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Krauss v. Holcomb

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

March 9, 2018

JAY HOLCOMB, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Paul Wayne Krauss, an inmate at the Mississippi County Detention Center, for leave to commence this 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 $13.16. 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 deposit of $37.73, and an average monthly balance of $65.83. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $13.16, 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 a pretrial detainee at the Mississippi County Detention Center. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Officer Jay Holcomb, and the Mississippi County Detention Center. He states he sues Holcomb in an official and individual capacity.

         According to the complaint, plaintiff was arrested in October of 2017 and detained in the Mississippi County Detention Center. His personal property was taken and sealed into a bag, and placed in the property room. Plaintiff learned that a search warrant had been executed at his home. Plaintiff does not describe what, if anything, was recovered during the search.

         Plaintiff alleges that the search warrant was invalid because there was "no court seal on it to make it a legal document of the Court, " and that because he was in custody when the warrant was executed, the search should have been conducted in front of him. (Docket No. 1, Attch. 2, p. 1). Next, plaintiff alleges that "after Officer Jay Holcomb finished searching my home" he came to the Detention Center and, along with a guard, took plaintiffs cell phone from the property room. Id. at 2. Plaintiff alleges that he had difficulty filing a complaint at the Detention Center over the loss of the phone. Plaintiff does not allege that Holcomb accessed or recovered anything from the cell phone.

         Plaintiff next alleges that Holcomb called the Detention Center and "had Mr. Edward Lee come to my pod and threaten me over my phone which is entirely unethical and completely unprofessional." Id. Plaintiff also states that the search warrant was obtained on hearsay, he was charged with a Class D felony of possession of a controlled substance even though drugs were not covered by the search warrant, he was served with an arrest warrant that was invalid because it lacked a court seal, and his bond was excessive.

         As relief, plaintiff asks that "full charges be pursued." (Docket No. 1 at 6). He also seeks $89.99 to compensate him for the loss of his cell phone, $52, 000 in ...

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