United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
DOUGLAS E. DAYTON, Plaintiff,
RICHARD LISENBEE, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the motion of pro se
plaintiff Douglas E. Dayton to commence this civil action
without prepayment of the filing fee. (Docket No. 2). Upon
review of the motion, the Court finds that it should be
granted. Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the
Court must dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to
state a claim. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
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 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. Taber,
820 F.3d 958, 964 (8th Cir. 2016). 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 is not required
to “accept as true any legal conclusion couched as a
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).
times relevant to this complaint, plaintiff was a detainee
incarcerated at the Phelps County Jail in Rolla, Missouri.
(Docket No. 1 at 1-2). His complaint names Phelps County
Sheriff Richard Lisenbee and Lieutenant Matt Shults, the
Phelps County Jail Administrator, as defendants. (Docket No.
1 at 2). The defendants are sued in both their individual and
official capacities. Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that defendants acted under
color of law to deprive him of his rights secured by the
United States Constitution. (Docket No. 1 at 1).
alleges that he was brought to the Phelps County Jail on
December 5, 2014 and placed on a twenty-four hour hold.
(Docket No. 1 at 3). The following day, he was charged with
unlawful use of a weapon, a class D felony.
two weeks after being charged, plaintiff began asking the
staff at the Phelps County Jail about being taken to court
for arraignment. He was advised by staff that the jail did
not decide when plaintiff went to court. Rather, he would be
taken to his arraignment when the court called for him.
Despite this answer, plaintiff alleges that he “kept
asking about an arraignment for about another week or
two.” He states that he was told “over and
over” that it was up to the court to call down to the
jail. Plaintiff states that he eventually gave up on asking
about his arraignment. (Docket No. 1 at 4).
January 28, 2015, after fifty-three days of incarceration in
the Phelps County Jail, plaintiff was taken to his
arraignment. When he got to the courtroom, plaintiff asked
his attorney why it took so long for him to get arraigned.
His attorney advised plaintiff that “sometimes that
just happens.” Plaintiff notes that his attorney was
not concerned with his constitutional right to due process of
law. He also states that he pled not guilty at the
asserts that Missouri Revised Statute §
544.260 requires the accused to be arraigned as
soon as practicable, without unnecessary delay. He alleges
this statutory provision was violated. He also alleges that
being incarcerated in the Phelps County Jail for fifty-three
days violated his rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as the
seeks $500, 000 in actual damages and $100, 000 in punitive
damages. (Docket No. 1 at 5).
brings this § 1983 action against defendants Lisenbee
and Shults, alleging that they violated his constitutional
rights when plaintiff had to wait fifty-three days before
appearing for his arraignment. Having thoroughly reviewed and
liberally construed plaintiff's complaint, and for the