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Carter v. Hillsboro Treatment Center

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

January 7, 2020




         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Jamond Carter for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the required filing fee.[1] 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 $23.27. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will order plaintiff to show cause why this action should not be dismissed as time-barred.

         28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)

         Pursuant 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 Court each time the amount in the prisoner's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is fully paid. Id.

         In support of his motion to proceed in forma pauperis, plaintiff submitted a certified inmate account statement. (Docket No. 2). The account statement shows an average monthly deposit of $116.36. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $22.27, which is 20 percent of plaintiff's average monthly deposit.

         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 a pro se litigant who is currently incarcerated at the Northeast Correctional Center in Bowling Green, Missouri. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint names the following defendants: Hillsboro Treatment Center; Ms. Kenyetta G.; Mr. Scott B.; Ms. Erica D.; and Mr. Luke Unknown. (Docket No. 1 at 4-5). Defendants are sued in both their official and individual capacities. (Docket No. 1 at 5).

         At the time the incident described in the complaint took place, plaintiff was confined to the Hillsboro Treatment Center (HTC), Division of Youth Services, in Jefferson County, Missouri. Plaintiff states that he was placed at HTC as a ward of the court.

         While at HTC, plaintiff was placed in Cottage C. (Docket No. 1-3 at 1). Whenever a new group or staff member came to the group, it was customary for the residents of Cottage C to “circle up and introduce” themselves to each other. On the morning that defendant Kenyetta G. started as a staff member, plaintiff was in his “personal area, still getting [himself] together.” Plaintiff did not go to the introduction circle, and as a result, the rest of the group “called a circle” on him. At that point, plaintiff states that he saw Kenyetta G. staring at him intently.

         Plaintiff alleges that “a couple weeks” later, Kenyetta G. touched him inappropriately for “the first time.” He further alleges that Kenyetta G. “continued to sexually abuse [him], all the way up until the night she sexually assaulted [him] in the old visiting room.” Plaintiff states that the sexual assault occurred on or about July 31, 2011, on the 3:30-11:30 p.m. shift. He describes the sexual assault as consisting of sexually inappropriate touching and fondling. Plaintiff asserts that Kenyetta G. advised him that if he told anyone, he would be “locked up in DYS until [he] was 21.” (Docket No. 1 at 6).

         Afterwards, plaintiff states that he felt “hurt, weird, and ashamed.” (Docket No. 1-3 at 1). In order to get away from HTC, plaintiff decided to get into trouble. Thus, the next morning, he admits to committing “second degree ...

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