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Masek v. Chastiain

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

March 7, 2017

MICHAEL MASEK, Plaintiff,
v.
ANTONIA CHASTAIN, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The motion is granted.

         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.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff is civilly detained in the Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center in Farmington, Missouri (“SMMHC”). He was formerly detained in the St. Louis Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center (“SLPRC”). At the time relevant to the complaint, defendants Antonia Chastain, Blake Schneider, Lisa Ellis, and Felix Vincenz worked at SLPRC, while defendant Praveen Nimmagadda worked at SMMHC. Plaintiff has been detained in Missouri Department of Health facilities for the past twenty-six years.

         In June 2016, plaintiff and a female detainee were caught trading pornographic photos of each other. Plaintiff maintains that he was trying to help her because she suffered sexual abuse. He devotes several pages of the complaint to describing how other detainees emotionally abused her because she was not highly functioning.

         Because of this incident, plaintiff was strip searched, forced to wear paper scrubs for three days, and put in a more restrictive housing unit. He was confined in the unit for thirty-five days. He claims Chastain did not allow him to make telephone calls to his family or to have a Bible during that time.

         On July 20, 2016, Schneider told plaintiff he was going to be transferred to SMMHC. Plaintiff told Schneider he would rather stay in the restrictive housing unit.

         Upon his transfer, Schneider and Chastain retained some of plaintiff's hard drives and an e-reader. He says the materials have a monetary value of nearly ten thousand dollars. He also lost five years' worth of research pertaining to his last name as it appeared in some versions of the Bible but not others, which was contained on the hard drives.

         Plaintiff claims he wanted to file a police report when his friend took most of his belongings. He says someone on staff denied the request, but he does not say it was one of the named defendants. He also fears he will suffer future retaliation.

         Finally, plaintiff claims he was given harsher punishment than a sex offender who sexually assaulted a fellow committee.

         Discussion

         The majority of the allegations are trivial and do not rise to the level of a constitutional violation. However, the Court finds that plaintiff's claims against Chastain for denial of telephone calls and of religious materials state a plausible claim under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. As a ...


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