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Hemingway v. Shelton

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

April 18, 2017

LAMON TANEAL HEMINGWAY, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
CALEB SHELTON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court upon the motion of pro se plaintiff Lamon Taneal Hemingway, Sr. for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Docket No. 2). Having reviewed the financial information plaintiff submitted in support, the Court determines that plaintiff is unable to pay the full amount of the filing fee. The motion will therefore be granted. In addition, as will be explained below, the complaint will be dismissed as to defendants Jason Lewis, Paula Reed, Ian Wallace, Bill Stange, and Missouri Department of Corrections Director, and the Court will direct the Clerk of Court to issue process as to defendants Caleb Shelton, Molly Fields, and Trevor Proffer in their individual capacities.

         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 the prisoner's 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 a certified inmate account statement showing an average monthly deposit of $8.50. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $1.70, twenty percent of plaintiff's average monthly deposit.

         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 brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. Named as defendants are Caleb Shelton, Molly Fields, Trevor Proffer, Jason Lewis, Paul Reed, Ian Wallace, Bill Stange, and Missouri Department of Corrections Director. Plaintiff alleges as follows.

         On November 16, 2016, Shelton and Fields brought a prisoner named Hill to plaintiff's cell. Plaintiff told Shelton and Fields that Hill was his enemy and that he feared for his life because Hill had previously threatened him. Plaintiff asked to be removed from the cell. Fields handed plaintiff an enemy declaration form, which plaintiff completed and returned to Fields. Fields read the form and placed it in her pocket, and plaintiff was cuffed and removed from the cell. Fields and Shelton then spoke to each other, and then told plaintiff to return to the cell. Plaintiff refused, stating that he was afraid of Hill but he ultimately reentered the cell after Shelton and Fields threatened to use mace. Once plaintiff was back in the cell, Shelton told plaintiff he would be remaining there, and told him to uncuff. Plaintiff again protested being left in the cell with Hill, and asked to be removed. Shelton stated that he was going to mace plaintiff. Hill then said, in the presence of Shelton and Fields, “ . . . if you get me maced Imma kill you.” (Docket No. 1 at 8). Shelton then grabbed a tether that was apparently attached to plaintiff's handcuffs and pulled him through the food port door, causing deep lacerations on plaintiff's wrists and left arm. Shelton continued to pull the tether, causing plaintiff's right shoulder to dislocate. Shelton then removed the cuffs.

         Proffer then arrived on the scene, and plaintiff explained the situation to him. Proffer read the enemy declaration form and then stated to Fields and Shelton, “f**k him, let's go.” (Id. at 9). The three departed, leaving plaintiff in the cell with Hill.

         Hill punched, threatened and intimidated plaintiff. Plaintiff “had to use the bunks bar to manipulate his arm to pop it back into its socket as plaintiff was unsure if Hill would attack again.” (Id.) Plaintiff was left in the cell with Hill all night and feared for his life. The next ...


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