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Roger Baines King v. Mayor Jess Kesse; Granting Leave To Paul Schueth

September 24, 2012

ROGER BAINES KING,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MAYOR JESS KESSE; GRANTING LEAVE TO PAUL SCHUETH, CHIEF OF POLICE, PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS WINNER SD; AND DISMISSING CHIP SCHORDER, COMPLAINT IN PART SHERIFF OF TRIPP COUNTY; LORI KALENDA, JAIL ADMINISTRATOR; SGT. RICHARD BERTRAM; WINNER CITY OFFICIALS; COUNTY OFFICIALS; M.D. TONY BURG; AND TRENT SINCLAIR, ASSITANT CHIEF, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Karen E. Schreier Chief Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff, Roger Baines King, is an inmate at the Winner City Jail in Winner, South Dakota. King has filed a pro se civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Docket 1, 2.

Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), a prisoner who "brings a civil action or files an appeal in forma pauperis . . . shall be required to pay the full amount of a filing fee." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). The court may, however, accept partial payment of the initial filing fee where appropriate. Therefore, "'[w]hen an inmate seeks pauper status, the only issue is whether the inmate pays the entire fee at the initiation of the proceedings or over a period of time under an installment plan.'" Henderson v. Norris, 129 F.3d 481, 483 (8th Cir. 1997) (quoting McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997)).

The initial partial filing fee that accompanies an installment plan is calculated according to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), which requires a payment of 20 percent of the greater of:

(A) the average monthly deposits to the prisoner's account; or

(B) the average monthly balance in the prisoner's account for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint or notice of appeal.

King has reported average monthly deposits to his prisoner trust account of $320 and an average monthly balance of $90. Docket 4. Based on this information, the court grants King leave to proceed in forma pauperis provided he pays an initial partial filing fee of $64, which is approximately 20 percent of $320.

But the inquiry does not end there. The PLRA requires the court to screen King's complaint to determine whether any claims should be dismissed. Pursuant to the PLRA, the court must dismiss an action or any portion thereof if the prisoner has raised a claim that "(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)--(iii).

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A claim "is frivolous where it lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous when it is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory" or where the factual contentions "are clearly baseless." Id. at 327. The court may dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim when "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45--46 (1957). In reviewing a complaint under this standard, "[t]he court must presume that the factual allegations in the complaint are true and accord all reasonable inferences from those facts to the [pleader]." Valiant-Bey v. Morris, 829 F.2d 1441, 1443 (8th Cir. 1987) (citing Holloway v. Lockhart, 792 F.2d 760, 762 (8th Cir. 1986)).

Pro se complaints, " 'however inartfully pleaded,' [are] held to 'less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.' " Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)); see also Frey v. City of Herculaneum, 44 F.3d 667, 671 (8th Cir. 1995) (noting that "civil rights pleadings should be construed liberally"). Nonetheless, a pro se complaint must comply with the minimal requirements set forth in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which specifically require pleadings to contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Moreover, although a pro se complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must "allege facts sufficient to support the claims advanced." Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004). The court is not required to "supply additional facts, nor will [it] construct a legal theory that assumes facts that have not been pleaded." Id. (citing Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d 1188, 1197 (10th Cir. 1989)). Finally, a pro se complaint must contain "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). If the complaint does not contain these bare essentials, dismissal is appropriate. Beavers v. Lockhart, 755 F.2d 657, 663 (8th Cir. 1985).

DISCUSSION

"[T]o state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to show '(1) that the defendant(s) acted under color of state law, and (2) that the alleged wrongful conduct deprived the plaintiff of a constitutionally protected federal right.' " Zutz v. Nelson, 601 F.3d 842, 848 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Schmidt v. City of Bella Villa, 557 F.3d 564, 571 (8th Cir. 2009)). In the instant case, King claims that defendants denied him access to medical care, thus subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Docket 1. King also alleges that defendants violated his constitutional rights under the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Fourteenth Amendments. Id. To remedy these constitutional violations, King is requesting $10 million. Id.

For purposes of determining whether King has sufficiently pleaded a claim to survive initial review under ยง 1983, the court will assume that each of the named defendants who is being sued in his or her individual and official capacities was acting under color of state law when the alleged wrongful conduct occurred. To determine whether the alleged wrongful conduct amounted to a ...


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