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Smith v. Green

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

May 1, 2018

NICOLE GREEN, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court upon review of the second amended complaint filed by plaintiff Christopher Gerald Smith, proceeding herein pro se and in forma pauperis. For the reasons explained below, the Clerk of Court will be directed to serve process upon the second amended complaint as to Dunklin County, Bob Holder, Nicole Green, Ashley Grisham, and Jimmy Smith, and defendants Melissa Unknown, Marisha Unknown, Steve Unknown, Unknown Pierce, B. Tinsley, Brandon Perkins, Mallory Snow, Joe Nelson, Ruby Lopez, Kyle Simms, and Daniel Hobbs will be dismissed.


         Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee at the Dunklin County Justice Center (also "jail"), initiated this case on September 1, 21017 by filing a complaint against the Dunklin County Justice Center, Ashley Green, Nicole Green, Bob Holder, Unknown Pewitt, and Jimmy Smith. He sought and was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and the Court reviewed his complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). Upon initial review, the Court noted that the complaint was subject to dismissal because plaintiff failed to allege facts tending to show how any of the named defendants were personally responsible for violating his rights. In consideration of plaintiffs pro se status, the Court permitted plaintiff the opportunity to file an amended complaint. In so doing, the Court explained why the complaint was subject to dismissal, clearly explained the necessity of alleging facts showing how each named defendant was responsible for the alleged harm, and expressly stated that the failure to make specific factual allegations against a defendant would result in the dismissal of that defendant. In response, plaintiff filed an amended complaint, and then filed a second amended complaint, which this Court now reviews pursuant to28U.S.C. § 1915(e).

         Legal Standard on Initial Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it 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). 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). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can 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).

         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, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (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 678. Second, the Court must determine whether the complaint states a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 679. This is a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

         The plaintiff is required to plead facts that show more than the "mere possibility of misconduct." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. The Court must review the factual allegations in the complaint "to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief." Id. at 681. 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 680-82.

         Pro se complaints are to be liberally construed, Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976), but they still 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). The Court must weigh all factual allegations in favor of the plaintiff, unless the facts alleged are clearly baseless. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992). 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 v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004).


         Plaintiff has filed the second amended complaint against Nicole Green (Jail Administrator), Bob Holder (Sheriff), Jimmy Smith (Lead Supervisor), Ashley Grisham (Nurse), [2] and Dunklin County, and corrections officers B. Tinsley, Joe Nelson, Ruby Lopez, Kyle Simms, Brandon Perkins, Mallory Snow, Daniel Hobbs, Marisha Unknown, Melissa Unknown, Steve Unknown, and Unknown Pierce. He states he sues the defendants in an individual and official capacity.

         According to the second amended complaint, plaintiff suffers from uncontrolled diabetes, and as a result, is prone to break out in cold sweats and lose consciousness. Upon arrival at the jail, he was housed in "H pod, " which had a handicap-accessible shower stall. However, Holder and Green ordered the maintenance technician to turn off its water supply, and Holder, Green, and Smith refused to turn the water back on. This left plaintiff with no choice but to use the non-accessible shower stall. On several occasions, while showering, plaintiff became dizzy, fell, and hit his head.

         Plaintiff filed grievances about this and other matters. In retaliation, Green and Grisham ordered plaintiff repeatedly moved throughout the jail, including to an isolation cell where he was kept locked down. Smith, Green and Holder also placed plaintiff in administrative segregation without notice, an opportunity to be heard, or periodic reviews. Dunklin County had policies that led to plaintiffs injuries.

         Liberally construed, the second amended complaint states a viable claim under the ADA and the RA[3] against Dunklin County, and against Holder, Green, and Smith in their official capacities. The second amended complaint also contains sufficient allegations to demonstrate unconstitutional retaliation against Green and Grisham, that Green, Smith and Holder placed him in administrative segregation without due process, and to demonstrate that the county had a policy leading to ...

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