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Marin v. Griffith

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

August 27, 2019

ISAIAH MARIN, Plaintiff,
CINDY GRIFFITH, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court upon the motion of plaintiff (registration no. 1134898), an inmate at Missouri Eastern Correctional Center (“MCCC”), for leave to commence this action without payment of the required filing fee. For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that the plaintiff does not have sufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee and will assess an initial partial filing fee of $45.32. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Furthermore, after reviewing the complaint and the supplemental complaints, the Court will order plaintiff to submit a second amended complaint on a court-provided form in compliance with the instructions set forth below. Plaintiff's failure to do so will result in a dismissal of 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.

         Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit and a certified copy of his prison account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the submission of his complaint. A review of plaintiff's account indicates an average monthly deposit of $226.58. Accordingly, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $45.32.

         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 for relief under § 1983, a complaint must plead more than “legal conclusions” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 679. “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, inter alia, draw upon judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.

         Pro se complaints are to be liberally construed. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). However, they still must allege sufficient facts to support the claims alleged. Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004); see also Martin v. Aubuchon, 623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980) (even pro se complaints are required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim for relief as a matter of law). Federal courts are not required to “assume facts that are not alleged, just because an additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger complaint.” Stone, 364 F.3d at 914-15. In addition, giving 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. U.S., 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).

         The Complaint and Supplemental Complaints

         Plaintiff is an inmate at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the following defendants, named in his complaint: Cindy Griffith (Deputy Div. Director, Adult Institutions); Anne Precythe (Director); Shannon Montgomery (Square Cook); Donna Gillam (Farmington Correctional Center (“FCC”), Food Service Manager); David Vandergriff; FCC, Deputy Warden); Teri Lawson (FCC, Warden); Tammy White (FCC, Deputy Warden); James Cowie (FCC, Correctional Officer); Brittany Gillam (FCC, Square Cook); Kevin Mathes (FCC, Correctional Officer); K. Johnson (FCC, Case Manager); William Boyer (FCC, Asst. Warden); Melanie Hinkle (FCC, Functional Unit Manager); Brian Pettus (FCC, Correctional Officer); Tracy Lynch (FCC, Correctional Officer); John Hagardy (FCC, Case Manager); and Alan Butterworth (FCC, Acting Warden). Plaintiff names these defendants in their individual and official capacities in the complaint.[1]

         On April 11, 2019, plaintiff submitted a supplemental complaint adding claims and defendants to his complaint. He named the following defendants: John/Jane Doe I (MECC, Correctional Officer); Jane Doe (MECC, Correctional Officer); John/Jane Doe II (MECC, Correctional Officer); and Jennifer Sachse (MECC, Warden). Plaintiff again asserted that he was bringing his action against defendants in their individual and official capacities.

         Plaintiff has submitted an eighty-two-page (82) handwritten complaint, as well as a seventy-five-page (75) supplemental complaint. The Court does not accept supplemental pleadings, and additionally, all complaints and amended pleadings are to be submitted on a court-provided form. See Popoalii v. Correctional Medical Services, 512 F.3d 488, 497 (8th Cir.2008) (finding that it is appropriate to deny leave to amend a complaint when a proposed amendment was not submitted with the motion); see also, E.D. Mo. Local Rule 2.06(A).

         Additionally, plaintiff has included claims relating to two separate prisons - Farmington Correctional Center (“FCC”) and Missouri Eastern Correctional Center (“MECC”), and he has brought more than eight separate (8) claims against twenty-one (21) defendants.

         For example, plaintiff generally claims that he has been denied “access to the Inmate Canteen Fund Records” at the Missouri Department of Corrections at both MECC and FCC. However, he does not indicate why he needs such records, or which defendants he asked for the records or why he was purportedly denied the records.

         Plaintiff goes into great detail regarding his work at FCC as a Level I Cook, and how he believes there is a hierarchy between inmates within job assignments. He asserts that some inmates, or “leadmen, ” have the ability to tell other inmates what to do within their job assignments. Plaintiff does not believe inmates should have supervisory authority over other inmates. Plaintiff asserts generally, that defendants Shannon Montgomery and Donna Gilliam, (Cook and Food Service Manager at FCC), acted incorrectly in allowing some inmates to have supervisory authority as “leadmen” over other inmates in the kitchen. Plaintiff states in a conclusory fashion that Deputy Warden Vandergriff, Warden Teri Lawson, Deputy Director of Adult Institutions Cindy Griffith, and MDOC Director Anne Precythe all failed to fix the violations that were occurring at the FCC kitchen in that “leadmen” were being allowed to tell other inmates what to do in the kitchen environment.

         Unfortunately, plaintiff does not state how he was harmed if, in fact, another inmate did direct his actions in the kitchen in any way. Plaintiff also does not state how he believes such a “hierarchy” in the kitchen was a constitutional violation. Moreover, although he claims that the supervisors of FCC and MDOC knew about the practice and condoned it, ...

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