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Richmond v. Minor

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

August 6, 2019

DEMETRIUS X. RICHMOND, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL T. MINOR, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH; JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Demetrius X. Richmond, who is currently incarcerated at St. Charles County Department of Corrections, for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the filing fee. 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 $53.11. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss plaintiffs official capacity claims without prejudice but will direct the Clerk of Court to issue process on defendants in their individual capacities as to plaintiffs claims of excessive force incident to his arrest.

         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. 4). The account statement shows an average monthly deposit of $265.55. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $53.11, which is 20 percent of plaintiffs 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 plaintiffs 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 a pretrial detainee in the St. Charles County Department of Corrections. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming defendant St. Louis City Police Officers Michael T. Minor, Archie Shaw, Derrick P. Fryre and Nijauh J. Woodard. The defendants are sued in both their official and individual capacities.

         Plaintiff states that on December 22, 2016, St. Louis City Police Officers Minor, Shaw, Fryre and Woodard surrounded his vehicle after he crashed on Ohio Street in St. Louis City. He claims that they "pulled him" out of his vehicle, cuffed him and then started kicking him and punching him in the face and repeatedly tased him while he was still handcuffed. Plaintiff claims that after he was assaulted he was taken to the hospital where doctors took pictures of his injuries. Plaintiff asserts in a conclusory manner that "the St. Louis City Police Department has a history of letting its officers" assault individuals during arrests even when individuals are not resisting.

         Plaintiff is seeking $5 million for nominal damages; $2 million for compensatory damages; and $5 million for punitive damages. Plaintiff claims that he now suffers from permanent eye injuries as well as mental stress.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that St. Louis City Police Officers Minor, Shaw, Fryre and Woodard used excessive force while arresting him. Having thoroughly reviewed and liberally construed plaintiffs complaint, and for the reasons discussed below, the Court must dismiss plaintiffs official capacity claims. However, the Court will direct the Clerk of ...


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