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Doxley v. Wallace

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

June 21, 2019

DAMIEN DUANE DOXLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
IAN WALLACE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RODNEY W. SIPPEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Damien Duane Doxley for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the 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 $2.38. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss plaintiff's complaint 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 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.

         In support of his motion to proceed in forma pauperis, plaintiff has submitted a copy of his certified inmate account statement. (Docket No. 3). The inmate account statement shows an average monthly deposit of $11.92. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $2.38, 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 (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).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking, Missouri. At the time relevant to this complaint, however, he was an inmate at the Southeast Correctional Center (SECC) in Charleston, Missouri. He brings this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His complaint names Ian Wallace, Alan Earls, Jason Lewis, Unknown Applegate, Brandi Meredith, Unknown Beggs, Carl Jacobson, Jessup Mae, Bill Stange, and SECC as defendants. The defendants are sued in both their individual and official capacities.

         The complaint arises out of plaintiff's placement into administrative segregation following a prison disciplinary hearing. Plaintiff alleges that on April 16, 2016, inmate Jonathan Jamison was placed into an administrative segregation cell with him. (Docket No. 1 at 5). Less than twenty-four hours later, inmate Jamison requested protective custody. Plaintiff asserts that requesting protective custody is the only way to move to a different cell without receiving a conduct violation. Inmate Jamison subsequently left plaintiff's cell. Two to three months later, inmate Jamison accused plaintiff of tying him to a bunk with bed sheets and sexually assaulting him.

         By the time of inmate Jamison's allegations, plaintiff had been released from administrative segregation. Following the accusation, plaintiff was placed back into administrative segregation while an investigation was conducted.

         Plaintiff states that defendant Unknown Applegate investigated inmate Jamison's allegations and determined they were unfounded. He asserts this means that the allegation was “determined never to have occurred.” Upon conclusion of Investigator Applegate's investigation, plaintiff was released from administrative segregation. Plaintiff states that defendant Carl Jacobson advised him “that the investigation was concluded and unfounded.” Twenty-two days later, defendant Bill Stange ordered plaintiff back into administrative segregation and issued a conduct violation for forcible sexual misconduct. Plaintiff asserts that defendant Jacobson rewrote the conduct violation despite knowing the investigation showed it to be unfounded. (Docket No. 1 at 6). Plaintiff alleges that the actions of defendants Stange and Jacobson violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. (Docket No. 1 at 7).

         Shortly thereafter, plaintiff states that he had a major conduct violation disciplinary hearing. (Docket No. 1 at 5). At that hearing, defendants Unknown Beggs and Jessup Mae found plaintiff guilty of the violation, “despite having no evidence to substantiate the allegations except what was in the body of the conduct violation.” Plaintiff further states that defendants Beggs and Mae disregarded the evidence he submitted. He claims that the actions of defendants Beggs and Mae violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. (Docket No. 1 at 7).

         Plaintiff states that he initiated, utilized, and exhausted the grievance process by appealing the conduct violation and by requesting dismissal and expungement. (Docket No. 1 at 6). However, he states that his informal resolution request (IRR) and grievances were denied. He alleges that defendants Brandi Meredith, Ian Wallace, and Alan Earls all responded in one way or another to his grievances, and all were aware that he was issued a conduct violation after the initial investigation was unfounded. Specifically, he states that defendant Meredith reviewed his IRR; that defendant Wallace sent him a grievance appeal response; and that defendant Earls failed to overturn his violation when he filed a grievance appeal. (Docket No. 1 at 7-8; Docket No. 1-1 at 8). Plaintiff claims that the actions of defendants Meredith, Wallace, and Earls violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. (Docket No. 1 at 7-8).

         Plaintiff alleges that Warden Jason Lewis failed to take corrective action, even after plaintiff “advised [him] of the situation.” (Docket No. 1 at 8). He states that this violates his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. He further states that SECC violated his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by placing him in administrative segregation for “unfounded false allegations.” As a result of this incident, plaintiff alleges that he has suffered mental and emotional anguish from being “unjustly placed” in administrative segregation and being “labeled sexually aggressive.” (Docket No. 1 at 9).

         Plaintiff seeks to have his conduct violation dismissed and expunged; for the Court to order SECC to issue inmate Jamison a conduct violation for falsely alleging that plaintiff sexually assaulted him; and for the Court to order defendants to pay punitive damages for unnecessary administrative segregation confinement and for mental and emotional anguish. (Docket No. 1 at 11-12).

         Discussion

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process when he was given a conduct violation for an incident that had initially been declared unfounded. For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed for failure to state a claim.

         A. Official Capacity Claims ...


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