United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
JEFFREY J. O'NEAL, Plaintiff,
BLAKE HOSKINS, Defendant,
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the motion of plaintiff
Jeffrey J. O'Neal for leave to commence this civil action
without prepayment of the required filing fee. (Docket No.
4). Having reviewed the motion and the financial information
submitted in support, the Court finds that it should be
granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).
Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Clerk of
Court will be directed to issue process on defendant Hoskins
in his individual capacity as to plaintiff's claim of
First Amendment retaliation. However, plaintiff's other
claims will be dismissed without prejudice.
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 can be
granted. To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief,
which is more than a “mere possibility of
misconduct.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
679 (2009). “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 upon judicial experience and common
sense. Id. at 679. The court must “accept as
true the facts alleged, but not legal conclusions or
threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action,
supported by mere conclusory statements.” Barton v.
Taber, 820 F.3d 958, 964 (8th Cir. 2016).
See also Brown v. Green Tree Servicing LLC, 820 F.3d
371, 372-73 (8th Cir. 2016) (stating that court
must accept factual allegations in complaint as true, but is
not required to “accept as true any legal conclusion
couched as a factual allegation”).
reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2), the
Court must give it the benefit of a liberal construction.
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) (stating that federal courts are not required to
“assume facts that are not alleged, just because an
additional factual allegation would have formed a stronger
complaint”). In addition, affording a pro se complaint
the benefit of a liberal construction does not mean that
procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation must be
interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed
without counsel. See McNeil v. United States, 508
U.S. 106, 113 (1993).
is a pro se litigant who brings this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (Docket No. 1 at 2). At the time this was
filed, he was incarcerated at the Southeast Correctional
Center (SECC) in Charleston, Missouri. He names Correctional
Officer Blake Hoskins as defendant.(Docket No. 1 at 3). Officer
Hoskins is sued in his individual capacity only.
confined in SECC, plaintiff states that a Correctional
Emergency Response Team entered his cell unannounced
“on a search and destroy mission.” During this
incident, plaintiff asserts that Officer Hoskins “made
some out of the norm conversation” with him. The
comments made by Officer Hoskins were loud enough for
“all the inmates…[to] clearly hear him.”
Apparently, though the allegations are not entirely clear,
Officer Hoskins's comments referred to plaintiff as a
child molester. According to plaintiff, this “placed a
death warrant” on him, making it unsafe for him to be
anywhere in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
states that he had a “PREA placed on” Officer
Hoskins. (Docket No. 1 at 4). Nevertheless, Officer Hoskins
was “[allowed] close to [him] as [though] nothing has
ever happened.” Plaintiff alleges that Officer Hoskins
has threatened him and told him that he needs to watch his
claims that Officer Hoskins's superiors have forced
plaintiff to take a cellmate. He further claims that he has
had four cellmates, all of whom have “hounded [him] for
sexual favors.” In order to avoid this, plaintiff went
to a suicide cell on May 30, 2019.
4, 2019, plaintiff got out of suicide cell, escorted by
Officer Hoskins. Plaintiff alleges that Officer Hoskins
removed his new glasses from his face and refused to return
them. He states that he has asked for their return over 150
times. He further states that without his glasses, he has
difficulty working on his legal cases; that his medical needs
are not being met; and that his right to free exercise of
religion has been violated. (Docket No. 1 at 5). Plaintiff
alleges that Officer Hoskins took his eyeglasses in
retaliation “for the PREA” that plaintiff placed
alleges that Officer Hoskins deprived him of various
constitutional rights, including: the First Amendment rights
to free exercise of religion and free speech; the Fourth
Amendment's protection against unlawful seizures; the
Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual
punishment; and the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process
Clause. (Docket No. 1 at 6-7).
seeks damages in the amount of $50, 000. (Docket No. 1 at 8).
brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that Officer Hoskins violated his constitutional
rights by taking away his eyeglasses, allegedly in
retaliation for a complaint that plaintiff made against him.
His complaint contains a number of legal claims asserting
violations of various constitutional rights. Restated,
plaintiff alleges that Officer Hoskins is liable for
retaliation under the First Amendment; deliberate
indifference to his medical needs; impeding his access to the
courts; making verbal comments that put him in danger;
impeding his ability to practice his religion; and
deprivation of property. For the reasons discussed below, the
Clerk of Court will be directed to ...