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Johns v. Corrections Medicine

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

March 22, 2019

BRENT J. JOHNS, Plaintiff,
CORRECTIONS MEDICINE, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Brent J. Johns, 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 $7.96. In addition, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss the 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 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 an inmate account statement showing an average monthly deposit of $32.59, and an average monthly balance of $39.80.[1] The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $7.96, which is twenty percent of plaintiff's 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). 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 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).

         This Court must liberally construe complaints filed by laypeople. 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 layperson's claim to be considered within the proper legal framework.” Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004)). 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, Stone, 364 F.3d at 914-15, nor are they required to interpret procedural rules 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 filed this action on March 14, 2018 against defendants Corrections Medicine, “St. Louis County Jail Administration, ” Unknown Dentist, Unknown Nursing Staff, Herbert Bernsen, and Kenneth Reed. At the time plaintiff filed the complaint, he was a detainee at the St. Louis County Jail. However, at present, he is an inmate at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (“ERDCC”). He states he sues the defendants in an official and individual capacity.

         Plaintiff states he has been detained since March 3, 2017, and has been denied dental care by “Corrections Medicine Staff” despite three dental sick call requests being turned in to the “morning nurses.” (Docket No. 1 at 5). Plaintiff filed two grievances, gave them to “jail staff, ” and requested copies. Id. However, plaintiff “[has] yet to receive copies, responses or dental care due to obvious deliberate indifference by both Jail Administration and (unknown names) and Corrections Medicine staff I was caused both serious physical injury and harm to mental health.” Id. Plaintiff also states he was “shown a deliberate indifference” by “Medical Staff causing further serious physical pain, mental and emotional anguish.” Id. at 6. Plaintiff states that “Corrections Medicine Staff, Corrections Medicine Dentist and St. Louis County Department of Justice administration” violated his rights. Id. He states “the deliberate indifference by Jail Admin by the failure to respond and failure to act or intervene by St. Louis Co. Dept. of Justice services to alert Corrections Medicine staff of my grievances resulted in serious physical injury and mental and emotional anguish” in violation of his constitutional rights. Id. at 6. He states that “Jail administration failed to train its officer that showed deliberate indifference to my grievances for not getting dental work, ” in violation of his constitutional rights. Id. As relief, plaintiff states that he wants unspecified dental work done, a letter of apology, and actual and punitive damages.


         The complaint will be dismissed, without prejudice. Plaintiff fails to state a claim for relief against Herbert Bernsen and Kenneth Reed because he merely lists their names as defendants without alleging they engaged in any specific act or conduct. See Potter v. Clark, 497 F.2d 1206, 1207 (7th Cir. 1974) (“Where a complaint alleges no specific act or conduct on the part of the defendant and the complaint is silent as to the defendant except for his name appearing in the caption, the complaint is properly dismissed, even under the liberal construction to be given pro se complaints”); see also Krych v. Hvass, 83 Fed.Appx. 854, 855 (8th Cir. 2003) (affirming dismissal of pro se complaint against defendants who were merely listed as defendants in the caption and there were no allegations of constitutional harm against them). Any ...

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