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Parks v. Marcus

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

July 5, 2017

KYLE MAURICE PARKS, Plaintiff,
v.
HOWARD MARCUS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          E. RICHARD WEBBER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff Kyle Maurice Parks, a federal prisoner, for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the filing fee (Docket No. 12). The motion will be granted, and this case will be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).

         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 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 an affidavit and an inmate account statement showing an average monthly balance of $67.96. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $13.59, 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).

         Background

         The following background provides necessary context for the case at bar. In December of 2015, plaintiff was indicted in this Court on a charge of knowingly transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent that the minor engage in prostitution, and in August of 2016, a Superseding Indictment was returned that expanded the nature and number of the charges. See United States v. Parks, 4:15-cr-553-JAR-1 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 19, 2017).[1] Assistant United States Attorney Howard Marcus, a named defendant in the case at bar, represented the government during plaintiff's criminal prosecution. During the pretrial proceedings, plaintiff was detained in the Ste. Genevieve Detention Center (“SGDC”). On January 12, 2017, following a jury trial, plaintiff was found guilty of one count of transportation of a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1591(a)(1), 1591(b)(2); two counts of attempted transportation of a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1591(a)(1), 1591(b)(2); and six counts of transportation with intent to engage in prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2421(a). On April 19, 2017, plaintiff was sentenced to a total term of 300 months' imprisonment, and committed to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons. Id.

         In the case at bar, plaintiff filed a complaint on April 7, 2017, but neither paid the filing fee nor sought leave to proceed in forma pauperis. This Court ordered him to do one or the other, and he timely complied. Subsequently, on April 25, 2017, plaintiff filed an amended complaint, which the Court now reviews pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).

         The Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. However, because defendants Marcus and Deputy United States Marshal Marten are federal employees, plaintiff's claims against them for civil rights violations are most properly brought under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), the “federal analog to suits brought against state officials under” § 1983. Hartman v. Moore, 547 U.S. 250, 254 n. 2 (2006). A Bivens claim involves the same analysis as one arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Gordon v. Hansen, 168 F.3d 1109, 1113 (8th Cir. 1999).

         Plaintiff alleges that his civil rights were violated when the defendants caused him to be placed in some form of segregation within SGDC, which plaintiff terms “confinement, ” and denied him due process. According to plaintiff's notations next to each defendant's name in the caption of the amended complaint, he sues Marcus in his individual capacity, and he sues Marten and Patricia Karol (an ...


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