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Bodway v. Hastings

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

December 11, 2017

LOUIS SEAN BODWAY, Plaintiff,
v.
SUSAN HASTINGS, M.D., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          SHIRLEY PADMORE MENSAH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Louis Sean Bodway 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 waive the initial partial filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4).

         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 Activity” form from the St. Louis County Justice Center, showing that his account balance was -$39.64. For this reason, the Court will waive the initial partial filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4) (“In no event shall a prisoner be prohibited from bringing a civil action or appealing a civil or criminal judgment for the reason that the prisoner has no assets and no means by which to pay the initial partial filing fee.”). However, plaintiff is not excused from paying the filing fee. The agency having custody of plaintiff will be directed to begin forwarding payments from plaintiff's inmate account, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), until the $350.00 filing fee is paid in full.

         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 an inmate at the St. Louis County Justice Center. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Susan Hastings, M.D., Jane Doe Bella, M.D., Julia Childress, Jane Doe, and John Doe. He sues all defendants in an individual capacity.

         Counts I and II allege claims of deliberate indifference to plaintiff's serious medical needs, asserting that Hastings did not treat a MRSA staph infection, and Hastings and Bella denied him adequate pain medication. In Count III, plaintiff alleges that unidentified “infirmary staff” delayed dental treatment for six weeks, and as a result, plaintiff developed an infection and ultimately lost the tooth. (Docket No. 1, Attch. 1, at 14). In Count IV, plaintiff alleges that he was placed on secure move status in violation of his due process rights. In Count V, plaintiff claims that the diet served at the jail is nutritionally inadequate, and contains no milk, fruit or vegetables, among other foods. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and unspecified monetary damages.

         Discussion

         The Court has reviewed the complaint and believes that, although plaintiff may be able to assert claims based on the denial of his constitutional rights, he has improperly joined in this one lawsuit all five defendants and his numerous claims against them. Rule 20(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs joinder of defendants, and provides:

Persons . . . may be joined in one action as defendants if: (A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and (B) any ...

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