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Steward v. King

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

August 27, 2019




         This matter is before the Court upon the motion of pro se plaintiff Patrick Jerome Steward for leave to commence this action without prepayment of the required 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 $1.00. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Furthermore, after reviewing the complaint, this case will be dismissed without prejudice for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and for alleging legally frivolous claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         Initial Partial Filing Fee

         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, until the filing fee is fully paid. Id.

         Plaintiff has filed two motions to proceed in forma pauperis - one on a court-provided form and one hand-written. See ECF Nos. 3 & 6. Both motions state that plaintiff is a poor person unable to pay the filing fee and that he is not employed. Plaintiff does occasionally receive money from a friend, but he states that he currently has no funds in his prison account. ECF No. 6 at 2. On June 14, 2019, plaintiff filed a “Motion to Subpoena Account, ” seeking the Court's assistance in getting an inmate account statement from the Warren County Jail where he was incarcerated. ECF No. 5. Plaintiff notes that the Jail provided an account statement for a different case that plaintiff currently has pending before this Court. See Steward v. Gregory, No. 4:18-CV-1768-JAR (E.D. Mo. Oct. 15, 2018). Based on the financial information plaintiff has submitted, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $1.00. See Henderson v. Norris, 129 F.3d 481, 484 (8th Cir. 1997) (when a prisoner is unable to provide the Court with a certified copy of his prison account statement, the Court should assess an amount “that is reasonable, based on whatever information the court has about the prisoner's finances.”).

         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, is malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. To state a claim for relief, 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 draw on its judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.

         When reviewing a pro se complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court accepts the well-pled facts as true, White v. Clark, 750 F.2d 721, 722 (8th Cir. 1984), and liberally construes the complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); 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) (refusing to supply additional facts or to construct a legal theory for the pro se plaintiff that assumed facts that had not been pleaded).

         The Complaint [1]

         Plaintiff, who is currently an inmate at Fulton Correctional Center but was being held at the Warren County Jail at the time of the allegations, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff names two defendants in both their individual and official capacities: (1) Warren County prosecuting attorney Kelly King and (2) Warren County, Missouri.

Plaintiff states his claims against the defendants in a few short paragraphs:
Held in the Warren County Jail against my will. Kelly King employed by Warren County has me false imprisoned, malicious prosecution, extreme bond for misdemeanor charges. Double jeopardize.
Warren County Jail failed to protect me from being assaulted by another inmate. In conspiracy with Kelly King to keep me kidnapped against my will.
5th, 6th, 8th, 14th Amendment violations. Being deprived of life, liberty, and property.

ECF No. 7 at 3.

         For relief, plaintiff seeks $1500 per day that he has been falsely imprisoned and has had his civil rights violated, and $250, 000 in punitive damages. According to plaintiff, he has suffered from chest pains, high blood pressure, numbness in his face as a result of assault, mental anguish, shortness of breath, and “dreams of [his] demise while in the County Jail.” ECF No. 7 at 4. Plaintiff also ...

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