United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
JOHN J. SULLIVAN, Plaintiff,
BRADLEY BURD, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CRITES-LEONI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on pro se plaintiff John
J. Sullivan's amended complaint. After reviewing the
amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the
Court finds that the amended complaint again fails to state a
legally cognizable claim. The Court will require plaintiff to
file a second amended complaint on a court-provided form.
Plaintiff's failure to state a cognizable claim in his
second amended complaint will result in dismissal of this
action without prejudice.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to dismiss
a complaint filed in forma pauperis if the action is
frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. To state a claim under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim
for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of
misconduct.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
679 (2009). “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. The court must “accept as true the
facts alleged, but not legal conclusions or threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements.” Barton v. Tabor,
820 F.3d 958, 964 (8th Cir. 2016).
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”).
currently incarcerated at Farmington Correctional Center
(“FCC”), brings this action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Plaintiff's initial complaint focused on
four main alleged incidents or issues: (1) his treatment upon
arriving at FCC; (2) his treatment by guards when he had to
go to hospital in August 2018; (3) a threat from a FCC case
worker; and (4) a belief that his legal mail was being held
by FCC. It was not clear exactly who plaintiff intended to
name as defendants in his initial complaint or in what
capacity the defendants were being sued. Following the filing
of his complaint, plaintiff filed five additional letters
which elaborated on the same allegations raised in the
Court attempted to review plaintiff's complaint and
supplements pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28
U.S.C. § 1915. However, given the unconnected nature of
the allegations and the confusion on who plaintiff intended
to name as defendants, on January 16, 2019, the Court ordered
plaintiff to file an amended complaint. The Court stated that
it would review the amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915 for frivolousness, maliciousness and/or failure
to state a claim. On January 24, 2019, plaintiff filed
another supplement and on January 31, 2019, he filed an
names only one defendant in his amended complaint, Jenkins, a
correctional officer at FCC. He brings this suit against
Jenkins in both his individual and official capacities.
Plaintiff's amended complaint only mentions one of the
four incidents raised in his original complaint - the method
in which he was restrained for transport when he went to the
hospital in August 2018. Plaintiff describes how he was
transported to the hospital via ambulance with his left hand
chained to a rail and his feet chained together. At the
hospital he had an X-ray, some shots in his stomach, and was
put in a round tube (likely an MRI) with his hands chained
together over his head. When it was time to leave the
hospital “a man” arrived with a “Black
Box.” Plaintiff's hands and feet were
restrained with handcuffs, the black box, and a waist chain.
According to plaintiff, there was no handle or foot stool to
help him get into the van for transport back to FCC.
Plaintiff asserts that he fell two or three times and it took
him five to six tries to get into the van. He was finally
able to crawl in on his knees and elbows.
result of his difficulties getting into the van due to the
black box, plaintiff suffered injuries to his right hand and
left wrist. As of January 2019 (approximately five months
after the incident), plaintiff alleges that his left wrist is
still bruised and painful. He says that he had an x-ray of
his wrist in December that showed results within
“acceptable limits.” However, plaintiff says the
pain is getting worse and he wants to see a specialist.
to plaintiff, correctional officer Jenkins was at the prison
gate upon his return to FCC from the hospital. He alleges
Jenkins wanted to “make sure [he] was in the Black
Box.” Plaintiff asserts that Jenkins ordered that the
Black Box be used on him. Plaintiff seeks two million dollars
brings his amended complaint against defendant Jenkins in
both his official and individual capacities. To state a claim
against a prison employee like Jenkins in his official
capacity, plaintiff must allege that a policy or custom of
Jenkins' employer was responsible for the alleged
constitutional violation. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). Plaintiff's
amended complaint does not specifically mention a policy or
custom. Liberally construing plaintiff's pro se
complaint, however, the Court discerns that plaintiff
complains about an alleged prison policy of using a black box
restraint when transporting prisoners outside the prison.