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Mesteth v. Milstead

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

August 2, 2019

FREEMAN A. MESTETH, Plaintiff,
v.
MIKE MILSTEAD, MINNEHAHA COUNTY SHERIFF, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; JEFF GROMER, MINNEHAHA COUNTY WARDEN, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; NELINDA, AMOUR MEDICAL PROVIDER, MINNEHAHA COUNTY JAIL, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; JENN HANTKE, LEAD MEDICAL STAFF AT MINNEHAHA COUNTY JAIL, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS, DIRECTING SERVICE IN PART, AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT IN PART

          KAREN E. SCHREIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Freeman Mesteth, filed a pro se civil rights complaint against defendants under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 on March 11, 2019. Docket 1. Mesteth requests leave to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Docket 2. Mesteth's motion to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. The court has screened Mesteth's complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and dismisses Mesteth's complaint in part and directs service in part.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Mesteth alleges that medical staff at the Minnehaha County Jail, namely defendants Nelinda and Jenn Hantke, “failed to provide adequate health procedures” by withholding “diabetic snack sack[s]” and did not provide adequate “insulin and various other diabetic medication and procedures” for diabetic prisoners. Docket 1 at 2, 4. Mesteth additionally alleges that he is not eligible for eye glasses even though he is an Oglala Lakota, and that he is entitled to health care and medication by treaty rights guaranteed by the United States government. Id. at 4. Rather than state an injury, Mesteth re-alleges in his complaint that he needs consistent medical care related to his diabetes and vision problems. Id. As relief, Mesteth requests $270, 000.00 for himself, as well as $50, 000.00 for his attorney, although he filed the complaint pro se. Id. at 7. Mesteth further requests that the Minnehaha County Jail change its medical procedures. Id.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The court must accept the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Schriener v. Quicken Loans, Inc., 774 F.3d 442, 444 (8th Cir. 2014). Civil rights and pro se complaints must be liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citation omitted); Bediako v. Stein Mart, Inc., 354 F.3d 835, 839 (8th Cir. 2004). Even with this construction, “a pro se complaint must contain specific facts supporting its conclusions.” Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985); see also Ellis v. City of Minneapolis, 518 Fed.Appx. 502, 504 (8th Cir. 2013). Civil rights complaints cannot be merely conclusory. Davis v. Hall, 992 F.2d 151, 152 (8th Cir. 1993); Parker v. Porter, 221 Fed.Appx. 481, 482 (8th Cir. 2007).

         A complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations . . . [but] requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “If a plaintiff cannot make the requisite showing, dismissal is appropriate.” Abdullah v. Minnesota, 261 Fed.Appx. 926, 927 (8th Cir. 2008); see also Beavers v. Lockhart, 755 F.2d 657, 663 (8th Cir. 1985). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must screen prisoner complaints and dismiss them if they “(1) [are] frivolous, malicious, or fail[] to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seek[] monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         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.

         Mesteth has reported average monthly deposits to his prisoner trust account of $0.25, an average monthly balance of $0.00, and a current balance of $0.00. Docket 3 at 1. Based on this information, the court finds that Mesteth is indigent. Section 1915(b) states, “In no event shall a prisoner be prohibited from bringing a civil action . . . for the reason that the prisoner has no assets and no means by which to pay the initial partial filing ...


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