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Robinson v. Four Unknown Agents of FBI

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

April 16, 2018

TERRENCE ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
FOUR UNKNOWN AGENTS OF THE FBI, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JEAN C. HAMILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Terrence Robinson, an inmate at the St. Louis City Justice Center, 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 $7.44. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will direct plaintiff to file an amended 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 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 $37.21, and an average monthly balance of $17.98. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $7.44, 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 may be granted. An action is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted 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).

         “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw upon judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679. The court must assume the veracity of well-pleaded facts, but need not accept as true “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         This Court must liberally construe complaints filed by laypeople. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). This means that “if the essence of an allegation is discernible, ” the court should “construe the complaint in a way that permits the layperson's claim to be considered within the proper legal framework.” Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004)). However, even pro se complaints must 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). Federal courts are not required to assume facts that are not alleged, Stone, 364 F.3d at 914-15, nor are they required to interpret procedural rules so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).

         The Complaint

          Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against “Four Unknown Agents of the FBI, ” Detective James Thayer, and Agent Jon Lukowski. Plaintiff alternately indicates that the fictitious defendants are FBI agents and U.S. Marshals. He clearly indicates that defendant Thayer is employed by the FBI. He provides no employment information about defendant Lukowski. He states he sues the Four Unknown Agents of the FBI and Detective Thayer in their official and individual capacities. He does not specify the capacity in which he sues Agent Lukowski. He alleges as follows.

         On December 1, 2017, plaintiff was at a friend's house when he heard a knock at the door. He saw that the house was surrounded by U.S. Marshals. He opened the door, and surrendered to the U.S. Marshals. Plaintiff writes: “[A]pproximately 4 agents snatched me off the porch, and said officers slammed me into a rose bush with thorns protruding through the bush, therefore placing thorns in my face which were later removed . . . and they broke my ankle by stomping on it.” (Docket No. 1 at 3). Plaintiff states that “these agents saw that I was giving myself up and still used unnecessary force to try to subdue me when I was already subdued, and “these same agents broke my ankle and subjected me to cruel and unusual punishment.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that while he was “being apprehended one of the unknown officers was choking me.” Id. Plaintiff states he asked for the agents' names, but was not told. He states his constitutional rights were violated. He seeks $3.5 million in damages.

         Review of Missouri Case.net, the State of Missouri's online docketing system, shows that plaintiff is presently a defendant in the matter of State v. Terrence Robinson, No. 1722-CR04681-01 (22nd Jud. Cir. 2018), where he ...


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