United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO PROCEED IN
FORMA PAUPERIS AND ORDER DISMISSING CASE
ROBERTO A. LANGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Christopher William, the Living Man, filed a pro se civil
rights law suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 5 U.S.C.
§ 552 (Freedom of Information Act). Doc. 12. William has
filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. Doc. 2.
William also filed a motion to receive electronic filings and
a motion to serve summons at the United States Court's
expense. Docs. 3, 8. William includes AAA Collections, LLC,
in his amended complaint. Doc. 12. This Court grants William
leave to amend his complaint to add AAA Collections, LLC, as
a defendant. Thus, this Court's § 1915A screening
focuses on William's amended complaint, Doc. 12.
Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
federal court may authorize the commencement of any lawsuit
without prepayment of fees when an applicant submits an
affidavit stating he or she is unable to pay the costs of the
lawsuit. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). "[I]n forma
pauperis status does not require a litigant to demonstrate
absolute destitution." Lee v. McDonald's
Corp., 231 F.3d 456, 459 (8th Cir. 2000). But in forma
pauperis status is a privilege, not a right. Williams v.
McKenpe, 834 F.2d 152, 154 (8th Cir. 1987). Determining
whether an applicant is sufficiently impoverished to qualify
to proceed in forma pauperis under § 1915 is committed
to the sound discretion of the district court. Cross v.
Gen. Motors Corp., 721 F.2d 1152, 1157 (8th Cir. 1983).
to William's application to proceed in district court he
reported his gross pay and his take-home pay as $0.00. Doc. 2
at 1. Further, William reports that the amount of money he
has in cash and checking is $0.00. Id. at 2.
William's application shows insufficient funds to pay the
filing fee. Id. Thus, William's motion to
proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2) is granted.
Allegations of Amended Complaint
claims that on November 18, 2018, he submitted a message to
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul Tenhaken claiming that they "had
a friend in common, and that this person knew his whole
family." Doc. 12 at ¶ 1. William claims this was a
"friendly heads up." Id. William alleges
that City Attorney Kooistra called him and when William
returned the call Kooistra allegedly warned "that he
should no longer send such a personal message to Mr. Ten
Haken [sic]." Id. at ¶ 2. William claims
that in this message Kooistra "intended to conspire with
defendant Ten Haken [sic] to violate his inalienable right of
free speech." Id. at ¶ 3.
claims that on March 10, 2019, he sent copies of a document
to seventy-two city workers that included the following
language: " 'I bet the first person to say, 'You
can't fight . city hall' was a person who worked for
city hall who was tired of people fighting city hall all the
time. I say, you can fight city hall, you just need a bigger
gun, better bullets and harder armor, -Christopher, The
Living Man.' " Id. at ¶ 4. William
claims that Kooistra contacted him again and "warned him
to remove this quote from the document before sending it to
anyone else, essentially presenting once again, that he
intended to conspire with the defendant, Mr. Ten Haken [sic],
to violate the claimant's inalienable right to free
speech." Id. at ¶¶ 5-6.
claims that around December 29, 2018, he sent a Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) request to the City of Sioux Falls,
Inc., "a business run by Mr. Paul Ten Haken [sic]"
and asked for "all information available on record for a
brand[-]new technology currently being installed within the
limits of 'The City of Sioux Falls, Inc.' -The 5G
Cell Phone upgrade; and the plan to make Sioux Falls a
'Smart City'  as well as all information about its
new LED lighting system, " Id. at ¶ 7.
William claims he received an email in response asking about
incurring a record search cost and he replied
"That's fine. Go ahead." Id. at ¶
8-9. William claims the FOIA request was "largely not
answered" and he was charged with "$115.82, for
"14 hours of 'Multi-Media Support.' "
Id. at ¶ 10. William alleges he "offered
to settle this unlawful bill in the form of the only recently
discoverable means of making this payment lawfully that he
was aware of: coffee beans, at a rate of 1 whole bean per
dollar." Id. at ¶ 11.
claims on April 2, 2019, he received a bill of $116.00 from
AAA Collections, LLC, addressed to a "dead corporate
entity" known as "CHRISTOPHER BRUCE."
Id. at ¶ 13. William alleges that on April 16,
2019, he attempted to serve notice of a cease and desist
letter on Paul TenHaken's "personal secretary."
Id. at ¶ 14. William claims that when he
approached City Hall a security officer called him "Mr.
Bruce, " and William contends that he has not gone by
this name for four years and believes that the guard must
have been on the lookout for him. Id. at ¶14.
claims he received another bill from AAA Collections, LLC, on
April 24, 2019, addressed to the same "dead corporate
entity" for the amount of $120.90. Id. at
¶ 15. William alleges he filed an amended complaint and
sent it to TenHanken and argues that "someone of the
Clerk's office, or possibly a judge  contacted] Mr. Ten
Haken [sic] to tell him about his filing before I had chance
to email it to him." Id. at ¶ 17. Further,
William claims that two hours after sending the amended claim
sheriffs broke down his door, guns drawn, and arrested him
for "a single misdemeanor stalking charge" against
TenHaken. Id. at ¶ 18. William notes that this
"violation of my rights, will be filed separately."
Id. William asks for monetary damages (paid in gold
or silver) as well as injunctive relief. See Id . at
Screening and Dismissal Standards
must assume as true all facts well pleaded in the complaint.
Estate of Rosenberg by Rosenberg v. Crandell, 56
F.3d 35, 36 (8th Cir. 1995). Civil rights and pro se
complaints must be liberally construed. Erichon v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); 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);
Ellis v. City of Minneapolis, 518 F.App'x 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 F.App'x 481,
482 (8th Cir. 2007).
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). A complaint's factual allegations
must be "enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations
in the complaint are true." Id. at 555; see
also Abdullah v. Minnesota,261 Fed.Appx. 926, 927 (8th
Cir. 2008) (citing Twombly noting complaint must