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Adams v. City of St. Louis

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

May 21, 2018

MARLON ADAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF ST. LOUIS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CATHERINE D. PERRY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court upon review of the amended complaint filed by plaintiff Marlon Adams. Due to deficiencies in the original complaint, the Court previously directed plaintiff to file an amended complaint within twenty-one days. Plaintiff has duly filed an amended complaint. However, many of the same deficiencies in the original complaint remain in the amended complaint. Therefore, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will direct plaintiff to file a second amended complaint.

         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 plaintiff's 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).

         Background

         Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at St. Charles County Correctional Center in St. Charles, Missouri. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his civil rights. The Court previously granted plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Docket No. 5). The Court also directed plaintiff to file an amended complaint that separately numbered each of his claims, and that identified the defendant allegedly responsible for each claim. Id. The Court noted that it would not be sufficient for plaintiff to list a group of defendants and say they violated his rights.

         On January 22, 2018, plaintiff filed an amended complaint alleging a number of unconstitutional conditions of confinement while he was incarcerated at the St. Louis Medium Security Institution (“MSI”) from March to August, 2017. (Docket No. 6). He identified twelve individual defendants by name: Captain Irene Mitchell, Captain Ervins, Captain Diggs, Major Russell Brown, Chief Investigator Gary Hayes, Lieutenant Lindsey, Lieutenant Benjamin, Lieutenant M. Butler, Officer T. Roberts, Officer I. Griffen, Commissioner Dale Glass, and Superintendent Jeffrey Carson.[1] All the named defendants are employees of MSI. Plaintiff also names “Unknown Captains” and “Unknown Lieutenants” as defendants, as well as the City of St. Louis. The defendants are named in both their individual and official capacities.

         The Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff's amended complaint is comprised of thirty-seven numbered paragraphs. He begins listing his claims in paragraph 17, wherein he states that he is a pretrial detainee who had been housed at MSI. Plaintiff states that when he arrived at MSI, he observed “bloody panties and underwear stained with fecal matter, all over the booking area.” (Docket No. 6 at 6). He also states that there was “black mold/fungus” caked on the walls, and “mold/fungus” falling from the ceiling. Plaintiff alleges these conditions made it difficult for him to breathe.

         In paragraph 18, plaintiff says that after booking he was transferred to D Dorm. He alleges that the conditions of D Dorm were similar to booking, in that there was “bloody underwear strewn everywhere” and black mold and fungus on the walls. (Docket No. 6 at 6). Plaintiff claims he also noticed rats, roaches, and pests running over the floor. Plaintiff alleges in paragraph 18 that defendants Mitchell, Ervins, Diggs, Brown, Hayes, Lindsey, Benjamin, Butler, Roberts, and Griffen refused to ensure that inmates received cleaning supplies.

         In paragraph 19, plaintiff alleges that all of the individual defendants were responsible for ensuring inmates were provided three “nutritious and edible meals per day, ” cleaning supplies, clothing, clean drinking water, appropriate temperatures, exercise, and reasonable safety. (Docket No. 6 at 6). He alleges that defendant Glass was responsible for overall administration of MSI, including making and enforcing facility policies, dealing with budgetary issues, and ensuring that inmates received proper meals, clothing, cleaning supplies, adequate shelter, and safety. Plaintiff alleges that defendant Carson was directly below defendant Glass in rank. Plaintiff states that defendant Carson was responsible for handling grievances, as well as ensuring inmates were provided appropriate meals, clothing, cleaning supplies, adequate shelter, and safety. Plaintiff also alleges that defendant Carson delegates these duties to defendants Mitchell, Ervins, Diggs, Brown, and “all of the Lieutenants, Captains, and Officers.” He further alleges that ...


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