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Faircloth v. Bowyer

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

December 10, 2019

BILL BOWYER, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court upon review of an amended complaint filed by plaintiff Christopher W. Faircloth, an inmate at the Farmington Correctional Center ("FCC") who is proceeding herein pro se and in forma pauperis. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss this case, without prejudice.

         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 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).

         "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." 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 555).

         This 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).


         On May 3, 2019, plaintiff initiated this civil action along with six fellow inmates. In the complaint, they alleged their collective rights were being violated because of unsanitary conditions in particular areas of FCC. More specifically, the complaint alleged the presence of black mold and pests, improper sanitization practices, and a lack of proper cleaning chemicals. Each plaintiff filed a separate motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Because the Court does not allow prisoners to join together and proceed in forma pauperis in a single lawsuit, the Court severed the plaintiffs and opened new cases for each one.

         In the case at bar, the Court conducted preliminary review of the complaint and determined it was defective and subject to dismissal, and gave plaintiff the opportunity to file an amended complaint to cure the defects and set forth his own claims for relief. Plaintiff has now filed an amended complaint, which the Court reviews pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         The Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff filed the amended complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Warden Teri Lawson, Assistant Wardens Bill Bowyer and Paul Blair, Deputy Warden Tami White, Cooks Melanie Coffman and Edmund Jennings, and Sharon Montgomery. He states he sues Lawson, Bowyer, Blair, White, Coffman and Jennings in their official and individual capacities. He does not specify the capacity in which he sues Montgomery.

         The amended complaint spans 105 pages. It includes sections plaintiff has titled "Statement of Claim," "Legal Claims," and "Prayer for Relief." It also includes copies of various declarations and grievance filings from plaintiff and some of the other inmates with whom plaintiff initiated this action, along with duplicate copies of some materials. However, despite the manner in which plaintiff prepared the amended complaint, the Court is able to discern his claims for relief and his factual allegations in support. Plaintiff alleges as follows.

         "Around August of 2018, plaintiff and several other offenders came together to deal with all the unsanitary conditions in A-dining at FCC," the area of the facility in which plaintiff worked. "All the parties included are plaintiff, Elvis Kelley, Dale Reed, Charles Lester, Virgil A. Stallone, and Anthony M. Greer." These individuals filed informal resolution requests ("IRRs") and grievances alleging roach infestation, black mold, and lack of proper cleaning supplies at FCC. The affected buildings were closed and fumigated, but the black mold remained and the roaches began to return.

         Plaintiff subsequently began working in "Main Production," where there are rats. "The Wardens" told plaintiff and the other inmates that no black mold was found, but plaintiff believes there is black mold and states he is OSHA-certified and can recognize it. While in A-dining, plaintiff and other inmates were asked to use Borax to clean what plaintiff claims was black mold. Plaintiff and the other inmates told Melanie Coffman they did not want to perform the job, and Coffman assigned the job to others. Plaintiff alleges that he and the other inmates could have been ...

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