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Williams v. Crawford

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

August 7, 2017

KEVIN KUNLAY WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
LARRY CRAWFORD, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          AUDREY G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court upon the filing of plaintiff Kevin Kunlay Williams's amended complaint. For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that the amended complaint should be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed his original complaint on May 8, 2017. He neither paid the filing fee nor moved for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and on May 10, 2017, the Court ordered him to do one or the other. In so doing, the Court instructed plaintiff that, if he chose file a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, he must also submit an inmate account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint. On May 23, 2017, plaintiff filed a letter and a copy of his inmate account statement. However, he neither paid the filing fee nor filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and the time for doing so had passed. However, because it appeared that plaintiff attempted to comply with the Court's Order, and in consideration of his pro se status, the Court sua sponte gave him additional time to comply, which he did.

         The Court granted plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and conducted initial review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The Court noted that the complaint was subject to dismissal, and allowed plaintiff the opportunity to submit an amended complaint. In so doing, the Court clearly instructed plaintiff that he was required to set forth specific factual allegations supporting his claim or claims against each defendant he wished to sue. The Court also cautioned plaintiff that his failure to make specific allegations against any defendant would result in the dismissal of his case against that defendant. Plaintiff timely filed an amended complaint, which the Court now reviews pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         Legal Standard on Initial Review

         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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). A pleading that offers “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” is insufficient, nor will a complaint suffice if it tenders bare assertions devoid of “further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         When conducting initial review pursuant to § 1915(e)(2), the Court must accept as true the allegations in the complaint, and must give the complaint the benefit of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the tenet that a court must accept the allegations as true does not apply to legal conclusions, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, and 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). 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”).

         The Amended Complaint

         In the ten-count amended complaint, plaintiff names as defendant Larry Crawford, the Director of the St. Charles County Jail. Plaintiff sues Crawford in his individual capacity. Plaintiff sets forth many claims that he purports to bring on behalf of the inmate population of the jail.

         In count one, plaintiff alleges that jail staffing and the jail's KIOSK communication system are inadequate, causing prisoners to wait for long periods of time. In count two, plaintiff alleges that the Department of Corrections provides only thin mattresses to prisoners. In count three, plaintiff alleges that prisoners must wait long periods to visit the jail's law library, and are not allowed to use the St. Charles County Courthouse law library. In count four, plaintiff alleges that a prisoner complained that peanut butter caused him to have hives, but the St. Charles County Jail Food Administrator continued to offer him peanut butter. Plaintiff also alleges that the St. Charles County Department of Corrections does not have an allergy specialist on staff, that St. Charles County refused to allow a prisoner to use allergy medicine from home, and refused to let the prisoner know whether he was really allergic to peanut butter. In count five, plaintiff alleges that federal prisoners are housed with state inmates. In count six, plaintiff alleges that the St. Charles County Department of Corrections does not provide proper medical care for inmates, and the jail doctor is abusive. In count seven, plaintiff alleges that St. Charles County Department of Corrections makes excessive profits from inmates via the commissary. In count eight, plaintiff alleges that the St. Charles County Jail refused to provide prisoners with copies of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and court local rules. In count nine, plaintiff alleges that the St. Charles County Department of Corrections feeds prisoners stale bread, and the Food Department plays games with the prisoners by ignoring various dietary restrictions and prisoner health issues. Plaintiff also alleges that prisoners must pay high postage prices or mail will be returned to the sender. In count ten, plaintiff alleges that the St. Charles County Department of Corrections does not provide services for paying a legal assistant, and should allow prisoners to withdraw money from their trust funds at any time.

         On August 3, 2017, plaintiff filed a document titled “Additional Statement of Claim & Facts to the Above Cause” (hereafter “Additional Statement”) (Docket No. 11).[1] Therein, plaintiff purports to bring additional claims on behalf of prisoners at the jail. He alleges, inter alia, that the KIOSK system makes it difficult for prisoners to file and pursue grievances, and to prove that they have done so. Plaintiff also alleges that he personally asked to “file a request to the jail administration requesting for a copy of the request sent to the social caseworker department of Saint Charles County Department of Correction, ” but that his request was denied with the statement “sorry we do not provide such services.” (Id. at 2-3).

         Discussion

         In the amended complaint, plaintiff does not expressly allege that he personally suffered any loss. Instead, he refers to the inmate population as a whole, and also at times to an unidentified prisoner. Plaintiff lacks standing to bring claims alleging mistreatment of other inmates. Instead, he must allege a personal loss. See Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985). Further, plaintiff is not a ...


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