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Thomas-El v. Precynthe

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

September 16, 2019

DEANGELO THOMAS-EL, Plaintiff,
v.
ANNE PRECYTHE, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff DeAngelo Thomas-El, an inmate at the Potosi Correctional Center (PCC), 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 $1.39. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         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 a certified inmate account statement showing an average monthly deposit of $6.96, and an average monthly balance of $5.18. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $1.39, which is twenty percent of plaintiff's 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 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).

         Background

         Plaintiff initiated this action on June 24, 2019 by filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Anne Precythe (Director of the Missouri Department of Corrections), Warden Chantay Godert, Assistant Warden Michelle Thompson, and Case Managers A. Cullen and J. Mundell. Therein, he alleged the defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to provide him with necessary legal assistance/supplies and by subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment. On September 9, 2019, plaintiff filed an amended complaint against the same defendants, along with a notice stating he would like the Court to allow the amended complaint to proceed as if it was an “original filing.” Indeed, an amended complaint replaces an original complaint. See In re Wireless Telephone Federal Cost Recovery Fees Litigation, 396 F.3d 922, 928 (8th Cir. 2005) (“It is well-established that an amended complaint supersedes an original complaint and renders the original complaint without legal effect”). Additionally, the amended complaint presents the same claims based upon the same facts that occurred at the same time as in the original. The Court now reviews the amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         The Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff filed the amended complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Precythe, Godert, Thompson, Cullen and Mundell. He sues the defendants in their individual capacities.

         Plaintiff's claims arise from two separate incidents in which he was denied legal assistance/supplies. The first incident occurred on September 24, 2018. The second began on or before ...


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