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Little v. Corizon

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

October 21, 2019

CORIZON, et al., Defendants.



         This matter comes before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Devonte L. Little for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the required filing fee. (Docket No. 2). Having reviewed the motion and the financial information submitted in support, the Court has determined that plaintiff lacks sufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee, and will assess an initial partial filing fee of $1.00. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will order plaintiff to file a supplement to his complaint, indicating whether or not he is suing Nurse Knox in an individual capacity.

         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 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 the Court each time the amount in the prisoner's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is fully paid. Id.

         Plaintiff has failed to submit an inmate account statement along with his motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Review of plaintiff s motion indicates that plaintiff does not appear to have a source of income. As a result, the Court will require plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of $1.00. 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"). If plaintiff is unable to pay the initial partial filing fee, he must submit a copy of his prison account statement in support of his claim.

         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 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. Tctber, 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").

         When 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 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 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 (8thCir. 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).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee currently incarcerated at the St. Louis City Justice Center (SLCJC) in St. Louis, Missouri. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His complaint names Corizon, Nurse Unknown Knox, and Dr. Unknown Fuentes as defendants. Dr. Fuentes is sued in both an official capacity and individual capacity. Plaintiff does not indicate the capacity in which he is suing Nurse Knox.

         On July 31, 2018, while detained at the SLCJC, plaintiff reported a severe headache to the housing unit officer. (Docket No. 1 at 4). Plaintiff also advised that on December 9, 2016, he had been shot in the head. He was directed to fill out a medical service request form (MSR), which he did. Plaintiff states that he received no immediate response, despite filling out "numerous" MSRs.

         On August 24, 2018, a medical emergency was called due to plaintiffs headache, blurry vision, and trouble breathing. Plaintiff states that Nurse Knox came to the unit. According to plaintiff, Nurse Knox said that plaintiff did not do "anything but... complain about a headache." Nurse Knox took his vitals and sent him back to his cell. Over the next few weeks, plaintiff asserts that his headache and eye vision continued to worsen.

         At some point, plaintiff demonstrated to Nurse Knox that he could no longer open his left eye completely. (Docket No. 1 at 3). He also told her about his headaches. However, plaintiff alleges that Nurse Knox told him that "headaches are normal."

         When plaintiff met with Dr. Fuentes, he requested emergency medical attention. Plaintiff claims, however, that Dr. Fuentes offered him only a pain pill for his headaches. He also states that Dr. Fuentes advised him that headaches can be caused by stress, and that his blurry vision was a result of his needing glasses. Dr. Fuentes then referred plaintiff ...

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