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Carter v. Chase

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

December 1, 2017

JOE CHASE, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff, Keithlan Carter, who is currently detained at the Southeast Behavioral Health Center in Poplar Bluff, Missouri[1], to commence this action without payment of the required filing fee. For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that plaintiff does not have sufficient funds to pay the filing fee and will grant plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Furthermore, based upon a review of the complaint, the Court finds that this case should be stayed and administratively closed pursuant to the principles espoused in the Supreme Court case of Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 394 (2007).

         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, until the filing fee is fully paid. Id.

         Although plaintiff has not submitted an account statement from the Behavioral Health Center, he has included a Financial Affidavit stating that he is currently disabled. The Court will not assess a filing fee at this time.

         28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. An action is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989); Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). An action is malicious if it is undertaken for the purpose of harassing the named defendants and not for the purpose of vindicating a cognizable right. Spencer v. Rhodes, 656 F.Supp. 458, 461-63 (E.D. N.C. 1987), aff'd 826 F.2d 1059 (4th Cir. 1987). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         The Complaint[2]

         Plaintiff, Keithlan Carter, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his civil rights. Named as defendants are: Sergeant Joe Chase of the Salem Police Dept; Cpl. Randy Brooks; Salem Police Department; Dent County Sheriff's Department; Mary Kaufman (Owner of the Walnut Bowl Inn); Patrolman Mike Loveday; Jonathan Counts of the Salem Police Dept.; Christopher Robbins of the Dent County Sheriff's Office; the State of Missouri; and Evelynn Unknown (Front Desk Clerk of the Walnut Bowl Inn).

         Plaintiff alleges that in late 2013, Officer Chase made him touch a handgun at Express Detail in Salem, Missouri, so he could later “plant it on” him, and presumably have him arrested for a murder or some other crime at some later date. Plaintiff claims that he contacted the FBI in March of 2014 to report the incident. Plaintiff alleges that the matter was investigated and reports that the owner of Express Detail and his employee gave statements about the incident on his behalf concerning the matter. At the outset of his complaint, plaintiff asserts generally that because of his prior testimony in a “murder for hire” case, a “bounty” was placed on his head by a drug gang known by the initials HAWB. Plaintiff claims that as a result of his testimony, he was “sentenced to death” by the drug gang, HAWB, and several attempts have been made on his life.

         As for the other allegations contained in the amended complaint, they center on an event that purportedly occurred on September 12, 2014, and are presumably connected to the “promise” made by defendant Chase to have plaintiff later arrested.

         Plaintiff states that on this date he was in “residence” in room 139 at the Walnut Bowl Inn in Salem, Missouri. He claims that there was a known “hit-man” in room 138 at the Inn. Plaintiff asserts that the defendant Salem Police Officers (Counts, Wells, Loveday and Brooks, as well as Dent County Sheriff's Officer Robbins) knew about the hit-man hiding in room 139 and conspired with one another and the employees of the Walnut Bowl Inn (defendants Kaufman and Evlynn Unknown) to kill or arrest plaintiff who was a “federal witness” and help the hit-man escape.

         Plaintiff also states that Erica Hopkins and Shawna Steelman “tried to set him up, ” but he fails to state how these individuals were involved in the matter or if they were employed by the police department or the hotel or another agency. About these two individuals plaintiff merely says they were “paid to lure [him] to the back of the hotel to be shot and killed” or “set him up.” Plaintiff does not make any further allegations regarding the named defendants in his complaint, although he makes various conclusory allegations in his pleading regarding his belief that he was “followed” at various time periods by unknown persons during 2016.

         In his request for relief, plaintiff seeks $20 million dollars and placement in a ...

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