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Barnett v. Lewis

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri

January 23, 2018

JASON LEWIS, et al., Defendants.



         Before the Court is plaintiff Brandon Barnett's amended complaint. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Southeast Correctional Center (“SECC”). After reviewing the amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court will require plaintiff to file an amended complaint on a court-provided form. Plaintiff's failure to do so in accordance with this Court's instructions will result in a dismissal of this action, without prejudice.

         Legal Standard

         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. A pleading that offers “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do, ” nor will a complaint suffice if it tenders bare assertions devoid of “further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         When conducting initial review pursuant to § 1915(e)(2), the Court must accept as true the allegations in the complaint, and must give the complaint the benefit of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the tenet that a court must accept the allegations as true does not apply to legal conclusions, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, and affording 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). Even pro se complaints are required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim for relief as a matter of law. Martin v. Aubuchon, 623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980); see also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004) (federal courts are not required to “assume facts that are not alleged, just because an additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger complaint”).


         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his civil rights during his incarceration at SECC.

         On January 5, 2018, the Court reviewed plaintiff's complaint pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915, and found that plaintiff's complaint failed to comply with Federal Rules of Procedure 8 and 10. It was long and rambling and listed over eighty (80) persons as defendants in this action. Moreover, plaintiff's complaint was extremely difficult to read, and plaintiff had not listed what claims he was bringing against each individual defendant. The Court also noted that plaintiff needed to amend his complaint to only include claims that arose out of the same transaction or occurrence, or, to put it another way, claims that are related to one another. See Fed.R.Civ.P.20(a)(2). Alternatively, plaintiff was told that he could choose one single defendant and set forth as many claims as he wished against that particular defendant.

         On January 18, 2018, plaintiff filed his amended complaint. Between the amended complaint and its supporting documentation, the document consisted of forty-one (41) pages. Additionally, plaintiff filed a supplemental amended complaint consisting of four (4) additional pages. Plaintiff's amended complaint listed forty-two (42) persons as defendants in this action. At the time of filing his amended complaint, plaintiff additionally filed a motion for extension for time to file “additional support” for his amended complaint. He further requested two more motions for appointment of counsel and a second motion to proceed in forma pauperis.[1] His new motion to proceed in forma pauperis will be denied as moot.

         Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

         The Court has reviewed plaintiff's amended complaint and once again finds that it does not comply with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8, 10, 18, 19 and 20.

         The gist of plaintiff's claims still appear to be claims of deliberate indifference to his medical needs, but they are buried in a long and rambling forty-six (46) page amended pleading. And plaintiff's handwriting is extremely challenging to read, making his assertions against the forty-two (42) named defendants even more problematic to discern.

         The Court recognizes that plaintiff has attempted to comply with Rules 8 and 10 by writing each defendant's name and then making claims against them. However, Rule 8(a) requires “a short and plain statement, ” and Rule 8(e) requires that “[e]ach averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct.” Plaintiff's long complaint is neither simple or concise or direct. And plaintiff needs to have paragraphs in his complaint to be in compliance with Rule 10, not just sentences that run into one another in a cramped space that make it difficult to discern one claim from another.

         However, plaintiff's biggest issue is his failure to comply with Federal ...

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