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Bradley v. Scott County Detention Center

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

January 23, 2018

JOHN M. BRADLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff John M. Bradley 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 $8.80. 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 $44.00. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $8.80, 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 an inmate at the Scott County Detention Center. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Scott County Detention Center, Paxton Ayres, Wes Drury, Amy Johnson, Amy Commean, Scott Mezo, and Vance Raines. He states he sues the defendants in their official capacities. He seeks monetary relief in the amount of $50, 000.

         Plaintiff alleges that Scott County Detention Center violated his rights by denying him access to a prison law library and law books, including the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and this Court's Local Rules. He alleges that he sent requests and grievances to Paxton Ayres, Amy Johnson, Scott Mezo, Vance Rines, Amy Commean, and the Scott County Sheriff (defendant Wes Drury). Next, plaintiff alleges that his due process rights were violated because he "spent 46 days between arrest and arraignments." (Docket No. 1 at 5). Next, plaintiff alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because Amy Commean, whom plaintiff identifies as his public defender, "tried to get [him] to plea to 5 years D.O.C. with no motion of discovery, failed to explain process and state of my case or civil rights violations." Id. at 4-5. Finally, plaintiff writes: "No listing of jail rules or punishment, or grievance procedures." Id. at 5.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which was designed to provide a "broad remedy for violations of federally protected civil rights." Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 685 (1978). Section 1983 provides no substantive rights; it merely provides a remedy for violations of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the United States Constitution and federal laws. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983; see also Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (Section 1983 "merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred"). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must establish: (1) the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and (2) that the alleged deprivation of that right was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). With the foregoing in mind, the Court addresses the allegations in the complaint to determine whether they state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         Liberally construed, plaintiffs allegations against the Scott County Detention Center amount to a claim that he was denied access to the courts. Under the First Amendment, the freedom to petition includes the right of access to courts. See BE & K Const. Co. v. N.L.R.B.,536 U.S. 516, 525 (2002). The Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment makes the First Amendment applicable to the ...


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