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Brown El v. Missouri Department of Corrections

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

June 7, 2019

KEITH E. BROWN EL, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the Court upon review of a civil complaint filed by Keith E. Brown El, a prisoner, and a document titled "Plaintiffs Inability to Provide IFP Required Info." For the reasons explained below, the Court will allow plaintiff to proceed in forma pauperis in this action, and will assess an initial partial filing fee of $ 1.00. Additionally, the Court will dismiss this action, 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 the case at bar, plaintiff submitted a document titled "Plaintiffs Inability to Provide IFP Required Info." Therein, plaintiff states he tried to obtain a copy of his inmate account information, but corrections officials refused to provide it. He also states that corrections officials refused to notarize his affidavit. The Court will liberally construe this document as plaintiffs request for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and will grant that request. Additionally, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $1.00, an amount that is reasonable based upon the information before the Court. 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."). Any claim that plaintiff is unable to pay this amount must be supported by a copy of plaintiff s institution account statement.

         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 may 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 may 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 brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Missouri Department of Corrections, "Farmington Treatment Program," and the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole. At present, plaintiff is incarcerated in the St. Louis City Medium Security Institution. However, the events giving rise to the complaint occurred when he was incarcerated in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

         The complaint is unnecessarily long and repetitive. Condensed and summarized, plaintiffs allegations are as follows. In 2005, a judge in the 21 st Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri sentenced plaintiff to a 12-year prison term, but suspended the execution of that term and ordered plaintiff to complete a Missouri Department of Corrections drug treatment program. Also in 2005, the defendants[1] wrongfully terminated plaintiff from the drug treatment program, which resulted in the mandatory execution of the 12-year sentence. Plaintiff completed that 12-year sentence in March of 2017.

         Plaintiff states he does not challenge the 12-year sentence, "but rather the execution of same pursuant to defendants improper and illegal 'termination' of him from their drug 'treatment' program." He explains he was terminated for "lack of therapeutic gain" after he was issued three conduct violations: one for interfering with count by over-sleeping, one for smoking in an unauthorized area, and one for interfering with count by blocking a guard's view. Plaintiff offers numerous reasons why he should not have received the conduct violations. He states he overslept because he was taking prescription medication, his actions were unintentional, he should have been given a re-hearing, other offenders in his treatment program class engaged in more serious conduct and were not terminated, a certain treatment counselor orchestrated his termination, and the defendants violated his due process rights, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 217.362, and ...

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