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Henson v. Brennon

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

January 22, 2018

DR. UNKNOWN BRENNON, et al. Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff William Henson, an inmate at Northeast Correctional Center (“NECC”), for leave to commence this action without payment of the required filing fee. For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that the plaintiff does not have sufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee and will assess an initial partial filing fee of $38.87. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Furthermore, after reviewing the complaint, the Court will partially dismiss the complaint and will order the Clerk to issue process or cause process to be issued on the non-frivolous portions of the complaint.

         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.

         Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit and a certified copy of his prison account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the submission of his complaint. A review of plaintiff's account indicates an average monthly deposit of $194.33. Plaintiff has insufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee. Accordingly, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $38.87, which is 20 percent of plaintiff's average monthly deposit.

         Legal Standard

         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

         Plaintiff brings this complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against several members of the medical staff and the warden at NECC. He states that on November 17, 2016, he began experiencing extreme pain followed by loss of feeling in his left leg. He alerted NECC staff, who initiated medical emergency protocol at 4:00 p.m. He states that medical staff had to be notified of his condition another three times over the next two and a half hours, before he was treated. He states that by 6:35 p.m., he had lost complete function of his left leg and struck his forehead on the corner of the sink in his housing unit. For relief, plaintiff seeks an injunction and monetary damages in the amount of $50, 000.00.


         (1) Defendant Warden Chante Godert

         Plaintiff names as a defendant the Warden of NECC, Chante Godert, in her official capacity, stating “she is ultimately responsible for my welfare, thus in her official capacity failed to [provide] plaintiff his rights to due process when the administration failed to respond to numerous grievances on this issue.” “Liability under § 1983 requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the alleged deprivation of rights.” Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th Cir. 1990); see also Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1338 (8th Cir. 1985) (claim not cognizable under § 1983 where plaintiff fails to allege defendant was personally involved in or directly responsible for incidents that injured plaintiff); Boyd v. Knox, 47 F.3d 966, 968 (8th Cir. 1995) (respondeat superior theory inapplicable in § 1983 suits). Supervisors cannot be held vicariously liable under § 1983 for the actions of a subordinate. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675-76 (2009).

         Because plaintiff has not alleged defendant Warden Godert was directly involved in his alleged constitutional violations, the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted as to this defendant. See Keeper v. King, 130 F.3d 1309, 1314 (8th Cir. 1997) (noting that general responsibility for supervising operations of prison is insufficient to establish personal involvement required to support liability under § 1983); Woods v. Goord, 1998 WL 740782, *6 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 23, 1998) (receiving letters or complaints does not render prison officials personally liable under § 1983). The Court will dismiss plaintiff's claims against defendant Warden Godert.

         (2) Defendant ...

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