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Turner v. St. Louis City Sheriff's Office

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

November 21, 2017

DAMAL J. TURNER, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Damal J. Turner 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 to grant the motion, and assess an initial partial filing fee of $7.62. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). In addition, for the reasons discussed below, 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 showing an average monthly balance of $38.11. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $7.62, which is twenty percent of plaintiff s average monthly balance.

         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, inter alia, draw upon judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.

         Pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). However, they still must allege sufficient facts to support the claims alleged. Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004); see also Martin v. Aubuchon, 623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980) (even pro se complaints are required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim for relief as a matter of law). Federal courts are not required to "assume facts that are not alleged, just because an additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger complaint." Stone, 364 F.3d at 914-15. In addition, giving 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 is a pretrial detainee at the St. Louis City Justice Center. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the St. Louis City Sheriffs Office. He alleges as follows.

         On June 3, 2017, plaintiffs father died unexpectedly. Plaintiff called his defense attorney, who filed a motion in plaintiffs pending criminal case asking that plaintiff be allowed to leave prison to view his father's body at the funeral home. Plaintiff attaches to the complaint a copy of the docket sheet in his criminal case, which shows that an order entitled "Funeral Transportation Order" was entered on June 13, 2017 by the Honorable Barbara Peebles. Indeed, review of plaintiff s pending criminal case on Missouri, the State of Missouri's online docketing system, shows that on June 13, 2017, Judge Peebles entered that order, which provided as follows:

The Sheriffs of the City of St. Louis are ordered, if reasonably practicable, to transport [plaintiff] to the Pilgrim Temple CME Church, located at 1800 Treadley Avenue, East St. Louis, IL, at or before 9:00 am on 6/14/17. [Plaintiff] is to view the body of his father, Duane Turner, pursuant to the rules and regulations of the Sheriffs Department.

See State v. Turner, Case No. 1622-CR05186 (22nd Jud. Cir. Dec. 8, 2016).

         Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights were violated when, on June 14, 2017, defendant did not obey that state court order. Plaintiff alleges that he suffered mental and physical distress, and he seeks ...

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