United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
LONNIE E. WOLFORD, Plaintiff,
ELLIS McSWAIN, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff
Lonnie E. Wolford, an inmate at Northeast Correctional
Center, for leave to commence this action without prepayment
of the filing fee. (Docket No. 2). The motion will be
granted, and Wolford’s complaint will be dismissed.
U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)
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 average monthly deposits or
the average monthly balance in the prisoner’s account
for the prior six-month period, whichever is greater. 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.
support of the instant motion, Wolford submitted a certified
account statement for the appropriate period showing an
average monthly deposit of $190.64. The Court will assess an
initial partial filing fee of $38.13, twenty percent of
Wolford’s average monthly deposit.
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.
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,
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging violation of his federal rights to due process and
equal protection. Named as defendants are numerous current
and former members of the Missouri Parole Board, and
Wolford’s former wife.
complaint, Wolford provides the following background. In
February of 1987, he was convicted of murder, assault, and
burglary for killing a man with whom his wife and children
were living, and stabbing another man. He was sentenced to
consecutive terms of 30 years, 15 years, and 8 years. From
1995 to 2016, he received a total of seven parole hearings,
but was denied parole each time. He alleges that his parole
file contains information that he had threatened the lives of
his former wife and her parents, and a report prepared by a
alleges that his due process rights were violated when
defendants wrongfully denied him parole for various reasons,
including considering the psychiatric report and the
information about the threats. Wolford also alleges that
defendants failed to notify him of adverse information in his
parole file, and made findings during parole hearings that
became part of his parole file. Wolford also challenges
aspects of the procedure employed during his parole hearings.
For his prayer for relief, Wolford seeks a declaratory
judgment that the defendants violated his federal rights and
his right to medical privacy, and that the Missouri Parole
Board’s practices are unconstitutional. Plaintiff also
asks the Court to compel the Missouri Parole Board to give
Missouri inmates “pre-hearing” factors, grant him
an immediate parole hearing that none of the defendants can
participate in, enter an “order of protection”
providing that none of the defendants can participate in
future parole decisions, compel the Missouri Parole Board to
implement screening and pre-hearing processes, and order the
Missouri Parole Board to expunge any information regarding
non-commitment offenses from the plaintiff’s parole
file. He also seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
McSwain, Wells, Rucker, Jones, Zamkus, Dusenberg, Ruzika, and
Crump are all current or former members of the Missouri
Parole Board, and are sued in their official and individual
capacities. Wolford alleges that these defendants violated
his constitutional rights when they took various actions in
the process of considering and deciding to deny him parole.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that members of
a state parole board are entitled to absolute immunity when
considering and deciding parole questions. Mayorga v.
Missouri, 442 F.3d 1128, 1131 (8th Cir. 2006) (parole
board members were entitled to absolute immunity in their
individual capacities even if mistaken in judgment);
accord Figg v. Russell, 433 F.3d 593, 598 (8th Cir.
2006) (parole board members are absolutely immune from suit
when considering and denying parole questions; extending
absolute immunity to parole agent where his function was so
associated with function of parole board that he was also
cloaked in immunity). “Absolute immunity defeats a suit
at the outset, so long as the official’s actions were
within the scope of the immunity.” Patterson v. Von