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Jackson v. Brock

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

March 27, 2019

MARK K. JACKSON, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
LT. UNKNOWN BROCK, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          AUDREY G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Mark K. Jackson, 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 assess an initial partial filing fee of $10.26. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss the official capacity claims against all defendants, as well as the individual capacity claims against defendants Lt. Unknown Wade-Livingston, Capt. W. Turner, Lt. Unknown Moss, Derrick Baker, and Felita Bain. However, the Court will direct the Clerk of Court to issue process on defendants Lt. Unknown Brock and Dr. Unknown Fuentes in their individual capacities.

         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 or her 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 the 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. (Docket No. 4). The account statement shows an average monthly deposit of $51.31. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $10.26, which is 20 percent of plaintiff's average monthly deposit.

         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. 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 factual allegation”).

         When 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).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff is currently a pretrial detainee at the St. Louis City Justice Center (SLCJC) in St. Louis, Missouri. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He names the following individuals as defendants: Lt. Unknown Brock; Lt. Unknown Wade-Livingston; Capt. W. Turner; Lt. Unknown Moss; Doctor Unknown Fuentes; Derrick Baker; and Felita Bain. Defendants are sued in both their individual and official capacities. The complaint concerns plaintiff's alleged assault by inmate Derrick Baker.

         On July 30, 2018, at around 5:30 a.m., plaintiff states that he was escorted to the dress out area on the second floor of the SLCJC. (Docket No. 1 at 3). This is the area where inmates get ready for court. Once there, plaintiff realized that he had forgotten to bring a motion with him that he needed for court. The motion had been left in plaintiff's cell on the fifth floor. Plaintiff states that he asked Lt. Brock if he could retrieve the motion. (Docket No. 1 at 3-4). According to plaintiff, Lt. Brock refused, and told him that his “dumb a-- shouldn't have left it upstairs.” (Docket No. 1 at 4). Defendant Brock also told plaintiff to step into Cell A.

         Plaintiff states that he told Lt. Brock that “he's not [going to] talk to [him] like that, ” and that he refused to step into Cell A because he needed his motion for court. Thereafter, plaintiff and Lt. Brock exchanged “derogatory terminology towards one another” until Lt. Brock left the area.

         While Lt. Brock was away, plaintiff asked another officer to retrieve his motion for him. The officer agreed to get the motion, and told plaintiff to get into Cell A. Plaintiff complied and stepped into the cell.

         When Lt. Brock returned, plaintiff states that he asked “where did the little b---- go?” and stated “I see your little punk a-- stepped in” to the cell. At this point, plaintiff and Lt. Brock started arguing again. During this exchange, plaintiff alleges that Lt. Brock looked at inmate Derrick Baker and said “Beat his a--.” Then, Lt. Brock left, whereupon plaintiff claims that Baker assaulted him and knocked a tooth loose. (Docket No. 1 at 4, 8). Plaintiff states that he did not know Baker and that Baker “did this on the order of Lt. Brock.” (Docket No. 1 at 8). As a result of Baker's assault, plaintiff's bottom lip was “busted open” and a tooth was knocked back and pushed out of place. (Docket No. 1 at 4).

         Plaintiff states that he saw Dr. Fuentes at around 8:10 a.m. on the morning of his alleged assault. (Docket No. 1 at 8). He states that Dr. Fuentes refused to give him proper medical attention. Specifically, he claims that she did not let him see a dentist, despite his tooth being knocked out of place. Plaintiff states that his tooth is loose to this day, and that he has still not seen a dentist. He also claims that his lip and gums continue to hurt. (Docket No. 1 at 10).

         At around 3:00 p.m. on July 30, 2018, the St. Louis Police Department was called to the SLCJC. (Docket No. 1 at 7). Plaintiff states that he was called out of his cell to talk to police officers about the incident. During this interview, Lt. Wade-Livingston was present. Plaintiff states that Lt. Wade-Livingston was also with him in medical while he was waiting to see the doctor. Indeed, she was on the one who called the captain and another lieutenant to medical to start the investigation. However, plaintiff alleges that even though he gave Lt. Wade-Livingston an informal resolution request (IRR) to turn in, she never did.

         Plaintiff states that Capt. W. Turner came to medical and advised plaintiff that Turner and Lt. Moss would view the audio and video surveillance. Plaintiff claims that Lt. Moss “was also the investigating officer with Capt. Turner that refused to make a report of his findings.” (Docket No. 1 at 8). He further states that when he started the IRR and grievance process, correctional officer Felita Bain refused to allow him “to follow the chain of command, ” thereby denying him due process.

         Plaintiff asks the Court to order that Lt. Brock be charged with prisoner abuse and be terminated from his position at the SLCJC. (Docket No. 1 at 10). He also wants the other defendants to undergo training on offender abuse. Plaintiff is seeking damages in the amount of $300, 000 for ...


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