United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Albert
Corey Hunter, a prisoner, for leave to commence this civil
action without prepayment of the required filing fee. Having
reviewed the motion and the financial information submitted
in support, the Court has determined that plaintiff lacks
sufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee, and will
assess an initial partial filing fee of $2.07. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). In addition, for the reasons
discussed below, the Court will dismiss the complaint
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)
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.
support of the instant motion, plaintiff submitted an inmate
account statement showing an average monthly balance of
$10.39. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial
filing fee of $2.07, which is twenty percent of
plaintiff's average monthly balance.
Standard on Initial Review
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,
inter alia, draw upon judicial experience and common
sense. Id. at 679.
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,
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Named
as defendants are the County of St. Louis, Jennifer L. Hill,
Albert Hunter, Jr., Marsha L. Goesman, Betty Doe, Jane Doe,
and John Doe. Plaintiff alleges that Hill “willfully,
wantonly, deliberately and intentionally” interfered
with his parental rights and his parent-child relationship,
which has caused him emotional distress. (Docket No. 1 at 3).
He claims Hill has isolated his children from him,
intercepted communications, and created a negative
relationship between plaintiff and his children. He states
that Hill is not a relative to plaintiff or his children, and
he states that her actions are “criminal and amount to
kidnapping.” Id. Plaintiff claims that Hunter,
Goesmann and the Doe defendants “have all aided and
abetted Hill's isolation and concealment of [his]
children through willful and wanton assistance to Hill,
knowing that [plaintiff] would suffer harm from their
actions, approval and/or assistance to Hill.”
Id. Finally, plaintiff claims that the County of St.
Louis “has issued an ex parte order and full order of
protection” against him, due to the “legal malice
of Hill.” Id. Plaintiff claims that the order
was issued by Judge Sandra Hemphill, and that it amounted to
a negligent and wrongful act and influenced the County of St.
Louis Court to interfere with plaintiff's parental
relief, plaintiff asks this Court to enter an injunction
against Hill to release his children to an unspecified member
of his family, a “declaration in judgment” for
damages he has suffered, compensatory damages of $50 per day,
per child, for the time during which his parental rights were
compromised, and punitive damages in the same amount as the
compensatory damages. (Docket No. 1 at 4).
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which
was designed to provide a “broad remedy for violations
of federally protected civil rights.” Monell v.
Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 685 (1978).
Section 1983 provides no substantive rights; it merely
provides a remedy for violations of all “rights,
privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and
laws [of the United States].” 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
see also Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271
(1994) (42 U.S.C. § 1983 “merely provides a method
for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred”).
To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff
must establish: (1) the violation of a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States, and (2) that the
alleged deprivation of that right was committed by a person
acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487
U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
Court first addresses plaintiff's claims against
defendant County of St. Louis. Plaintiff's claims against
the County stem from a county judge's issuance of orders
adverse to him. A local governmental body such as a county is
considered a “person” subject to section 1983
liability. Scheeler v. City of St. Cloud, Minn., 402
F.3d 826, 832 (8th Cir. 2005). However, a county may be held
liable only for constitutional violations that result from
its policies or customs. Monell v. Dept. of Social
Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91
(1978), L.L. Nelson Enterprises, Inc. v. County of St.
Louis, Mo., 673 F.3d 799, 811 (8th Cir. 2012). In this
case, plaintiff ...