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Grady v. Gaddy

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

September 18, 2019

JAMES GADDY, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court upon the motion of pro se plaintiff Michael Grady for leave to commence this action without prepayment of the required filing fee. Having reviewed the motion and the financial information submitted in support, the Court will grant the motion. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4). However, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss this case without prejudice. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         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 submitted an application to proceed in district court without prepaying fees or costs stating that he has no income, no money in savings, and he owns no valuable property. ECF No. 2. Plaintiff has also filed two certifications from the Alton City Jail, where he is being held, stating that he has no money in his jail account. ECF Nos. 9 & 10. Based on this financial information, the Court will not assess an initial partial filing fee at this time. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4) ("In no event shall a prisoner be prohibited from bringing a civil action ... for the reason that the prisoner has no assets and no means by which to pay the initial partial filing fee.").

         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 apro se complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court accepts the well-plead 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 plaintiffs 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/?ro 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 and Supplemental Filings

         Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee being held at the Alton City Jail in Alton, Illinois.[1] Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his civil rights against three defendants: (1) James Gaddy (Task Force Officer with the Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA")), (2) Michael Reilly (Assistant United States Attorney), and (3) Dean Hoag (Assistant United States Attorney). Plaintiffs complaint does not specify in what capacity he brings his claims against Hoag; however, his claims against Gaddy and Reilly are brought in both their individual and official capacities.

         Plaintiffs § 1983 claims here relate to a past criminal matter before this Court. On March 1, 2017, a grand jury in this district found probable cause to return an indictment against plaintiff and two other defendants for conspiracy to distribute, and possess with the intent to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine. See U.S. v. Dillon et al., No. 4:17-CR-95-RWS (E.D. Mo. Mar. 1, 2017). Defendants Reilly and Hoag entered their appearances in that case on behalf of the United States Attorney's Office. At the time of the indictment, plaintiff was already in custody and being detained on a different criminal charge. See U.S. v. Velazquez et al, No. 4:15-CR-404-HEA-NAB-29. On June 12, 2017, the Court granted the government leave of court to dismiss the March 1, 2017, indictment against plaintiff without prejudice. U.S. v. Dillon, ECF No. 134.

         Plaintiff argues that his pretrial confinement violated the Fourth Amendment. Plaintiff alleges that the grand jury's indictment against him in U.S. v. Dillon was based "exclusively on the government's false presentation and James Gaddy's false testimony to support a finding of probable cause." ECF No. 1 at 4. About a month after the indictment was returned, the government produced its discovery material to the defense and plaintiff claims that there was "absolutely no evidence whatsoever" that he had committed the crime charged. Id. Plaintiff asserts that none of the government's wiretaps or witnesses provided evidence against him. According to plaintiff, "he would never have been indicted, arrested, held in jail for months, [2] had it not been for the government's presentation to the grand jury of James Gaddy's knowing, deliberate, illegal and unconstitutional fabrication and exaggeration of evidence against him." Id. at 8.

         Plaintiff claims that the actions of the prosecutors were "flagrant, willful or in bad faith." Id. at 5-6. According to plaintiff, defendants Reilly and Hoag are responsible as prosecutors for "all members on their investigative teams." Id. at 9. "Reilly had direct participation in the constitutional violation" because he was "deliberately indifferent and authorized Gaddy's acts, " whereas "Hoag turned a 'blind eye.' " Id. Plaintiff alleges that emails produced in U.S. v. Dillon demonstrate that Reilly, Gaddy, and a DEA Intelligence Analyst colluded together "in unsavory acts of defiance." Id.

         Since the filing of the original complaint in this matter, plaintiff filed three memorandums that the Court construes as supplements to the complaint. See ECF Nos. 5-7. In these supplements, plaintiff basically recites the same allegations made in the complaint. However, in one of them, plaintiff does allege that his company has suffered injury as a result of defendants' actions. ECF No. 5 at 3. Also, in another, plaintiff hand-copies portions of the grand jury transcript and then argues that testimony before the grand jury was not compatible with the government's evidence. ECF No. 6. Finally, plaintiff submitted a "Memorandum of Law to Support his Claim, " in which he cites to legal authority which he argues supports his Fourth Amendment claim, including: Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics,403 U.S. 388 (1971) (holding valid federal cause of action exists under the Fourth Amendment for damages resulting from injuries by federal agents); Franks v. Delaware,438 U.S. 154 (1978) (holding criminal defendant entitled to Fourth Amendment hearing where he made substantial showing that a false statement knowingly, intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth, was included by the affiant in the warrant affidavit and that allegedly false statement was necessary to the finding of probable cause); and Williams v. City of Alexander, Ark,772 F.3d 1307 ...

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