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Laramore v. Washington County Jail

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

August 9, 2017

DENNIS LARAMORE, Plaintiff,
v.
WASHINGTON COUNTY JAIL, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOHN A. ROSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, a prisoner, seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Having reviewed plaintiffs financial information, the Court assesses a partial initial filing fee of $1.00. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b); Henderson v. Norris, 129 F.3d 48l(8th Cir. 1997). Additionally, after review of the complaint, the Court will order the Clerk to serve process on defendants Shannon Thompson, Kevin Snow, and Unknown Barton.

         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.

         When reviewing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court accepts the well-pled facts as true. Furthermore, the Court liberally construes the allegations.

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff is detained in the Washington County Jail (the "Jail"). He suffers from a heart condition for which he requires regular medication. Upon his arrival at the Jail, he was not given his heart medicine for thirty days. He was without his other medications for sixty days. On June 15, 2017, he was taken to the hospital for shortness of breath and hypertension. The doctor who treated him recommended a follow-up with a cardiologist. Defendant Kevin Snow told plaintiff he would not be allowed to schedule the follow-up because "we don't do that." Plaintiff alleges that he filed several grievances regarding the denial of medical treatment, but defendants Snow, Steve Rhine, and Unknown Barton refused to respond to them.

         Plaintiff further alleges that the Jail is designed to hold twenty-eight inmates, but the average population has been fifty-five since plaintiff arrived there. He has had to share a four-man cell with up to fifteen other inmates. The cells are filthy, and plaintiff has not had access to a towel or cleaning supplies, among other things. His medical condition has worsened as a result. Plaintiff complained to defendants Barton, Snow, and Shannon Thompson about the conditions, but they refused to intervene. He says Rhine, Snow, and Barton threw his grievances on the matter in the trash.

         Plaintiff requested access to legal research materials from Zach Jacobson, Thompson, Rhine, and Snow. Defendants denied his requests.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff has alleged non-frivolous claims against defendants Shannon Thompson, Kevin Snow, and Unknown Barton in their individual capacities for medical mistreatment and unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Therefore, the Court will order the Clerk to serve them with process.

         Naming a government official in his or her official capacity is the equivalent of naming the government entity that employs the official. Will v. Michigan Dep 't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). To state a claim against a municipality or a government official in his or her official capacity, a plaintiff must allege that a policy or custom of the government entity is responsible for the alleged constitutional violation. Monell v. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). The instant complaint does not contain any allegations that a policy or custom of a government entity was responsible for the alleged violations of plaintiffs constitutional rights. Therefore, plaintiffs official-capacity claims are dismissed.

         Plaintiffs allegations that defendants did not respond to his grievances do not state a plausible claim for relief. See George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609 (7th Cir. 2007) ("Only persons who cause or participate in the [constitutional] violations are responsible. Ruling against a prisoner on an administrative complaint does not cause or contribute to the violation."). There is no allegation that the failure to respond to the grievances caused or contributed to cause a constitutional violation. As a result, the grievance claims against defendants Snow, Rhine, Barton, and Thompson are dismissed.

         "To state a claim [for denial of meaningful access to the courts], inmates must assert that they suffered an actual injury to pending or contemplated legal claims." Mye ...


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