United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
W. SIPPEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the motion of plaintiff
Dante Criddle to commence this civil action without
prepayment of the filing fee. (Docket No. 2). Having reviewed
the motion and the financial information contained therein,
the Court has determined that plaintiff lacks sufficient
funds to pay the entire filing fee and will assess an initial
partial filing fee of $1.00. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below,
the Court will dismiss plaintiff's official capacity
claim against defendant Megan Unknown. However, the Court
will direct the Clerk of Court to issue process on defendants
Jason Lewis, Benjamin Crass, Jason Wilson, Cole Hansen, and
Megan Unknown in their individual capacities, as well as on
defendants Lewis, Crass, Wilson, and Hansen in their official
capacities, to the extent that plaintiff is seeking
prospective injunctive relief. Finally, the Court will deny
plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction and
temporary restraining order.
U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)
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 Court each time the amount
in the prisoner's account exceeds $10.00, until the
filing fee is fully paid. Id.
has not submitted an inmate account statement. He states this
is a result of his institution's refusal to supply him
with one. (Docket No. 4 at 6). As such, the Court will
require plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of
$1.00. See Henderson v. Norris, 129 F.3d 481, 484
(8th Cir. 1997) (when a prisoner is unable to provide the
Court with a certified copy of his prison account statement,
the Court should assess an amount “that is reasonable,
based on whatever information the court has about the
prisoner's finances”). If plaintiff is unable to
pay the initial partial filing fee, he must provide
documentation in support of his claim.
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 (8thCir.
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).
is currently incarcerated at the Southeast Correctional
Center (SECC) in Charleston, Missouri. (Docket No. 1 at 5).
He brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. His complaint names Warden Jason Lewis, Correctional
Officer Benjamin Crass, Correctional Officer Jason Wilson,
Correctional Officer Cole Hansen, and Nurse Megan Unknown as
defendants. (Docket No. 1 at 2-4). They are all sued in both
their official and individual capacities.
alleges that on January 29, 2019, he was housed in Housing
Unit #2, B Wing, Cell #114 in administrative segregation.
(Docket No. 1 at 5). Between 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.,
Officer Hansen approached plaintiff's cell and opened the
food slot. Plaintiff states that Officer Hansen directed him
to turn around and place his hands out of the food slot, so
that he could be handcuffed. Plaintiff complied with this
being handcuffed, plaintiff asked why he was being
restrained. (Docket No. 1 at 5-6). He states that Officer
Hansen told him not to ask questions and to do as directed.
(Docket No. 1 at 6). Several minutes later, Officer Wilson
escorted another prisoner, Inmate Joseph Harris, to
plaintiff's cell. Officer Wilson advised plaintiff that
Inmate Harris would be his new cellmate.
states that he informed Officer Wilson and Officer Hansen
that he had past issues with Inmate Harris. Specifically, he
told Officer Wilson and Officer Hansen that Inmate Harris had
alleged that plaintiff spit in his face. Furthermore,
plaintiff told Officer Wilson and Officer Hansen that Inmate
Harris was enrolled in the prison's mental health program
and that he suffered from “multiple mental
disabilities” that required him to take
“psychotic medications.” (Docket No. 1 at 6-7).
In short, plaintiff claims that he “clearly
informed” Officer Wilson and Officer Hansen that if
Inmate Harris was placed in his cell, he would be assaulted.
(Docket No. 1 at 7).
to plaintiff, Officer Wilson responded by saying “that
Prisoner Harris is a coward and that Prisoner Harris is not
going to harm a fly.” Plaintiff states that Officer
Wilson also told him that all Inmate Harris does is
“talk tuff sh-t, ” and that Inmate Harris does
whatever Officer Wilson tells him to do. He further claims
that Officer Wilson promised Inmate Harris contraband items
if he assaulted plaintiff. (Docket No. 1 at 17). In response
Officer Hansen allegedly said that he was “putting his
money” on plaintiff. (Docket No. 1 at 7). At this
point, plaintiff requested protective custody. However,
Officer Wilson and Officer Hansen denied this request.
