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Fallis v. County of Minnehaha

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

November 15, 2019

LOREN FALLIS, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF MINNEHAHA, STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, MIKE MILLER, IN OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS STATE'S ATTORNEY AND IN INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY; AND TRACY SMITH, IN OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS PUBLIC DEFENDER AND IN INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY; Defendants.

          1915A SCREENING AND ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT

          ROBERTO A. LANGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Loren Fallis, filed a pro se civil rights law suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Doc. 1. He filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and has provided the court with his prisoner trust account. Docs. 3, 5. Fallis's complaint alleges claims of malicious prosecution against the defendants. Doc. 1 at 2.

         I. Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Fallis filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis, Doc. 3, and a prisoner trust account report, Doc. 5, showing that he presently has a balance of $20.64. Doc. 5 at 1. His average monthly balance for the past six months has been $5.87. Id. 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). '"When an inmate seeks pauper status, the only issue is whether the inmate pays the entire fee at the initiation of the proceeding 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.

         Based on the information regarding Fallis's prisoner trust account and rather than requiring an initial filing fee of just $4, the court grants Fallis leave to proceed in forma pauperis and waives the initial partial filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4) ("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 fee."). However, this does not relieve Fallis from his obligation to pay the filing fee over time for this § 1983 case. In order to pay his filing fee, Fallis must "make monthly payments of 20 percent of the preceding month's income credited to the prisoner's account." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The statute places the burden on the prisoner's institution to collect the additional monthly payments and forward them to the court as follows:

After payment of the initial partial filing fee, the prisoner shall be required to make monthly payments of 20 percent of the preceding month's income credited to the prisoner's account. The agency having custody of the prisoner shall forward payments from the prisoner's account to the clerk of the court each time the amount in the account exceeds $ 10 until the filing fees are paid.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The installments will be collected pursuant to this procedure. The Clerk of Court will send a copy of this order to the appropriate financial official at Fallis's institution. Fallis remains responsible for the entire filing fee, as long as he is a prisoner. See In re Tyler, 110 F.3d 528, 529-30 (8th Cir. 1997).

         I. Allegations of Fallis's Complaint

         Fallis claims that he was subjected to malicious prosecution by the defendants and malfeasance by the defense attorney. Doc. 1 at 2. He believes that the State proceeded against him without an indictment and the "[d]efense and State are with knowledge of the suicide of [his] co-defendant," whom he claims is "most likely [the] one that holds guilt." Id. Fallis has not filed a petition for habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, but instead a § 1983 suit requesting damages for pain and suffering in the amount of $250, 000. Id. at 2-3. He notes that he is suing all of the defendants in their official and individual capacities. Id. at 2. Further, he claims to have exhausted all available administrative remedies. Id.

         II. Screening and Dismissal Standards

         The "[c]ourt must assume as true all facts well pleaded in the complaint." Estate of Rosenberg v. Crandell, 56 F.3d 35, 36 (8th Cir. 1995). Civil rights and pro se complaints must be liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Bediako v. Stein Mart, Inc., 354 F.3d 835, 839 (8th Cir. 2004). Even with this liberal 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 complaint does not contain these bare essentials, dismissal is appropriate. Beavers v. Lockhart,755 F.2d 657, 663 (8th Cir. 1985). Twombly requires that a complaint's "[f]actual 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." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (footnote and citation omitted); see also Abdullah v. Minnesota, 261 Fed.Appx. 926, 927 (8th Cir. 2008) (noting that a complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations regarding all material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory). Under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915A, the court must screen prisoner complaints and dismiss them if they are "(1) frivolous, malicious, or ...


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