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Strader v. State

United States District Court, D. Kansas

October 30, 2019

JAMES C. STRADER, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF KANSAS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HOLLY L. TEETER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is a civil rights action filed by a prisoner in state custody. Plaintiff proceeds pro se and seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the reasons that follow, the Court directs plaintiff to file an amended complaint.

         The motion to proceed in forma pauperis

         This motion is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b). Because plaintiff is a prisoner, he must pay the full $350.00 filing fee in installment payments taken from his prison trust account when he “brings a civil action or files an appeal in forma pauperis[.]” § 1915(b)(1). Pursuant to §1915 (b)(1), the court must assess, and collect when funds exist, an initial partial filing fee calculated upon the greater of (1) the average monthly deposit in his account or (2) the average monthly balance in the account for the six-month period preceding the filing of the complaint. Thereafter, the plaintiff must make monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income in his institutional account. § 1915(b)(2). However, a prisoner shall not be prohibited from bringing a civil action or appeal because he has no means to pay the initial partial filing fee. § 1915(b)(4).

         The financial records submitted by the plaintiff show deposits to his institutional account but do not reflect the monthly balance. Accordingly, the Court has calculated the initial partial filing fee as $2.00, based on the average monthly deposit of $11.25 and rounded to the lower half dollar.

         Screening

         A federal court must conduct a preliminary review of any case in which a prisoner seeks relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of such an entity. See 28 U.S.C. §1915A(a). Following this review, the court must dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages from a defendant who is immune from that relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         In screening, a court liberally construes pleadings filed by a party proceeding pro se and applies “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

         To state a claim for relief under Section 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48-49 (1988)(citations omitted).

         To avoid a dismissal for failure to state a claim, a complaint must set out factual allegations that “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The court accepts the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. However, “when the allegations in a complaint, however, true, could not raise a [plausible] claim of entitlement to relief, ” the matter should be dismissed. Id. at 558. A court need not accept “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action supported by mere conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Rather, “to state a claim in federal court, a complaint must explain what each defendant did to [the pro se plaintiff]; when the defendant did it; how the defendant's action harmed [the plaintiff]; and what specific legal right the plaintiff believes the defendant violated.” Nasious v. Two Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007).

         Analysis

         The complaint, which lists 52 defendants and is supported by 159 pages of exhibits[1], does not comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The twin purposes of a complaint are (1) to give the defendants fair notice of the claims against them so that they may respond and (2) to allow the Court to conclude that the allegations, if proven, show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. See Monument Builders of Greater Kansas City, Inc. v. American Cemetery Ass'n of Kansas, 891 F.2d 1473, 1480 (10th Cir. 1989). Rule 8(a) states that a complaint “must contain (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, ... (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and (3) a demand for the relief sought.” In addition, Rule 8(d)(1) requires that “[e]ach allegation must be simple, concise, and direct.” The Court will direct plaintiff to file an amended complaint that complies with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         Plaintiff's amended complaint must be submitted upon court-approved forms. An amended complaint is not an addendum or supplement to the original complaint but completely supersedes it. Therefore, any claims or allegations not presented in the amended complaint are no longer before the Court. Plaintiff may not simply refer to an earlier pleading; instead, the complaint must contain all allegations and claims that plaintiff intends to present in the action, including those to be retained from the original complaint. Plaintiff must include the case number of this action on the first page of the amended complaint.

         Plaintiff must name every defendant in the caption of the amended complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a). He must refer to each defendant in the body of the complaint and must allege specific facts that describe the allegedly unconstitutional acts or ...


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