United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
JOHNNY M. ESPARZA, Plaintiff,
WARDEN CHANTAY GODERT and DIRECTOR ANNE L. PRECYTHE, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PATRICIA L. COHEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on review of the file following
plaintiff's filing of his amended complaint. After
reviewing the amended complaint and the supporting
documentation, the Court will order plaintiff to file a
supplement to his amended complaint to state whether he is
suing defendants in their official capacities, individual
capacities, or both.
August 27, 2018, the Court granted plaintiff's motion to
proceed in forma pauperis, and conducted an initial review of
his complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The Court
stated that “[p]laintiff's allegations may state a
plausible claim for deprivation of his Eighth Amendment
rights under § 1983. However, plaintiff lists the
Missouri Department of Corrections as his only defendant in
this § 1983 action.” The Court found the Missouri
Department of Corrections was not a “person”
subject to suit under § 1983, and directed plaintiff to
file an amended complaint.
has filed his amended complaint, listing as defendants Warden
Chantay Godert, Northeast Correctional Center
(“NECC”); and Anne Precythe, Director of the
Missouri Department of Corrections. He has checked the box on
the form complaint, however, indicating that he is only suing
these defendants in their official capacities.
Standard on Initial Review
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), 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 for relief, a complaint must plead
more than “legal conclusions” and
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action [that are] supported by mere conclusory
statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim
for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of
misconduct.” Id. at 679. “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 on its judicial
experience and common sense. Id. at 679.
reviewing a complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the
Court accepts the well-pled facts as true. Furthermore, the
Court liberally construes the allegations.
Court summarized plaintiff's claims under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for deliberate indifference to a serious medical
need in its Memorandum and Order dated August 27, 2018.
See ECF No. 6. Plaintiff's amended complaint
contains the same allegations, but he has substituted
defendants Godert and Precythe for defendant the Missouri
Department of Corrections. The Court had dismissed defendant
the Missouri Department of Corrections from plaintiff's
original complaint, because it is not a “person”
subject to suit under § 1983. Id.
amended complaint, however, sues defendants Godert and
Precythe only in their official capacities, not in their
to plaintiff's original complaint, plaintiff's
amended complaint may state a plausible claim for deprivation
of his Eighth Amendment rights under § 1983.
Unfortunately, however, plaintiff has sued defendants only in
their official capacities. Naming a government official in
his or her official capacity is the equivalent of naming the
government entity that employs the official, in this case the
State of Missouri. Will v. Michigan Dep't of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). “[N]either a State
nor its officials acting in their official capacity are
‘persons' under § 1983.” Id. As
a result, plaintiff's official-capacity claims fail to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and these
claims must be dismissed.
into consideration that plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in
forma pauperis, the Court will instruct him to file a written
supplement to his amended complaint, in which he simply
states the capacity (i.e., official capacity,
individual capacity, or both individual and official
capacities) in which he is suing each of the named
defendants. See Alexander v. Hedback, 718 F.3d 762,
766 n.4 (8th Cir. 2013) (to sue a state actor in his or her
individual capacity, “a plaintiff must expressly and
unambiguously state so in the pleadings, otherwise, it will
be assumed that the defendant is sued only in his or her
official capacity”). If ...