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Gunther v. Neff

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

December 8, 2017

REX GUNTHER, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 27). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(c)(1).[1] For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion will be GRANTED and the consolidated action will be DISMISSED.

         I. Background

         This is a consolidated Section 1983. Pro se Plaintiff Rex S. Gunther f/k/a Peter Charles Kroner's (“Plaintiff”), a civilly committed person at the Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center (“SMMHC”) in Farmington, Missouri, alleges that Defendants Dr. Stacey Neff (“Dr. Neff”) and David Schmitt (“Schmitt”) (collectively “Defendants”) restricted his ability to send and receive mail. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Neff, “verbally told ‘NO' [sic] to the petitioner for sending any mail item to his fiancé . . . or receiving any mail item from her” (Doc. 1 at 1). Plaintiff further asserts that Dr. Neff will also not let him have any phone contact with his fiancé (Id.). As to his claims against Dr. Neff, Plaintiff requests various forms of injunctive relief (Id. at 2).

         Plaintiff also alleges that Schmitt, the Chief Operating Officer at SMMHC, violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights by not allowing Plaintiff to send or receive mail (Doc. 4[2] at 5). In support of his assertion, Plaintiff provides, as an exhibit attached to the Amended Complaint, a memo from Schmitt to Plaintiff dated October 25, 2016 (Id. at 7).[3] The Memo reads in its entirety:

Per our conversation and at your request[, ] I am outlining, herein, the reasons for the restriction of your mail.
You have recently made several attempts to forward mail to individuals you are restricted from contact with using third party intermediaries, have attempted to receive items with pictures of children in spite of restrictions on such due to pedophilia, and have attempted to mail large sums of money. These behaviors are interfering with your therapeutic processes. Therefore, your mail will be restricted (except for legitimate legal mail) for 30 days based on RSMO 630.010 subsection 5 at which time the restriction will be reviewed.

(Id.). Plaintiff asserts that his mail was restricted from October 25, 2016 to December 19, 2016 (Id. at 5). Plaintiff also asserts that Schmitt incorrectly labels him a pedophile as “Plaintiff's lifetime criminal record shows that there never was anything brought before any court of a sexual nature” (Id.). In support of this assertion, Plaintiff provides the Court with what appears to be the first page of his Missouri Criminal History (Id. at 8). As to Schmitt, Plaintiff requests that Schmitt “be ordered to immediately release all restrictions on the Plaintiff's incoming and outgoing mail; stop all screening of all mail either way and Plaintiff can send outgoing mail any day from Monday to Friday” (Id. at 9). Plaintiff also requests monetary damages in the amount of $1, 000, 000 (Id.). Plaintiff sues both Dr. Neff and Schmitt as persons and in their professional statuses (See Id. at 1).

         On June 19, 2017, Defendants moved pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss the consolidated action (Doc. 27). On June 23, 2017, Plaintiff filed a letter entitled “Update for Current Action” indicating that as of June 20, 2017, his phone and mail restrictions had been altered such that his phone restrictions were removed as were any restrictions on incoming mail but his outgoing mail continues to be screened and censored and he can only send mail out on Tuesdays and Fridays (Doc. 30). On June 30, 2017, in response to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff filed a “Reply to Motion to Dismiss” indicating that he “concurs with the dismissal of complaint with Defendant Dr. Stacey Neff . . . [and] concurs with dismissal of partial complaint with Defendant David Schmitt for only those stated in Section (2) [(presumptively Plaintiff's injunctive relief request)]” (Doc. 31 at 1).

         Prior to the filing of Plaintiff's response, on June 30, 2017 in light of the letter filed by Plaintiff, the Court directed Plaintiff to file a memorandum no later than fourteen (14) days from the date of the Order either (1) indicating that he wished to dismiss the injunctive relief claims against David Schmitt and the Complaint against Dr. Stacey Neff or (2) stating why his injunctive relief claims against David Schmitt and his Complaint against Dr. Stacey Neff should not be dismissed as moot (Doc. 29). Plaintiff did not file a memorandum with the Court. However, on August 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed a letter indicating that he filed his reply with the Court and requesting an update on the status of the case (Doc. 32). Therefore, as a preliminary matter, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion to Dismiss as to the injunctive claims in this consolidated case. Accordingly, as Plaintiff only requested injunctive relief of Dr. Stacey Neff, she will be dismissed. The only issue remaining before the Court is whether Plaintiff's claim for monetary damages against Schmitt properly states a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         II. Legal Standard for a Motion to Dismiss

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for a motion to dismiss based on the “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” To survive a motion to dismiss a complaint must show “ ‘that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.' ” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice” to defeat a motion to dismiss. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[O]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The pleading standard of Rule 8 “does not require ‘detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “When ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). All reasonable inferences from the complaint must be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party. Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 1999).

         III. Analysis

         A. ...

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