United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
CARLOS D. JOHNSON-BEY, Plaintiff,
MRS. CHILDREY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT
a prisoner, seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this
civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Having reviewed
plaintiff's financial information, the Court assesses a
partial initial filing fee of $8.30, which is a reasonable
amount based upon the information the Court has about
plaintiff's finances. See Henderson v. Norris,
129 F.3d 481, 484 (8th Cir. 1997). Furthermore, based upon a
review of the complaint, the Court finds that the complaint
should be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court is required to dismiss a
complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. To state a claim for relief, a complaint must plead
more than “legal conclusions” and
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action [that are] supported by mere conclusory
statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim
for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of
misconduct.” Id. at 679. “A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a
plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense. Id. at 679.
reviewing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the
Court accepts the well-pled facts as true. Furthermore, the
Court liberally construes the allegations.
Carlos D. Johnson-Bey, an prisoner at the St. Louis County
Justice Center, brings this § 1983 case alleging his
“constitutional rights under client attorney privilege
of confidentiality” have been violated by defendant
Mrs. Childrey. Plaintiff alleges that on numerous occasions,
his legal mail has been given to another inmate also named
Carlos Johnson-Bey. Plaintiff states that although this other
inmate shares plaintiff's first and last names, he has a
different middle name and a different inmate number.
Plaintiff's mail is eventually delivered to plaintiff,
but is resealed with scotch tape, presumably after the other
Carlos Johnson-Bey has opened it. For relief, plaintiff seeks
$100, 000.00 in damages.
names as his only defendant Mrs. Childrey, the director of
the St. Louis County Justice Center. Although plaintiff names
Mrs. Childrey as the defendant in the caption of his
complaint, plaintiff's statement of his claim does not
mention Mrs. Childrey. Plaintiff does not allege Mrs.
Childrey handles his mail. Assuming, for purposes of initial
review, that Mrs. Childrey is in charge of mail at the
Justice Center, plaintiff has not alleged Mrs. Childrey
purposefully mishandles his mail. Rather, he states his legal
mail is being delivered erroneously to another inmate with
plaintiff's same first and last names.
on the allegations of the complaint, the Court cannot find
any intentional act of Mrs. Childrey that is actionable under
§ 1983. At most, Mrs. Childrey is being negligent in
handling plaintiff's mail, which is not actionable as a
constitutional violation under § 1983. See Holden v.
Hirner, 663 F.3d 336, 341 (8th Cir. 2011) (holding that
negligence and even gross negligence do not rise to the level
of a constitutional violation). Furthermore, plaintiff has
not alleged he suffered any injury or harm arising out of the
negligent handling of his mail. See Haberthur v. City of
Raymore, Mo., 119 F.3d 720, 723 (8th Cir. 1997)
(“To state a claim . . . under section 1983,
[plaintiff's] complaint must allege that [a government
official's] acts caused a constitutional injury . . .
.”). Plaintiff has not alleged that Mrs. Childrey has
lost any of plaintiff's mail, nor does he allege he has
suffered any unreasonable delays in receiving his mail. While
the Court is sympathetic to plaintiff's frustration
regarding the handling of his mail, the Court does not find
his allegations state a plausible claim for relief under
§ 1983. Because plaintiff's allegations of
negligence do not rise to the level of a constitutional
violation and because he has alleged no injury, the Court
will dismiss his claims without prejudice under 28 U.S.C.
plaintiff attaches to his complaint a copy of a formal
grievance he filed with the Department of Justice Services
regarding his mail. In his grievance, plaintiff states that
the St. Louis County Justice Center's internal rules
require that “all legal mail must be opened in the
presence of the inmate.” Liberally construing
plaintiff's complaint as asserting a claim based on a
violation of this internal mail policy, the alleged violation
of an internal prison rule does not rise to the level of a
constitutional violation. See Phillips v. Norris,
320 F.3d 844, 847 (8th Cir. 2003); Gardner v.
Howard, 109 F.3d 427, 430 (8th Cir. 1997). For this
reason, this claim will also be dismissed for failure to
state a claim.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs motion
to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED.
[ECF No. 2]
IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff must pay an
initial filing fee of $8.30 within twenty-one (21) days of
the date of this Order. Plaintiff is instructed to make his
remittance payable to “Clerk, United States District
Court, ” and to include upon it: (1) his name; (2) his
prison registration number; (3) the case number; and (4) that
the remittance is for an original proceeding.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiffs complaint will be
DISMISSED without prejudice under ...