United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. HAMILTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Jason
Nickolas Smith 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 $7.40. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons
discussed below, the Court will order plaintiff to file an
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 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.
support of his motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis,
plaintiff submitted an affidavit and a certified inmate
account statement. (Docket No. 4). The inmate account
statement shows an average monthly deposit of $37.00. The
Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of
$7.40, which is 20 percent of plaintiff's average monthly
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 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
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).
is a pro se litigant currently incarcerated at the Cape
Girardeau County Jail in Jackson, Missouri. At the time
relevant to this complaint, however, he was an inmate at the
St. Louis County Justice Center (SLCJC). (Docket No. 1 at 2).
He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Named as defendants are the St. Louis County Department of
Justice Services, Unknown Rideout, Unknown Thompson, and
Unknown Rhodes. (Docket No. 1 at 2-3). The defendants are
sued in their official capacities only.
states that on June 12, 2019, when he was a pretrial detainee
at the SLCJC, Correctional Officer Rhodes called him out of
his cell while everyone else was locked down. (Docket No. 1
at 3). Officer Rhodes handed plaintiff an open legal letter
and told him there was a “present inside.”
Officer Rhodes also told plaintiff that she wanted to
“get mine” upon plaintiff's release. When
plaintiff returned to his cell, he discovered that the letter
contained “gloves with meth and THC.” On June 14,
2019, a confidential informant alerted correctional officers
to what had transpired. Plaintiff's cellmate, along with
another inmate, were “taken out first” by
correctional officers. Plaintiff then swallowed the gloves
containing the methamphetamines and THC. He subsequently
failed a drug test and was escorted to segregation. Plaintiff
advised the lieutenant that he was dizzy, then passed out and
was taken to the hospital.
alleges that he has “nightmares” about the
“sexual favors” Officer Rhodes wanted in return
for the drugs. (Docket No. 1 at 4). He also states that he is
“severely depressed and traumatized from the
events” that took place on June 14, 2019.
15, 2019, plaintiff states that Officer Rideout and Officer
Thompson picked him up from Barnes Jewish Hospital. He was
wheelchaired to a car in front of the hospital, and then
helped into the vehicle by Officer Rideout. Plaintiff alleges
that Officer Rideout did not place him in a seatbelt.
way back to the SLCJC, plaintiff began to feel dizzy again.
He further states that his “rectum was burning.”
When he reached down to touch his rectum, his hand was
covered in blood. Officer Rideout instructed Officer Thompson
to “turn on [the] lights and head to St. Mary's
Hospital.” Officer Thompson “took a hard left
turn, ” causing plaintiff to hit his head on the
passenger-side window. Plaintiff states that he woke up at
St. Mary's hospital. As a result of hitting his head, he
claims that he had “a huge knot on [his] C6 vertebrae,
” “nerve damage or [a] torn tendon under [his]
right shoulder blade, ...