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Arman v. Davis

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

September 29, 2017

ANDREW ARMAN, Plaintiff,
JASON DAVIS, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Andrew Arman, an inmate at Southeast Correctional Center, for leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this civil action, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Docket No. 2).[1] The motion will be granted, and plaintiff will be given the opportunity to submit an 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 or her 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 the instant motion, plaintiff avers that he receives $5.00 per month in income. He did not include a certified copy of his inmate account statement for the six month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint. However, he did file a letter explaining that he had tried to obtain the required statement, but unnamed prison officials refused to give it to him. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $1.00, which is twenty percent of plaintiff's stated monthly income and an amount this Court determines is reasonable. See Henderson v. Norris, 129 F.3d 481, 484 (8th Cir. 1997) (when a prisoner is unable to provide the Court with a certified copy of his prison account statement, the Court should assess an amount “that is reasonable, based on whatever information the court has about the prisoner's finances.”).

         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, among other things, 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).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff filed the instant complaint on September 1, 2017. Named as defendants are Jason Davis, Ham Payne Fum, Cindy Griffith, and Alan Earls. Plaintiff sues all defendants in their official and individual capacities.

         Plaintiff alleges that, on January 16, 2017, Davis and other officers assaulted him, and Davis struck him in the face with a closed fist. Plaintiff also alleges that Griffith told him his past behavior was to blame. Plaintiff alleges he was denied medical attention, and he includes a narrative describing mental anguish, hardship, and retaliatory acts by unnamed individuals. He sets forth no factual allegations regarding Fum or Earls. He seeks monetary damages.

         After filing the instant complaint, plaintiff filed a motion to amend. The motion to amend states that plaintiff wished to amend his complaint to include an additional four defendants, whom he names. Plaintiff states that the facts are included in the “initial argument.” (Docket No. 5). He did not attach a copy of a proposed amended complaint.


         While plaintiff's allegations survive initial review as to Davis in his individual capacity, [2]it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted as to all other defendants in their individual capacities. Plaintiff's allegation that Griffith told him his past behavior was to blame does not state a claim of constitutional dimension. See Burton v. Livingston, 791 F.2d 97, 99 (8th Cir. 1986) (“mere words, without more, do not invade a federally protected right.”). In addition, while plaintiff names Fum and Earls as defendants, he does not set forth facts that explain what they did to violate his constitutional rights. See Krych v. Hvass, 83 F. App'x 854, 855 (8th ...

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