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Hutson v. McKinney

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

April 29, 2019




         This matter comes before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Calvin Hutson for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the required filing fee. (Docket No. 2). Having reviewed the motion, the Court has determined that plaintiff lacks sufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee, and will assess an initial partial filing fee of $1.83. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss plaintiff's official capacity claim without prejudice, but will direct the Clerk of Court to issue process on defendant William D. McKinney, Jr. in his individual capacity.

         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 has submitted a certified inmate account statement. (Docket No. 3). The account statement shows an average monthly deposit of $9.15. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $1.83, 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 incarcerated at Potosi Correctional Center (PCC) in Mineral Point, Missouri. (Docket No. 1 at 3). He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming Dr. William D. McKinney, Jr. as defendant. Dr. McKinney is employed by Corizon and provides health care at PCC. He is sued in both his official capacity and individual capacity.

         Plaintiff states that he arrived at PCC on May 1, 2013. (Docket No. 1 at 5). At that time, he had been diagnosed with left arm thrombosis. Initially, he was prescribed medication for this condition by a specialist. However, after two years, this medication ran out. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. McKinney refused to renew the medication. He also claims that Dr. McKinney has refused any further treatment. Due to a lack of treatment, plaintiff states that his hand is now deformed and tightened into a fist. Plaintiff asserts that he has sent several medical service requests asking for surgery to fix his hand, but all requests have been denied. He alleges that despite losing the use of his hand and suffering pain, Dr. McKinney continues to deny him medical care.

         Plaintiff seeks money damages, an injunction, and declaratory judgment. (Docket No. 1 at 6). Specifically, he is requesting $1 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.


         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges that Dr. McKinney has been deliberately indifferent to his medical needs regarding his left arm thrombosis. Having thoroughly reviewed and liberally construed plaintiff's complaint, and for the reasons discussed below, plaintiff's official capacity claim against Dr. McKinney must be dismissed. ...

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