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Barnes v. Oliver

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

July 3, 2018

NATHAN R. BARNES, Plaintiff,
RUSSELL D. OLIVER, et al., Defendants.



         This matter comes before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Nathan R. Barnes for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the required filing fee. (Docket No. 2). Having reviewed the motion and the financial information submitted in support, the Court has determined that plaintiff lacks sufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee, and will assess an initial partial filing fee of $5.73. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss plaintiff's complaint without prejudice.

         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 or her 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 the 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 affidavit and a certified inmate account statement. (Docket No. 4). The certified inmate account statement showed an average monthly balance of $28.63. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $5.73, which is 20 percent of plaintiff's average monthly balance for the prior six month period.

         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, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 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 upon judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.

         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). A “liberal construction” means that if the essence of an allegation is discernible, the district court should construe the plaintiff's complaint in a way that permits his or her claim to be considered within the proper legal framework. Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015). 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). See also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004) (stating that federal courts are not required to “assume facts that are not alleged, just because an additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger complaint”). In addition, affording a pro se complaint the benefit of a liberal construction does not mean that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation must be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff is currently an inmate at Cape Girardeau County Jail. He brings this complaint pursuant to § 1983. His complaint names prosecuting attorney Russell D. Oliver and Stoddard County Sheriff Carl Hefner as defendants. The defendants are sued in both their individual and official capacities.

         Plaintiff's “statement of claim” consists of a one-and-a-half page narrative. Plaintiff states that Officer Tim Zych conducted an investigation against him for “Class A child molestation in the 1st Degree.” (Docket No. 1 at 4). He alleges that Officer Zych did not follow protocol for a probable cause warrant. He also states that defendant Russell Oliver filed the charges against him.[1]

         Plaintiff states that an attorney named Amanda Altman had a “closed meeting” with defendant Oliver. He alleges that during this meeting, Oliver stated that he “did not have a case against” plaintiff. He further alleges that Oliver told Altman that the “evidence hearing does not show enough cause.” Plaintiff states that Oliver uses “crooked tactics” and that other individuals have had conflicts with him.

         Plaintiff asserts that a forensic examination of his alleged victim was inconclusive. He states that due to the charges against him, he has lost his wife, children, possessions, and job. He also states that during his incarceration at Stoddard County Jail, he was assaulted by other inmates, had urine and feces thrown at him, and had to pay money to keep from being assaulted, all on account of the “style of charges” against him. (Docket No. 1 at 5).

         Plaintiff alleges that Sheriff Hefner “is responsible for properly training law enforcement and the facts of this case clearly show the arresting officer did not perform his duties to the full extent.” He also alleges that Oliver is ...

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