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Cornelius v. Holder

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

April 19, 2018

BOB HOLDER, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court upon review of the amended complaint. After reviewing the amended complaint, the Court will partially dismiss the amended complaint and will order the Clerk to issue process or cause process to be issued on the non-frivolous portions of the amended complaint.

         28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. An action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989); Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). An action is malicious if it is undertaken for the purpose of harassing the named defendants and not for the purpose of vindicating a cognizable right. Spencer v. Rhodes, 656 F.Supp. 458, 461-63 (E.D. N.C. 1987), aff'd 826 F.2d 1059 (4th Cir. 1987). A complaint fails to state a claim 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).

         To determine whether an action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must engage in a two-step inquiry. First, the Court must identify the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950-51 (2009). These include "legal conclusions" and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements." Id. at 1949. Second, the Court must determine whether the complaint states a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 1950-51. This is a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 1950. The plaintiff is required to plead facts that show more than the "mere possibility of misconduct." Id. The Court must review the factual allegations in the complaint "to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief." Id. at 1951. When faced with alternative explanations for the alleged misconduct, the Court may exercise its judgment in determining whether plaintiffs proffered conclusion is the most plausible or whether it is more likely that no misconduct occurred. Id. at 1950, 1951-52.

         The Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff, Esley D. Cornelius, III, an inmate currently incarcerated at Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center ("ERDCC"), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his civil rights during his pretrial incarceration at the Dunklin County Jail.

         Plaintiff names as defendants in this action: Bob Holder (Sheriff, Dunklin County); Tasha Nicole Green (Dunklin County Jail Administrator); Ariel Doe; Alicia Doe; and Dunklin County Officer Jane Does 1-2 and John Does 1-2. Plaintiff brings this action against defendants in their official and individual capacities.

         Plaintiff asserts that between the dates of September 22, 2012 and September 26, 2012, he was detained at Dunklin County Jail. He claims that he was "severely beaten" by another inmate[1] in E-Pod at the Jail right in front of Dunklin County Jail Officer Ariel Doe and two other Jane Doe Correctional Officers.[2] Plaintiff asserts that the assault occurred in front of the staff office where officers monitored the security cameras at "all times." He states that these officers failed to properly intervene in the assault on plaintiff, and as a result, his jaw was broken in the incident, and he had to be transported to the local hospital for treatment. Plaintiff states, in a conclusory manner, that defendants lacked "training and supervision" in dealing with the assault by the other inmate. He claims that the "bubble officers, " presumably Jane Does 1-2 and Ariel Doe and Alicia Doe, should have been able to break up the assault, but instead they continued to watch the inmate beat plaintiff from two feet away.

         Plaintiff alleges that the local hospital believed that his injuries were "too severe, " and he was then taken to Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis for treatment by Sheriff Bob Holder and two John Doe Correctional Officers.

         Plaintiff claims he was at Barnes Jewish Hospital from September 22, 2012 until September 24, 2012, until he was asked if he had insurance. Plaintiff states that the correctional officers guarding him spoke to Jail Administrator Nicole Green on the phone about the insurance matter and thereafter he was told by the two John Doe Correctional Officers that they were leaving the hospital without having his jaw fixed. Plaintiff believes that Nicole Green and Bob Holder did not let Barnes Jewish Hospital treat him for his broken jaw, but instead brought him back to the Jail without obtaining treatment.

         Plaintiff claims that when he returned to Dunklin County Jail on the evening of September 24, 2012, he was placed in a single holding cell where he was "neglected."[3] He was purportedly still suffering from a broken jaw, which he claims was infected, and was not being fed correctly, and was only sleeping on a mattress. Plaintiff alleges that his mother hired a local attorney to work with the prosecutor to lower his bond to have him released from custody in order to have him returned to Barnes Jewish Hospital to have his jaw surgery done under his own medical insurance. Plaintiff claims he had to have titanium plates placed in his lower jaw in order to fix his injury.

         Plaintiff asserts that the defendant correctional officers failed to protect him from an attack from the other inmate in violation of the Eighth Amendment, which resulted in a serious physical injury to his jaw. He also claims that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Fourteenth and Eighth Amendment in that they failed to get him proper treatment for his jaw and then delayed the treatment when they did not want to pay for the jaw surgery at Barnes Jewish Hospital.

         Plaintiff also brings a failure to train/supervise claim against Bob Holder and Nicole ...

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