United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CHARLES A. SHAW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court upon the amended complaint of
self-represented litigant Anthony Russell Wilson, II. Doc.
12. The Court previously granted plaintiff in forma
pauperis status and reviewed his § 1983 complaint
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Doc. 9. Based on that review,
the Court directed plaintiff to file an amended complaint on
a Court-provided form and in compliance with the Court's
instructions. The Court warned plaintiff that his amended
complaint would also be reviewed under § 1915. For the
reasons discussed below, the Court will partially dismiss the
amended complaint and will order the Clerk to issue process
or cause process to be issued on the non-frivolous portions
of the amended complaint. See 28 U.S.C. §
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, fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief. To state a claim
for relief, a complaint must plead more than “legal
conclusions” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere
conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a
plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere
possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 679.
“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 on its judicial experience and common sense.
Id. at 679.
reviewing a self-represented litigant's complaint under
28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court accepts the well-pled facts
as true, White v. Clark, 750 F.2d 721, 722 (8th Cir.
1984), and liberally construes the complaint. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); 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 complaints filed by self-represented
litigants 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) (refusing to supply additional facts or to construct a
legal theory for a self-represented plaintiff that assumed
facts not pleaded).
was a federal pretrial detainee when he brought this action
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his complaint, plaintiff
named six defendants associated with Phelps County Jail, in
both their individual and official capacities: (1) Phelps
County Jail Administration; (2) Sergeant Unknown Lorts; (3)
Sergeant Unknown Dowdi; (4) Correctional Officer Unknown
Jones; (5) Correctional Officer Unknown Reed; and (6)
Lieutenant Unknown Shultz.
alleged that on or around May 3, 2018, Sergeant Lorts found
plaintiff guilty of a disciplinary violation based on
accusations of Correctional Officer Jones without “any
fair evaluation of the facts.” Doc. 4 at 2. After the
finding, plaintiff was locked in a suicide cell “with
no bedding, no property (other than the clothing [he] was
wearing), no hygiene, no toilet, no sink, no shower, no food
and 24 hour lighting” for five days. Id.
Plaintiff also asserted that while confined at Phelps County
Jail, he was “treated differently than the other
inmates and taunted and threatened by Sergeant Dowdi [and]
Sergeant Lorts.” Id. at 3. Plaintiff alleged
his five-day suicide cell placement was in retaliation for
the many grievances he had previously filed about the
conditions at Phelps County Jail. Plaintiff described his
legal claims as: “cruel and unusual punishment,
deliberate indifference, and denied civil liberties and due
process at Phelps County Jail.” Id.
defendant Phelps County Jail Administration, plaintiff also
alleged he was deprived of his liberty and due process when
it “violated their federal contract according to title
18 U.S.C.A. § 4013, title 18 U.S.C.A. § 4806, and
also title 28 C.F.R. § 40 standards for Inmate Grievance
Procedure, Subpart A and Subpart B; where they have not
exercised any firm effort to fully comply with the
standards.” Doc. 4 at 4.
Court reviewed plaintiff's complaint under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2) and found many allegations failed to state
a claim. See Doc. 9. Plaintiff's official
capacity claims were subject to dismissal because he did not
allege Phelps County Jail Administration had an
unconstitutional policy or custom, or was deliberately
indifferent in failing to train its employees. Additionally,
Phelps County Jail Administration was subject to dismissal
because a jail is not a suable entity. As to plaintiff's
individual capacity claims, the Court found plaintiff did not
clearly state which specific factual allegations were being
made against each individual defendant. Because the plaintiff
is self-represented, the Court directed him to file an
amended complaint to cure the pleading deficiencies.
filed his amended 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint on October
22, 2019, against the same six defendants with spelling
changes and the inclusion of full names: (1) Sergeant Steve
Lorts; (2) Sergeant Scott Dowdy; (3) Correctional Officer
Charlene Jones; (4) Correctional Officer Sarah Reed; (5)
Lieutenant Matt Shults; and (6) Phelps County. Defendants
Lorts, Dowdy, Reed, and Jones are named in their individual
capacities only. Defendant Shults is named in both his
individual and official capacities.
asserts similar allegations as in his initial complaint.
According to plaintiff, on May 3, 2018, he was placed into a
suicide cell by defendants Dowdy, Lorts, Reed, and an unknown
officer. Once there, Lorts read a disciplinary report to
plaintiff accusing him of a conduct violation based on
accusations of defendant Correctional Officer Jones. Lorts
“informed [plaintiff] that [he] was guilty of the
accusation(s) in the disciplinary report and immediately
sentenced [him] to an incalculable amount of days in
disciplinary segregation and/or administrative
segregation.” Doc. 12 at 5 ¶ 1. “Lorts
demanded that [plaintiff] sign the accused disciplinary
report or either be denied the opportunity to appeal.”
Id. Plaintiff requested and was denied a “fair
evaluation of the facts.” Id. Subsequently,
plaintiff was locked in a suicide cell for
“approximately 5 days with no bedding, no property
(other than the clothes [he] was wearing at the time [he] was
placed in the suicide cell), no hygiene, no toilet, no sink,
no shower, no food, and a 24 hour lighting with nothing but a
sewage hole in the floor.” Id. Plaintiff
states he was allowed out of the suicide cell on the third
day when Lorts brought him upstairs to the Sheriff's
Department to be interviewed by a Deputy Sheriff
Jones. Id. at 6 ¶ 2. Plaintiff was
then placed back in the suicide cell under the same
conditions for another two days until he was removed, allowed
to shower, and placed in a “regular” cell.
Id. at 6 ¶¶ 2a-3. Approximately two weeks
and two days later, plaintiff was moved to a cell
“within the closet area of housing unit G, ” so
defendants Lorts and Jones could allegedly “keep him
isolated outside the normal operations of Phelps County
Jail.” Id. at 7 ¶ 4a.
alleges Lorts violated his due process rights by finding him
guilty on the disciplinary violation “without a
hearing, ” where plaintiff could have prepared or
presented exculpatory evidence in his defense, presented
witnesses in his defense, and possibly presented the Phelps
County Jail's videotaped footage of the event in
question. Id. at 5 ¶ 1b, 7 ¶ 4. As for his
five days in the suicide cell, plaintiff alleges the
conditions were “serious deprivations of basic human
needs and the minimal civilized measure of life's
necessities, ” such that the conditions constituted an
“atypical and significant hardship.” Id.
at 5 ¶ 1a.
allegations as to the “deliberately indifferent”
five-day suicide cell placement are directed at all five of
the individual defendants despite the fact defendant Shults
was not present when plaintiff was initially found
“guilty” of the violation and placed in the cell.
Id. at 5 ¶ 1-1a, 6 ¶ 2a. Plaintiff alleges
Shults and the other four individual defendants were aware of
the deprivations he was suffering and none of them did
anything to “remedy the unconstitutional
conditions.” Id. at 6 ¶ 2a. Plaintiff
also alleges Shults violated his “liberty
interest” by “establish[ing] disciplinary hearing
procedures for Phelps ...