Wilson then radioed the control center to open the door to
plaintiff's cell. (Docket No. 1 at 8). Inmate Harris was
placed in the cell with plaintiff. Once Inmate Harris was
inside, Officer Wilson directed Harris to place his hands out
of the food slot. Officer Wilson removed Inmate Harris's
restraints. Plaintiff states that he was unable to place his
own hands in the food slot to have his handcuffs removed,
because Inmate Harris would not let him. Thus, plaintiff
remained in his handcuffs.
alleges that Inmate Harris began to physically assault him.
He states that Inmate Harris struck him repeatedly in the
head and face with a closed fist. He states that he was hit
in both eyes, causing them to swell shut. He states that he
was punched in the nose, causing it to bleed, and in the
mouth, causing both lips to split open and bleed. While this
occurred, plaintiff claims that he “begged and
screamed” for Officer Wilson and Officer Hansen to stop
Inmate Harris from attacking him. (Docket No. 1 at 8-9).
Inmate Harris's assault continued. (Docket No. 1 at 9).
Plaintiff alleges that Inmate Harris banged his head against
the cell's concrete wall, splitting his forehead, leaving
“large contusions and knots, ” and eventually
rendering him unconscious. Plaintiff states that while
unconscious, Inmate Harris continued to stomp and kick him,
placed him in a chokehold, and began to “choke [him] to
the assault took place, other prisoners began screaming and
yelling to get Officer Wilson and Officer Hansen to stop
Inmate Harris's assault. Instead, plaintiff claims that
Officer Wilson took out a can of mace and sprayed plaintiff
directly in the eyes and face. (Docket No. 1 at 10).
alleges that Inmate Harris was allowed to continually assault
him for approximately fifteen minutes. During this time,
plaintiff was in handcuffs and unable to protect himself.
Plaintiff states that Officer Wilson and Officer Hansen stood
outside and observed this assault without taking any action.
Sergeant Crass arrived on scene with several unknown
correctional officers. Inmate Harris was given a directive to
submit to handcuff restraints and complied. Inmate Harris was
thereupon removed from the cell by Officer Wilson and
Sergeant Crass. Plaintiff states that both Officer Wilson and
Sergeant Crass threatened him. He states that Officer Wilson
specifically told him not to mention anything about Inmate
Harris assaulting him.
states that he remained in the same cell in which he had been
assaulted. (Docket No. 1 at 11). He requested medical
attention and Nurse Megan was called to treat him. However,
plaintiff alleges that Nurse Megan “never fully
examined” him. Rather, she merely looked through the
cell door window and told him that there was “nothing
seriously wrong with him” other than “a few
bruises and bumps.” Plaintiff states, though, that both
his eyes were swollen shut, his nose was “busted,
” both lips were split, his forehead was split, he had
double vision, and he was suffering “extreme
pain” in his back and ribs. (Docket No. 1 at 11, 18).
He alleges that Nurse Megan did not treat him in order to
cover up the actions of Officer Wilson and Officer Hansen.
(Docket No. 1 at 18). Following the assault, plaintiff states
that he submitted multiple sick call requests, but that these
were destroyed by Nurse Megan. (Docket No. 1 at 11, 19). He
also states that Nurse Megan was the head supervisor over the
sick call process. (Docket No. 1 at 11).
claims that he has attempted to address his complaint through
SECC's administrative grievance process, but that he has
been denied access. (Docket No. 1 at 12). He also asserts
that he has written to Warden Lewis about the incident,
advising Lewis that he has been denied access to the
to plaintiff, Warden Lewis sent out a “memo” in
December 2018, directing all correctional officers to inform
prisoners that if they refused to move into a cell with
another prisoner, physical force would be used to place that
prisoner in the cell, and a major disciplinary action would
be written. Plaintiff alleges that this policy was to be
enforced no matter the circumstances. (Docket No. 1 at 13).
of Inmate Harris's alleged assault, plaintiff states he
sustained the following injuries: swollen eyes; bloody nose;
split lips; split forehead; knots and contusions; blurry
double vision; severe headaches; and soreness in his back and
ribs. (Docket ...