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Curtis v. Federal Bureau of Investigation

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

May 30, 2018




         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Dustin Patrick Curtis, a prisoner, for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the required filing fee. The Court will grant the motion, and assess an initial partial filing fee of $40.00. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). In addition, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss this case.

         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 for the months of January and February, showing an average monthly deposit of $200.00 and an average monthly balance of $112.59. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $40.00, 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, 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 factually frivolous if the facts alleged are “clearly baseless.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992). Allegations are clearly baseless if they are “fanciful, ” “delusional, ” or “fantastic.” Id.

         When reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2), the Court must give it the benefit of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, even pro se complaints are required to 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 Complaint

         Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at the St. Charles County Justice Center. He brings this action pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Privacy Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Stored Communications Act, the Federal Wiretapping Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, and state tort law against the following defendants: the Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Unknown FBI Agents, ” the United States of America, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and “Unknown IL Police.”

         Review of the State of Missouri's online docketing system shows that plaintiff is a defendant in a criminal case currently pending in the circuit court for St. Charles County, where he is facing charges of kidnapping, rape or attempted rape, domestic assault, and unlawful use of a weapon. See State v. Dustin Patrick Curtis, No. 1811-CR00257-01 (11th Jud. Cir. 2018).

         All of plaintiff's claims for relief stem from a bizarre series of events that began in 2016 and continued until he was arrested on January 20, 2018. Plaintiff's allegations are as follows.

         In June or July of 2016, plaintiff noticed that a brown SUV was parked behind his house every day. Then, other vehicles began following him everywhere he went, including to the mall, to visit family and friends, and to church. Plaintiff came to realize that he was being constantly surveilled by FBI agents. On different occasions, plaintiff confronted the agents or snuck up on them, but they would never give him any information. One day, plaintiff went to the “local police” to ask them why the FBI was following him, and “they looked my name up in some sort of shared law enforcement database, and then told me, ‘there's nothing we can do, Mr. Curtis. It's not us, trust me. This ‘thing' is bigger than us, and it's out of our hands.'” (Docket No. 1 at 5-6).

         Around September or October of 2016, the FBI also began intercepting plaintiff's telephone calls, placing “electronic bugs” in his home, and placing GPS tracking devices on his vehicles. Id. at 6. Plaintiff used his phone to photograph the FBI agents as they followed him, but when he went to ...

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