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Sutton v. Daniels

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

August 15, 2019

MELISSA DANIELS, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on review of plaintiff's amended complaint. Based upon a review of the amended complaint, the Court finds that the amended complaint should be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         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 “does not 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 (8th Cir. 2004) (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).


         Plaintiff, Ronald Lamont Sutton, was an inmate at Algoa Correctional Center (“Algoa) in Jefferson City, Missouri when he filed the instant civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on February 11, 2019. In a handwritten complaint, totaling seventy-three pages (with exhibits), against five different defendants, relating to three separate Correctional Institutions (Algoa, ERDCC and Potosi), plaintiff sued for denial of medical care relating to his lower back pain.

         Because plaintiff had several pleading deficiencies and his complaint attempted to improperly join a multitude of claims against different defendants that were related to events arising out of different occurrences or transactions, the Court ordered plaintiff, on February 13, 2019, to amend his pleading to cure the deficiencies in the complaint. Plaintiff filed his amended pleading on February 27, 2019.

         Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff, who is now incarcerated at Jefferson City Correctional Center (“JCCC”) brings his amended complaint against three new defendants: Melissa Daniels (Director of Nursing, Corizon), Todd Bredeman (ERDCC, MDOC) and Levi Lawson (Acting Wardon, ERDCC, MDOC). He states that he is bringing claims against defendants in their individual capacities only.

         Plaintiff states that defendant Daniels “makes their image look good” at ERDCC by messing paperwork up. Plaintiff states that he believes defendant Daniels lied about the results of plaintiff's X-ray, lied about the dates of the medical department's response to plaintiff's IRR, and “denied access to plaintiff's medical needs.”

         Plaintiff claims defendant Todd Bredeman also “lied on paperwork” about “plaintiff's medical treatment” and “dates” saying he had an X-ray and that plaintiff was “negative for fracture.” Plaintiff also believes that defendant Bredeman denied plaintiff “access to serious medical needs.”

         Plaintiff states in a conclusory manner that defendant Lawson was aware of plaintiff's “serious medical needs” and denied plaintiff medical care. Plaintiff also states that he believes Lawson punished him for complaining about not getting medical needs by placing him in the hole. However, plaintiff has not made any factual allegations relative to this assertion.

         Plaintiff also states generally that Lawson had a policy of failing to provide plaintiff with medical care, and that he failed to train or supervise ...

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