United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
COREY D. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
STEVE PELTON, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Corey
D. Taylor 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 will grant the motion, and assess an initial
partial filing fee of $1.00. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(b)(1). In addition, for the reasons discussed below, the
Court will dismiss the complaint, without prejudice
U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)
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.
has not submitted a prison account statement. As a result,
the Court will require plaintiff to pay an initial partial
filing fee of $1.00. See Henderson v. Norris, 129
F.3d 481, 484 (8th Cir. 1997) (when a prisoner is unable to
provide the Court with a certified copy of his prison account
statement, the Court should assess an amount "that is
reasonable, based on whatever information the court has about
the prisoner's finances"). If plaintiff is unable to
pay the initial partial filing fee, he must submit a copy of
his prison account statement in support of his claim.
Standard on Initial Review
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).
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.
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.
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).
is an inmate at the Franklin County Adult Detention Facility,
in Union, Missouri. He brings this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §1983 against Sheriff Steve Pelton and the
Franklin County Jail. Plaintiff is suing both the sheriff and
the jail in their official capacities.
complaint brings forth a number of alleged violations of his
constitutional rights. With three exceptions, the claims are
not numbered, but are given in a narrative fashion. Plaintiff
first alleges that a grand jury has found the Franklin County
Jail noncompliant with industry standards, and that it houses
more prisoners than it was designed to hold. (Docket No. 1 at
4). He claims that inmates are housed in dorm-style housing,
with individual cells designed to hold only one inmate.
Id. However, two to three inmates are being housed
in the single-person cells. Id. Moreover, in cells
designed to hold six inmates on bunk beds, the cells have
been "maxed out" with inmates sleeping on the floor
and "even [b]y the toilet and under the [b]unks."
Id. Plaintiff states that he is being made to share
a one-person cell with a second inmate. (Docket No. 8 at 1).
Plaintiff also claims that the security system used to
"operate doors is out of date and parts are no longer
manufactured." (Docket No. 1 at 4). Further, plaintiff
states there is only one room for attorney/clergy visits, and
that when it is occupied, others are turned away.
plaintiff alleges that the language used by deputies is
"very [n]egative and [disrespectful." (Docket No. 1
at 5). He states that the jail is very unsanitary.
Id. He claims that the food quantity is below the
average amount required. Id. He alleges that he has
been served "cold trays" for dinner, consisting of
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or two-meat sandwiches.
(Docket No. 8 at 2). He also alleges that the medical care is
very poor, and the price to receive that care is too high.
(Docket No. 1 at 5; Docket No. 9 at 2).
further claims that inmates are strip searched and
"[d]uring the process you are told to squat and [g]rab
your [b]uttocks and cough." (Docket No. 1 at 5). He
states that African-Americans are discriminated against in
the facility. Id. He also alleges that the grievance
process is inadequate in that it is conducted by the deputies
themselves and always goes against the inmates; that there is
no proper administrative remedy procedure; and that
there's "[n]o actual way to file any complaint
against any [m]isconduct against any Deputy at this
facility." Id. Further, plaintiff claims that
the law library is twenty years out-of-date. Id.
also makes allegations regarding improper use of force
against him. Id. Plaintiff alleges that a white
inmate called him racist names, but that nothing was done to
him. Id. However, when plaintiff "hollered
[b]ack" at him, he was "attacked" by a
sergeant identified as Sergeant Ashkar. Id.
Plaintiff says he was choked, struck with a closed fist,
pepper sprayed, and had a Taser used against him.
Id. Moreover, a week later, plaintiff states that
Sergeant Ashkar "harassed" him by coming to his
cell at midnight, fingerprinting him, and informing plaintiff
he was being charged with aggravated assault, even though
plaintiff says that Sergeant Ashkar admitted that plaintiff
did not assault anyone. Id. Plaintiff further claims
that he was illegally forced to give a DNA sample against his
will. Id. He states that he was informed that he
would not be released from custody, even if allowed by the
judge, if he did not provide the sample. Id.
separate letter included with the complaint, plaintiff makes
a number of other allegations, mostly concerning the
performance Judge David L. Hoven and plaintiffs attorney
Zachary Rennick. (Docket No. 1 at 6). Specifically, plaintiff
states that Judge Hoven has been biased by holding him in
custody and not reducing his bond. Id. Judge Hoven
ordered plaintiff to undergo a pretrial assessment, but
plaintiff insists that this assessment has not been take into
consideration at his bond reviews. Id. Plaintiff
alleges that Judge Hoven's rulings are based on racial
animus, and that other inmates, mainly whites, receive more
favorable rulings. Id. Plaintiff also states that
police in St. Clair "[b]rutalized" him.
Id. He alleges that the police slammed him to the
floor when he refused to get off the phone with his attorney.
(Docket No. 1 at 6-7). Finally, plaintiff claims that his
attorney has been "very [ineffective and
discussed above, plaintiffs complaint brings forth a number
of different claims. Having carefully reviewed and liberally
construed plaintiffs allegations, the Court must dismiss
plaintiffs claims without prejudice for failure to state a
claim or frivolity under § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Defendant Steve Pelton, Sheriff of Franklin County,
claims against Sheriff Pelton acting in his official capacity
must be dismissed. A suit brought against a state official in
his or her official capacity pursuant to § 1983 is not a
suit against the official, but rather a suit against the
official's office. Will v. Michigan Dep't of
State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Accordingly, an
official-capacity suit generally represents a "way of
pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is
an agent." Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159,
165 (1985). In other words, the real party in interest in an
official-capacity suit is not the named official, but the
governmental entity. Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25
(1991). Under § 1983, a governmental entity is only
liable when it is the "moving force" behind the
deprivation. Kentucky, 473 U.S. at 166. Further,
"the entity's policy or custom must have played a
part in the violation." Hafer, 502 U.S. at 25.
official-capacity claim against Sheriff Pelton must be
treated as a claim against the Franklin County Sheriffs
Office. A sheriffs office, as a department or subdivision of
local government, is not an entity subject to suit. See
Ketchum v. City of West Memphis, Ark,974 F.2d 81, 82
(1992) (departments or subdivisions of local government are
"not juridical entities suable as such"). Even if
the Court were to construe the complaint as brought against
the municipality and substitute it as defendant, the
complaint still fails to state a claim of municipal liability
because plaintiff has not alleged any facts linking the