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Weaver v. Boyles

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

January 9, 2020

ALANA BOYLES, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Edward Weaver, an inmate at Southeast Correctional Center (“SECC”), for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the required filing fee. Having reviewed the motion and the financial information submitted in support, the Court will grant the motion and assess an initial partial filing fee of $15.60. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Additionally, as fully explained below, the Court will dismiss defendants Alana Boyles and Corizon Health from the complaint, and allow plaintiff to file an amended complaint.

         Initial Filing Fee Under Prison Litigation Reform Act

         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 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. See 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 paid in full. Id.

         In support of the motion, plaintiff submitted an inmate account statement showing an average monthly deposit of $78.00. The Court will therefore assess an initial partial filing fee of $15.60, which is twenty 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 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).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that medical personnel at SECC were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs-specifically, his hepatitis C (“HCV”) diagnosis-in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. In addition, plaintiff alleges that as a result of defendants' denial of constitutionally adequate care for his HCV, he suffered an acute illness and was treated in SECC's intensive care unit for nearly a week. He names as defendants Alana Boyles (Director, Division of Adult Institutions, Missouri Department of Corrections (“MDOC”)) and Corizon Health. He sues Boyles in both her individual and official capacities and Corizon only in its official capacity.

         Plaintiff does not allege whether he was incarcerated when he was diagnosed with HCV, stating only that he was denied treatment for this condition at SECC. At some point after this denial of treatment, plaintiff alleges that he began suffering from shortness of breath, light headedness, temperatures up to 103 degrees, and blood in his urine. His condition progressively worsened for five days until he self-declared a medical emergency.

         Upon arrival at the medical unit, he was treated by an unnamed nurse and admitted to the ICU. The nurse recorded plaintiff's temperature at 103 degrees and ordered blood work. Plaintiff alleges his blood work revealed very high liver enzymes and a white blood cell count of 2.5.[1] Plaintiff states that because of the results of his blood work, Dr. Tippen “wanted to send me to an outside [doctor]. As a result Jefferson City denied the [doctor's] request for treatment. As it is Jefferson City told the [doctor] to keep monitoring me and to give me water, ice water, and gave me a shot in the buttocks because I had no appetite and wasn't eating.” Plaintiff states that at some point during his treatment in the ICU, medical staff at SECC again sent for blood work, which showed plaintiff's liver enzyme levels had “climbed to 3, 000” and his white blood cell count had dropped to 2. Plaintiff continued to suffer intense pain, fever, light headedness, blurred vision, and dehydration. He developed fever blisters on his lips and mouth. For a week, plaintiff ...

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