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Dewalt v. Brauner

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

February 19, 2019

RODERICK DEWALT, Plaintiff,
v.
PATRICK BRAUNER, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JEAN C. HAMILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Roderick Dewalt, a prisoner, for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the required filing fee. Having reviewed the motion and the financial information submitted in support, the Court has determined to grant the motion, and assess an initial partial filing fee of $188.90. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will give plaintiff the opportunity to file an amended complaint.

         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 a certified inmate account statement showing an average monthly deposit of $83.08, and an average monthly balance of $944.52. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $188.90, which is twenty percent of his average monthly balance.

         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. 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 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).

         “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The court must assume the veracity of well-pleaded facts, but need not accept as true “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555); 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.”).

         Pro se complaints must be liberally construed. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). This means that if the essence of an allegation is discernible, the court should construe the complaint in a way that permits the plaintiff's claim to be construed within the proper legal framework. Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015). However, even pro se complaints 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). 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). Additionally, giving a pro se complaint the benefit of a liberal construction does not mean that procedural rules 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 brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against 17 defendants: Patrick Brauner, Officer Unknown Batiste, Officer Unknown Cain, Officer Unknown Evans, Frederick Knapp, John Does 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, Adam Randazzo, Officer Unknown Eckhoff, Diana Larkin, Marah Nickelson, and Cindy Griffith.

         Plaintiff sets forth a myriad of unrelated claims against the defendants, including excessive force, claims involving the prison grievance procedure, and denial of medical care. The events giving rise to plaintiff's claims occurred at different prison facilities from December of 2016 through, apparently, the date plaintiff filed the complaint.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff presents a case involving multiple unrelated claims against not one but 17 defendants. This is an impermissible pleading practice. Rule 20(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of ...


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