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Robison v. Sanderson

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

November 12, 2019

LISA SANDERSON, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Dwayne Robison for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the required filing fee. (Docket No. 3). 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 $3.33. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will order plaintiff to file an amended complaint.

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

         In support of his motion to proceed in forma pauperis, plaintiff submitted a certified inmate account statement. (Docket No. 4). The certified inmate account statement shows an average monthly deposit of $16.67. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $3.33, which is 20 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 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”).

         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 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 (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 pro se litigant currently incarcerated at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri. At the time of the events in the complaint, however, it appears that plaintiff was an inmate at Farmington Correctional Center, in Farmington, Missouri. The case caption of the complaint lists Lisa Sanderson, Teri Lawson, and Elizabeth Atterberry as defendants. (Docket No. 1 at 1). They are sued in both their individual and official capacities. (Docket No. 1 at 2-4). The Statement of Claim also contains allegations against Kay McIntyre and Karen Salesmen. There is no indication as to the capacity in which McIntyre or Salesmen are sued.

         Plaintiff's complaint is handwritten and, at times, difficult to read. It appears that plaintiff is attempting to assert a variety of different mental health-related claims, though mainly he seems to object to his placement in a single-man cell in administrative segregation.

         As to Kay McIntyre, plaintiff alleges that McIntyre has made numerous hateful, discriminatory, and sexual comments towards him, and evinced a dislike for homosexuals and transgendered individuals. (Docket No. 1 at 3). She has also purportedly kept him in a suicide cell as “punishment, ” refused to give him “proper mental health treatment, ” and denied him a transfer to a two-man cell.

         As to Karen Salesmen, plaintiff states that Salesmen has denied his informal resolution requests (IRR) that he has filed regarding mental health. He further states that Salesmen has come to his cell numerous times and told him that he is not transgendered, and that he is not getting medication or a two-man cell. Plaintiff also accuses Salesmen of numerous “false statement[s]” and of telling him that mental health is doing all they can for him.

         As to Teri Lawson, plaintiff claims that Lawson has “segregated” him to a single-man cell for “no proper cause.” (Docket No. 1 at 4). He further states that Lawson has used “false document[s]” against him, and has told “other ...

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