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Watkins v. State

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri

September 5, 2017

CHAUNCEY LEON WATKINS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF MISSOURI, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NOELLE C. COLLINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court upon the request of plaintiff Chauncey Leon Watkins, Jr., a prisoner currently incarcerated at the St. Louis County Justice Center, for leave to commence this action without prepayment of the filing fee.[1] Having reviewed plaintiff's financial information, the Court will not assess an initial partial filing fee at this time. In addition, the Court will allow plaintiff the opportunity to submit a second amended complaint.

         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 this case, plaintiff has submitted a prison account showing a negative account balance of $-56.00. Therefore, the Court will not assess an initial partial filing fee at this time.

         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 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

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his civil rights. He has named thirty-eight (38) individuals and entities as defendants in this action, including: the State of Missouri; St. Louis County Justice Services; St. Louis County Circuit Courts; Clayton Police Department; Herbert Bernsen (Director); Tena Johnson (Investigator); Tom DePriest (Judge); Brian May (Judge); Jeffrey Pauk (Prosecutor); Brook Hurst (Prosecutor); Stephen Reynolds (Public Defender); Travis Martin (Public Defender); Unknown Patterson (Clayton Police Officer); Gerald Kramer (Unit Manager); Jeffrey Siler (Unit Manager); May Stearn (Caseworker); Kenneth Reed, Jr. (Major); Lt. Unknown Reed; Lt. Unknown O'Brien; Lt. Unknown Kirksey; Lt. Unknown Lewis; Lt. Unknown Bromier; Lt. Unknown Mitchell; Unknown Steam ___;[2] Unknown Whitehill; K. Doherty; Unknown Showmaker; Unknown Killebrew; Unknown Bryant; Unknown Stuart; Unknown Officer Harris; Unknown Thrush; Unknown Barnhill; Unknown Hudson; Unknown Williams; Unknown Vilmer; Nurse Kendra Unknown; Dr. Unknown Leeker.

         Plaintiff has not provided the Court with a full “Statement of Claim” in his amended complaint. Instead, plaintiff has stated generally that he was subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment” and “due process [violations]” during his incarceration at St. Louis County Justice Services between the dates of July 29, 2016 and August 3, 2017. He states that also between these dates he was subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment” and “due process [violations]” by the St. Louis County Circuit Courts. Plaintiff further claims that during the dates of February 21, 2016 and August 3, 2017, he was subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment” and “due process [violations]” by the Clayton Police Department. Plaintiff has not provided any additional factual assertions against the aforementioned defendants.

         Plaintiff has provided a listing of the individual defendants, and next to each name he has stated such assertions as: “cruel and unusual punishment; due process; false imprisonment; unlawful prosecution; false violation; did not enforce law; refused me medical attention; refused me mental health attention; was not enforcing policy; sexual assault violation; etc.” Plaintiff has failed write in paragraph form exactly what he perceives to be the unlawful acts perpetrated by the individual defendants against him in this action.[3]

         Plaintiff brings this action against defendants in their official capacities only. He ...


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