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Isaac v. Missouri Department of Corrections

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

November 19, 2019

HAROLD D. ISAAC, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the Court on review of pro se plaintiff Harold D. Isaac's civil complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff will be directed to file an amended complaint on a Court-provided form. Furthermore, he must either pay the filing fee or file a motion to proceed in forma pauperis.

         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 (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).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff is currently an inmate at the Potosi Correctional Center (PCC) in Mineral Point, Missouri. On September 30, 2019, he filed a document with the Court that has been construed as a civil complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Docket No. 1). The complaint is handwritten and not on a Court form.

         Plaintiff begins by complaining that on shower nights, guards do not have clean clothing to distribute, and that he has only one t-shirt, one pair of socks, one pair of boxers, one sheet, one blanket, one face towel, and no big towel. (Docket No. 1 at 1-2). He states that this is an issue because he has tinea versicolor, [1] which has manifested itself as a rash that has spread to his pelvis and private parts. (Docket No. 1 at 3). Plaintiff alleges that his condition requires an exchange of clothing and bedding every twenty-four hours. Despite his requests, however, plaintiff has not received extra clothing.

         Plaintiff further claims that upon his first visit with Dr. McKinney, the physician at PCC, he was denied a medical lay-in that would keep him out of food services. (Docket No. 1 at 4). As a consequence, he had to work in the food services steam room and to share work clothing with another inmate who also had tinea versicolor. Because of this, he wants to file a case against Dr. McKinney and Corizon, Inc. (Docket No. 1 at 5).

         Plaintiff also levies a number of accusations concerning his time spent on suicide watch from June 15, 2019 until September 13, 2019. First, he states that on June 15, 2019, he was not placed in a suicide cell when he declared himself suicidal. (Docket No. 1 at 7). Plaintiff subsequently attempted to hang himself.

         Second, after being placed in a suicide cell, plaintiff claims he was put on meal-loaf for nine meals, and that the guard would drop the meal-loaf into his cell, which meant that plaintiff was “forced to eat food off the floor.”

         Third, plaintiff alleges that Officer Huett “constantly” served his food trays without first flushing his toilet, meaning that he had to eat while “enduring the smell of urine and [feces].” (Docket No. 1 at 8). He states that Officer Huett did this intentionally, and only singled out the black inmates on suicide watch.

         Fourth, plaintiff states that “on one particular day, ” Officer Gordan refused to give him toilet paper. This purportedly occurred as retaliation for plaintiff threatening to report Officer Gordan and Officer Huett to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

         Fifth, plaintiff asserts that Officer Huett filed a false conduct violation against him in retaliation for his threatening her with lawsuits. (Docket No. 1 at 10).

         Sixth, plaintiff claims that he was denied showers for over thirty days, even though mental health officials approved him to take them. During his entire stay on suicide watch, he only showered four times. (Docket No. 1 at 16).

         Seventh, plaintiff states that while he was on suicide watch, the guards never exchanged his used smock or blanket for clean ones. (Docket No. 1 at 12). Each time he asked for a fresh smock or blanket, he was advised that none were available. He was offered a paper smock, but declined due to the cold. ...

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