United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
SHIRLEY PADMORE MENSAH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Rico
Paul, an inmate at the Jefferson City Correctional Center
(JCC), 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 $1.50. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed
below, the Court will give plaintiff the opportunity to file
an amended complaint.
U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)
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.
time plaintiff filed the instant complaint and motion for
leave to proceed in forma pauperis, he was incarcerated at
the Potosi Correctional Center (PCC). In the motion,
plaintiff avers he receives $7.50 per month, and that his
brother sends him money from time to time. Plaintiff did not
submit a certified inmate account statement in support of the
instant motion. However, the Court notes that in a prior case
plaintiff filed in this Court, he advised that PCC officials
had refused to provide him with a copy of his inmate account
statement. Paul v. Teddford, et al., No.
4:19-cv-1851-DDN (E.D. Mo. 2019). The Court takes judicial
notice of its own records in those proceedings involving
plaintiff. See Lockett v. United States, 333
Fed.Appx. 143, 144 (8th Cir. 2009) (citing Chandler v.
United States, 378 F.2d 906, 909-10 (9th Cir. 1967)
(district court can take judicial notice of its own
records)). The Court will therefore not order plaintiff to
submit a certified copy of his inmate account statement at
this time, and will instead assess an initial partial filing
fee based upon the information plaintiff provided in the
motion. Plaintiff will be required to pay $1.50, which is
twenty percent of his monthly deposit and an amount that is
reasonable based upon the information before the Court.
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.”). Any claim that plaintiff is unable to pay
this amount must be supported by a copy of plaintiff's
institution account statement.
Standard on Initial Review
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).
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
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).
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
10 defendants: Lonnie Smallen, Stan Payne, Unknown Grubbs,
Joshua Lybarger, Dennis S. Robinson, Unknown Westcott,
Richard Jennings, Steven Francis, Kimberly Price, and Kyle
Renshaw. Plaintiff states he sues Smallen and Payne in their
individual capacities. He does not indicate the capacity in
which he sues the remaining eight defendants.
appears plaintiff wishes to claim he was wrongfully placed in
administrative segregation or that he suffered retaliation.
However, he sets forth his allegations in the form of a
rambling narrative full of vague assertions and conclusory
statements. For example, he writes:
I went through false imprisonment. I was released from
segregation on July 26, 2018 and refer to protected custody
for PC needs. I was seen August 7, 2018 and was given a 30
day review that was set for September 4, 2018 but I was a
special hearing and was release to general population August
21, 2018. I was given a conduct violation 7-23-2018 but
wasn't seen for the violation until 8-23-2018 which was a
due process violation and served my disciplinary time for
that which was over with 9-17-2018.
also alleges that Smallen removed him from the “move
list to be release to general population” and that
Westcott “will also have whoever move me off the moving
list.” Plaintiff alleges “they were retaliating
because I filed sexual harassment complaints against Joshua
Lybarger for months they were removing me from the moving
list as I was assigned to general population.” The
complaint continues in this ...