 2017

JORDAN ARMAND WOODS, Plaintiff,
v.
IAN WALLACE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CAROL E. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff Jordan Armand Woods, an inmate at Southeast Correctional Center (“SECC”), for leave to commence this action without prepayment of the filing fee. Having reviewed Plaintiff's financial information, the Court assesses a partial initial filing fee of $6.88. In addition, the Court will require Plaintiff to submit 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 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.

         Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit and a certified copy of his prison account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the submission of his complaint. A review of plaintiff's account indicates an average monthly deposit of $34.38, and an average monthly balance of $5.06. Plaintiff has insufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee. Accordingly, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $6.88, which is 20 percent of plaintiff's average monthly deposit.

         28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)

         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 conducting initial review pursuant to § 1915(e)(2), the Court must give the complaint 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).

         Discussion

         While much of the complaint is illegible, it is clear that plaintiff has named five defendants in this action. Also, it appears plaintiff attempts to allege multiple constitutional violations occurring on various dates in 2013 and 2014, relating to transfers from various prisons within the Missouri Department of Corrections. The Court has been able to discern, for example, that plaintiff is referring to his time in MECC, SECC and NECC. Plaintiff also refers to time spent in “Pacific, Missouri. A civil plaintiff may not bring multiple claims against multiple parties, nor can he bring claims in the same lawsuit relating to transactions or occurrences that arose in different places.[1]

         In addition to the aforementioned, it appears that plaintiff simply lists the defendants' names in the “Statement of Claim” portion of the complaint without specifying what each defendant personally did to violate his constitutional rights. “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.”).

         Finally, plaintiff fails to specify the capacity in which he intends to sue the defendants. 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).

         Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court will allow him to file an amended complaint. In so doing, plaintiff should select the transaction or occurrence he wishes to pursue, in accordance with Rules 18 and 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and file an amended complaint, limiting his facts and allegations to those claims that arise out of the same transaction or occurrence, or simply put, claims that are related to each other. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2). If plaintiff wants to bring additional claims against additional defendants, and the claims are not related to each other, he must file each such claim(s) on a separate complaint form as a new civil case, and either pay the entire filing fee or move for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Alternatively, plaintiff may choose to select one defendant and set forth as many claims as he has against that single defendant. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a).

         Plaintiff is required to specify whether he intends to sue each defendant in his or her individual or official capacity. Plaintiff's failure to sue any defendant in his or her ...


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