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Taylor v. St. Charles County Department of Corrections

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

August 21, 2017

TIMOTHY ERIC TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. CHARLES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JEAN C. HAMILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court upon the motion of Timothy Eric Taylor, an inmate at the St. Charles County Department of Corrections (also “SCCDC”), for leave to commence this action without prepayment of the filing fee. The Court has reviewed the financial information submitted in support, and will grant the motion. In addition, the Court will dismiss the complaint, without prejudice.

         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 inmate account statement that detailed his account only for July of 2017. Based upon the information the Court has about plaintiff's finances, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $1.00. See Henderson v. Norris, 129 F.3d 481, 484 (8th Cir. 1997).

         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. A pleading that offers “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do, ” nor will a complaint suffice if it tenders “naked assertion[s]” 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 Complaint

         Plaintiff seeks monetary relief in this action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Named as defendants are the St. Charles County Department of Corrections, the St. Charles County 11th Judicial Circuit Court, Unknown Nurse Practitioner, and Unknown Institutional PhD. Plaintiff alleges that he has a chronic liver condition and that he requested that SCCDC perform “proper blood work” and a liver biopsy, but only received a “4 panel routine blood work test and that is it.” (Docket No. 1 at 6, 9). Plaintiff also alleges that “they” denied his request to submit a request to the Center for Disease Control, alleging that doing so is the “proper procedure.” (Id. at 9). Plaintiff also alleges that his request to send medical records to his sister was denied, and that because of this, he was unable to get a second opinion. Plaintiff alleges that his condition is worsening, that his bowel movements are discolored, and that when he alerted “medical” to this he was moved to a monitored observation cell for 72 hours and given six cups of water and one shower. He alleges that medical never checked on him, took samples or checked his stool. He was subsequently returned to his regular cell, and told that his concerns had been noted and he was to contact the medical department if he had further concerns, but that he did not do so. He alleges that he should have been allowed to pursue his own course of medical treatment.

         Discussion

         The St. Charles County Department of Corrections and the St. Charles County 11th Judicial Circuit Court are not suable entities. See Ketchum v. City of West Memphis, Ark., 974 F.2d 81 (8th Cir. 1992) (departments or subdivisions of local government are “not juridical entities suable as such”); Mildfelt v. Circuit Court of Jackson County, Mo., 827 F.2d 343, 345 (8th Cir. 1987) (“[S]tate courts as entities are not vulnerable to a ' 1983 suit because they are protected by immunity under the Eleventh Amendment.”). Plaintiff's claims against them will therefore be dismissed as legally frivolous. To the extent Unknown Nurse Practitioner and Unknown Institutional PhD can be understood to be SCCDC employees, plaintiff fails to state a claim against them in their official capacities because he fails to allege that a policy or custom of SCCDC is responsible for the alleged constitutional violation. See Monell v. Dept. of Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978).

         The complaint is subject to dismissal as to Unknown Nurse Practitioner or Unknown Institutional PhD regardless of the capacity in which they are sued. First, plaintiff does not allege that either fictitious party engaged in any specific conduct, or was personally responsible for causing any constitutional harm. Liability under § 1983 requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the alleged deprivation of rights, Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th Cir. 1990), and a claim is not cognizable under § 1983 where plaintiff fails to allege that the defendant was personally involved in or directly responsible for incidents that injured him. Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1338 (8th Cir. 1985). Merely listing a party's name as a defendant in the caption without alleging he or she engaged in any specific conduct, as plaintiff has done, is insufficient. See Krych v. Hvass, 83 F. App'x 854, 855 (8th Cir. 2003) (affirming dismissal of pro se complaint against defendants who were merely listed as defendants in the caption and there were no allegations of constitutional harm against them).

         Civil plaintiffs are required to set forth their claims in a simple, concise, and direct manner, and they are required to set forth the facts supporting such claims as to each named defendant. This Court's obligation to liberally construe plaintiff's complaint does not include the obligation to create facts or construct claims that have not been alleged. See Stone, 364 F.3d at 914-15 (Court is not required to ÔÇťassume facts that are not alleged, just because an additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger ...


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