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Winn v. Cardinal Glennon Hospital

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

September 4, 2019

JAKOB WINN, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Jakob Winn, an inmate at the Dixon Correctional Center in Dixon, Illinois, for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the required filing fee. Having reviewed the motion and the financial information submitted in support, the Court has determined to grant the motion and assess an initial partial filing fee of $4.56. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will direct plaintiff to show cause why this action should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and to also submit a health care affidavit for each named defendant as required by section 538.225 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri.

         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 submitted an inmate account statement showing an average monthly deposit of $19.01, and an average monthly balance of $22.78. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $4.56, which is twenty percent of plaintiff's average monthly balance.

         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 may be granted. An action is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). 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 assume the veracity of well-pleaded facts, but need not accept as true “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         This Court must liberally construe complaints filed by laypeople. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). This means that “if the essence of an allegation is discernible, ” the court should “construe the complaint in a way that permits the layperson's claim to be considered within the proper legal framework.” Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004)). However, even pro se complaints must 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). Federal courts are not required to assume facts that are not alleged, Stone, 364 F.3d at 914-15, nor are they required to interpret procedural rules 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 brings this action for medical negligence against Cardinal Glennon Hospital and “Unknown Doctor A.” He alleges federal subject matter jurisdiction on the basis of diversity of citizenship pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. He avers he is an Illinois citizen, and he states that both defendants are Missouri citizens. Regarding “Unknown Doctor A, ” plaintiff states he is an “Unknown Doctor at Cardinal Glennon Hosp” and that Cardinal Glennon Hospital is his principal place of business.

         In support of his claims, plaintiff alleges as follows. On or around May of 2017, he was admitted to Cardinal Glennon Hospital for surgery. He had experienced a previous injury that necessitated metal pin implants in his leg, which was done at a hospital in Chicago. “The Defendants” did not evaluate plaintiff's leg themselves, but instead relied upon statements from someone at the Chicago hospital regarding the specifications and locations of the pins. Cardinal Glennon and “Unknown Doctor A” performed surgery to remove the pins, and the surgeon broke them. Plaintiff alleges the surgeon failed to take necessary steps and “was also clearly not qualified to perform the surgery. He deviated from the normal standards of care and committed malpractice.” As a result, plaintiff had to undergo “further painful procedures” and suffered pain, and “now has permanent damage to his leg.” Plaintiff avers that “Cardinal Glennon and the Surgeon would have known about the specifications of the pins had they took reasonable clinical inquiry, i.e. xrays or other diagnostic procedures.” Plaintiff seeks “3 million dollars in actual, compensatory and punitive damages: over the 75, 000 jurisdictional threshold.”


         I. Subject ...

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