United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
LARRY E. JONES, JR., Plaintiff,
NICHOLAS VAETH, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on the motion of plaintiff
Larry E. Jones, Jr. 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
not assess an initial filing fee at this time. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons
discussed below, the Court will dismiss plaintiff's
complaint without prejudice as to defendant Ste. Genevieve
Sheriff's Department, and will stay plaintiff's
action against defendant Matt Ballew until final disposition
of plaintiff's pending criminal action.
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 submitted a certified inmate account statement. (Docket
No. 3). The statement shows a starting balance of zero, that
plaintiff has made no deposits, and that he currently has a
negative account balance. As a result, the Court will not
require plaintiff to file an initial partial filing fee at
this time. See Henderson v. Norris, 129 F.3d 481,
484 (8th Cir. 1997). See also 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(b)(4) (stating that a prisoner shall not be
prohibited from bringing a civil action for the reason the
prisoner has “no means by which to pay the initial
partial filing fee”).
Standard on Initial Review
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). See also Brown v. Green Tree
Servicing LLC, 820 F.3d 371, 372-73 (8th Cir.
2016) (stating that court must accept factual allegations in
complaint as true, but “does not accept as true any
legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation”). A
plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief,
which is more than a “mere possibility of
misconduct.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. 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.
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) (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).
is a pretrial detainee at the St. Louis County Jail. He
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
law enforcement officer Matt Ballew and the Ste. Genevieve
Sheriff's Department. Defendant Ballew is sued in both
his individual and official capacities, and the Ste.
Genevieve Sheriff's Department is sued in its official
complaint states that on February 20, defendant Ballew,
acting in his capacity as an officer of the Ste. Genevieve
Sheriff's Department, crossed the state line into
Cahokia, Illinois, and entered the house of plaintiff's
sister-in-law. (Docket No. 1 at 3). Plaintiff alleges that
Ballew entered his sister-in-law's residence without a
search warrant or permission or with any Illinois law
enforcement on the scene. He states that Ballew handcuffed
him at gunpoint and forced him out of the residence. He also
alleges that Ballew reentered the sister-in-law's
residence without permission or a search warrant and took
property that was located therein.
states that all these events took place in Cahokia, Illinois,
and that Ballew is employed by the Ste. Genevieve
Sheriff's Department, in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. He
alleges that Ballew's actions demonstrate that he is
“guilty” of “home invasion, ”
“unlawful restraint, ” and
“kidnapping.” (Docket No. 1 at 4). He states that
Ballew's actions were criminal and violated his civil
rights. He also alleges that the Ste. Genevieve Sheriff's
Department is responsible for Ballew's “criminal
conduct” and his violation of plaintiff's civil
further alleges that his left hand was re-broken by Ballew
when Ballew handcuffed him. He notes that his hand was
x-rayed at the St. Louis County Jail and placed into a half
cast. However, plaintiff alleges that due to his hand being
re-broken, it is healing abnormally and causing him pain.
Plaintiff seeks $500, 000 in damages.
complaint alleges that defendant Ballew violated his
constitutional rights by crossing into Illinois, entering the
residence of plaintiff's sister-in-law without a warrant,
and unlawfully arresting him. The complaint alleges that
Ballew's employer, the Ste. Genevieve Sheriff's
Department, is responsible for plaintiff's conduct.
Having carefully reviewed and liberally construed
plaintiff's allegations, and for the reasons discussed
below, the Court must dismiss plaintiff's claims against
the Ste. Genevieve Sheriff's Department pursuant to
§ 1915(e)(2)(B). ...