United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MICHAEL E. COX, Plaintiff,
BENJAMIN QUICK, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Michael
E. Cox, an inmate at the Scott County Jail, for leave to
commence this civil action without prepayment of the required
filing fee. The Court has reviewed the motion and the
financial information submitted in support, and will grant
the motion and waive the initial partial filing fee.
Additionally, based upon a review of the complaint, the Court
will stay and administratively close this action pursuant to
the Supreme Court case of Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S.
384 (2007), based on the pendency of a state court criminal
case against plaintiff arising from the same facts.
U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)
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 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.
submitted an inmate account statement in support of the
instant motion. The statement begins with the period from
December 28, 2017 through September 20, 2018, on which date
plaintiffs inmate account was closed. The statement begins
again on June 11, 2019, indicating that plaintiffs inmate
account was opened with a $70 cash deposit. Also on that
date, plaintiffs account balance was reduced to zero after
four inmate bills were paid. There are no entries following
this date. Because the only relevant financial information
before the Court indicates that plaintiffs account balance is
zero, the Court will allow plaintiff to bring this action
without paying 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
or appealing a civil or criminal judgment for the reason that
the prisoner has no assets and no means by which to pay the
initial partial filing fee.").
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 may be
granted. An action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable
basis in either law or fact." Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989). An action fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it does not
plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). 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 assume the
veracity of well-pleaded facts, but need not accept as true
"[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements."
Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at
Court must liberally construe complaints filed by laypeople.
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). This
means that "if the essence of an allegation is
discernible," the court should "construe the
complaint in a way that permits the layperson's claim to
be considered within the proper legal framework."
Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015)
(quoting Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir.
2004)). However, even pro se complaints must 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). Federal courts are not required to assume facts that
are not alleged, Stone, 364 F.3d at 914-15, nor are
they required to interpret procedural rules so as to excuse
mistakes by those who proceed without counsel. See McNeil
v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113(1993).
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Detective Benjamin Quick, a law enforcement officer employed
by the Sikeston Police Department. He sues Quick in his
individual capacity. He alleges as follows.
evening of June 1, 2019, plaintiff had a physical altercation
with one Robert Steele. Steele punched plaintiff, and
plaintiff "cut Mr. Steele in self defense."
Plaintiff spent the night at a house, and the "next
thing [he knew] there was a warrant for [his] arrest from
Det. Quick who have been [sic] trying to get me to
snitch for him and who has been harassing plaintiff."
Quick went to the St. Francis Trauma Center and met with
Steele. Steele told plaintiffs niece that Quick told him to
identify plaintiff from a photo, and Steele also said he
never told Quick anything that appears in the probable cause
affidavit. Plaintiff alleges that everything Quick said in
the probable cause affidavit was a lie, that Quick wrongfully
stated that plaintiff had a long and violent criminal history
and should be removed from the community, and that Quick set
him up. In sum, plaintiff can be understood to claim that
Quick violated his Fourth Amendment rights by preparing a
false probable cause affidavit to use as a basis for an
arrest warrant. Moody v. St. Charles County, 23 F.3d
1410, 1411-12 (8th Cir. 1994) (holding allegation that false
affidavit was basis for arrest warrant is sufficient to state
§ 1983 Fourth Amendment claim against affiant officer).
Plaintiff does not describe the relief he seeks from this
Court, but he does state that his pending state court
criminal case should be dismissed.
to the complaint are copies of the probable cause statement,
arrest warrant, and other documents from plaintiffs state
court criminal case State of Missouri v. Michael Edward
Cox, No. 19SO-CR00525-01 (33rd Jud. Cir. 2019). These
documents show that plaintiff was charged with first degree
assault, unlawful use of a weapon, armed criminal action, and
another charge in connection with his actions against one
Robert Steele on June 1, 2019. The Court has independently
reviewed the records of that case ...