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Sours v. Precythe

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

July 25, 2019

WILLIAM SCOTT SOURS, Plaintiff,
v.
ANNE L. PRECYTHE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JEAN C. HAMILTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court upon review of plaintiff William Scott Sours's amended complaint. For the reasons explained below, this action will be dismissed, without prejudice.

         Background

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (“ERDCC”). He is proceeding herein pro se and in forma pauperis. He initiated this action on March 11, 2019 by filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Missouri Secretary of State and officials from the Missouri Department of Corrections (“MDOC”). He filed the action jointly with another prisoner named Eugene V. LaMartina, and together they proceeded to set forth claims on behalf of themselves and other inmates. On April 5, 2019, the Court entered an order severing LaMartina from the case, and directing plaintiff to file an amended complaint to set forth his own claims for relief. Plaintiff complied, and the Court now reviews the amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         The Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff filed the amended complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Anne Precythe (Director of the MDOC), John Ashcroft (Secretary of State for the State of Missouri), Alana Boyles (MDOC's Director of Adult Institutions), Cindy Griffith (Zone Director for MDOC), Stanley Payne (Warden of the ERDCC), Gil Long (MDOC's Offender Finance Officer), and John Doe. He sues the defendants in their official and individual capacities.

         Plaintiff alleges that parole intervention fees were erroneously assessed against him and debited from his inmate trust account.[1] He alleges the events giving rise to his claims occurred when he was confined at two different MDOC facilities. He alleges that the facilities had a grievance procedure, but it did not cover his claims. He alleges he filed a grievance at the facilities in which he claimed he was exempt from the fees because he was not on parole during the times he was charged. He alleges he received responses stating that “intervention fees was not a grievable issue and I could not pursue this through the prison grievance procedure.” (Docket No. 8 at 11).

         Plaintiff alleges that Precythe, as the Director of the MDOC, is directly responsible for all policies, rules and customs, and

has therefore shown a deliberate indifference to the Plaintiff's due process rights in avoiding an erroneous assessment of parole intervention fees against Plaintiff's inmate trust fund account which has caused the defendants of the Missouri Department of Corrections to have and continue to take money from the Plaintiff without providing a means to contest these erroneous assessments through the prison grievance system.

Id. at 3, 6. Plaintiff alleges that Secretary of State Ashcroft is responsible for validating MDOC's rules and policies, and is therefore liable for the other defendants' failure to allow plaintiff a means to contest erroneous assessments through the prison grievance system. He alleges he told Boyles, Griffiths, Payne, and Long that erroneous parole intervention fees were being debited from his account and he was not provided a means to contest the erroneous assessments through the prison's grievance system. He also states that “the Defendants” are liable to him because they did not “provide Plaintiff with indigent legal supplies to be able to have access to the courts.” Id. at 7-8. After setting forth the foregoing, plaintiff wrote: “Plaintiff herein alleges that the prison grievance program is inadequate to address erroneous assessments to his inmate trust fund account and it is futile to pursue because the Defendants claim intervention (parole) fees and the collection thereof is not a grievable matter.” Id. at 8.

         As relief, plaintiff asks the Court to: “[i]ssue a declaratory judgment stating that: The taking of the Plaintiff's money from his inmate trust fund account for parole intervention fees without allowing the Plaintiff to contest erroneous assessments through the prison grievance system violates the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.” Id. at 10. Plaintiff also asks the Court to order the defendants to return his money, and award him compensatory and punitive damages, fees, and costs.

         Missouri State Court Case

         Review of public records published on Missouri Case.net shows that plaintiff filed a petition for declaratory relief against the MDOC in the Cole County Circuit Court in October of 2016. Sours v. Missouri Department of Corrections, Division of Adult Institutions, No. 16AC-CC00433 (19th Jud. Cir. 2016). In his Request for Declaratory Judgment, he averred he was granted parole in December of 2004, but in October of 2014 he was returned to the MDOC on a parole violation, and parole intervention fees were being debited from his inmate account. He acknowledged that Mo. Rev. Stat. § 217.690 allowed the Parole Board to assess parole intervention fees, but argued that his due process rights were violated when the MDOC debited his inmate account to satisfy those fees. The MDOC filed a motion to dismiss, which the court granted. The Missouri state court record does not include a written opinion setting forth the basis for the court's decision. Plaintiff appealed, but the appeal was dismissed. See Sours v. Missouri Department of Corrections, Division of Adult Institutions, No. WD80630 (Mo.Ct.App. 2017). This Court takes judicial notice of these Missouri State Court records, as obtained through the public records published on Missouri Case.net. See Levy v. Ohl, 477 F.3d 988 (8th Cir. 2007) (district court may take judicial notice of public state records); Stutzka v. McCarville, 420 F.3d 757, 760 n. 2 (8th Cir. 2005) (courts “may take judicial notice of judicial opinions and public records.”).

         Discussio ...


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