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Houston v. Corizon Health, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri

February 28, 2018

NEAL HOUSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
CORIZON HEALTH, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOHN A. ROSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on plaintiff Neal Houston's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Docket No. 8/filed November 20, 2017).[1] 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 $3.25. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). In addition, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         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.

         Plaintiff has submitted a certified inmate account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint, showing an average monthly deposit of $16.25, and an average monthly balance of $7.37. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $3.25, which is twenty percent of plaintiff s average monthly deposit.

         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 Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Corizon Health, Inc., Dr. William McKinney, Diane Larkins (Health Services Administrator employed by Corizon), and nurses Kate Tyler and Todd Renshaw.

         Plaintiff avers that he was placed in the Enhanced Care Unit ("ECU") because he needed daily living assistance after having leg surgery. He describes the ECU as a unit for disabled offenders and others who have difficulty performing activities of daily life.

         Plaintiff alleges that defendant Dr. McKinney failed to inform him that he was borderline diabetic, and that he had to learn this news from a psychiatrist. He also alleges that Dr. McKinney told him he had to buy his own ointment to treat dry skin that resulted from the surgery. He alleges that defendants Renshaw and Tyler ordered him transferred from the ECU after he complained about nursing practices, and that as a result, he has no "wheelchair pusher." (Docket No. 1 at 8).

         Plaintiff alleges that he has not been permitted a follow-up visit with the doctor who performed his leg surgery, has not been sent to see a specialist, and was not given an ultrasound per his request. He also claims that the medical treatment he has been provided is inconsistent with his treating physician's recommendations or treatment plan. He states he is being given blood thinners as a means to frustrate his treating physician's recommendations. He claims that Corizon "maintains a policy, practice or custom of deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of inmates by denying or delaying medical treatment and referral to appropriate Specialists." Id. at 7. Plaintiff also claims that members of the medical staff have ...


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