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Jefferson v. Krewson

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

January 14, 2020

DAVID C. JEFFERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
LYDA KREWSON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOHN M. BODENHAUSEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on the motion of plaintiff David C. Jefferson for leave to commence this civil action without prepayment of the required filing fee. (Docket No. 2). Having reviewed the motion and the financial information submitted in support, the Court finds that it should be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Additionally, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will direct plaintiff to file an amended complaint.

         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, 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 (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).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff is a pro se litigant who brings this civil action against defendants Lyda Krewson and Alana C. Green. He assets that the Court has jurisdiction pursuant to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). (Docket No. 1 at 3).

         On August 23, 2019, plaintiff states that “the St. Louis Housing Authority did not perform an occupancy inspection on…an apartment in which [he is] already being billed, and owe, Ameren Missouri.” (Docket No. 1 at 5). He further states that the Cahill Apartments, a St. Louis Housing Authority property, required him to go on a waitlist, undergo a credit check, and a criminal record check “before being considered for actual housing.” Plaintiff notes that he has a “Veterans Affairs Housing Choice Section 8” voucher and that he is homeless. He also states that he is an “unemployed, disabled veteran.”

         Plaintiff seeks $74, 999 in damages.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff has filed this civil action alleging that the St. Louis Housing Authority did not perform an occupancy inspection on his apartment on August 23, 2019, and that he has been put on a waitlist in order to receive housing. Having reviewed the complaint, the Court has determined that it is subject to dismissal. However, as plaintiff is proceeding pro se, he will be allowed to file an amended complaint.

         A. Deficiencies in Complaint

         As noted above, in order to state a claim, a plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of misconduct.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 679. Plaintiff has failed to comply with this requirement.

         While plaintiff alleges that the St. Louis Housing Authority failed to make an occupancy inspection on August 23, 2019, he presents no facts to explain what the inspection entailed, or how the Housing Authority's failure to conduct the inspection injured him. Similarly, he has not established why his placement on a St. Louis Housing Authority waitlist is wrongful. “The essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party fair notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a general indication of the type of litigation involved.” Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014). The reviewing court looks at the well-pleaded facts in the complaint to determine whether the pleading party has provided the necessary notice, thus stating a claim in the manner contemplated by the Federal Rules. Parkhill v. Minnesota Mut. Life Ins. Co., 286 ...


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