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Hall v. Nelson

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Central Division

June 29, 2017

MARVIN HALL, Plaintiff,
v.
LORI NELSON, STATE OF IOWA, ANAMOSA STATE PENITENTIARY, Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER

          Leonard T. Strand, Chief Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This case is before me on plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. No. 1), filed June 1, 2017. Along with his application to proceed in forma pauperis, plaintiff submitted a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a statement of his health problems (Doc. No. 1-1). Plaintiff filed an affidavit in support of his complaint (Doc. No. 2) on June 28, 2017.

         II. IN FORMA PAUPERIS UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 1915

         Plaintiff did not submit the statutory filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) (requiring filing fee). In order for a court to authorize the commencement of an action without the prepayment of the filing fee, a person must submit an affidavit that includes a statement of all the assets the person possesses. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). In addition, a prisoner must submit a certified copy of the trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent) for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint, obtained from the appropriate official of each prison at which the prisoner was or is confined. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2). Based on plaintiff's application, it is clear that plaintiff does not have sufficient funds to pay the required filing fee. Thus, plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis status is granted. See generally 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The clerk's office is directed to file plaintiff's complaint without the prepayment of fees and costs.

         A prisoner bringing a civil action in forma pauperis is required to pay the full $350.00 filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). The full filing fee will be collected even if the court dismisses the case because it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted or seeks money damages against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Because I deemed it appropriate to grant plaintiff in forma pauperis status, plaintiff is required to pay the full filing fee by making payments on an installment basis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1); see also In re Tyler, 110 F.3d 528, 529-30 (8th Cir. 1997) (“[T]he [Prisoner Litigation Reform Act] makes prisoners responsible for their filing fees the moment the prisoner brings a civil action or files an appeal.”).

         Concerning the computation of the initial partial filing fee, plaintiff is required to submit 20 percent of the greater of his average monthly account balance or average monthly deposits for the six months preceding the filing of the complaint. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Based on the information that plaintiff provided, I find that the initial partial filing fee is $6.65. Id. Plaintiff is directed to submit $6.65 by no later than July 17, 2017. Id. If necessary, plaintiff may request in a written motion an extension of time to pay the initial partial filing fee.

         In addition to the initial partial filing fee, plaintiff 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. Specifically,

[a]fter 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). Therefore, after plaintiff pays in full the initial partial filing fee, the institution having custody of plaintiff is directed to collect the remaining installments. Id. The clerk's office is directed to send a copy of this order and the notice of collection of filing fee to the appropriate official at the place where plaintiff is an inmate.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A pro se complaint must be liberally construed. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam); Smith v. St. Bernards Reg'l Med. Ctr., 19 F.3d 1254, 1255 (8th Cir. 1994); see also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004) (explaining that, although pro se complaints must be liberally construed, they must allege sufficient facts to support the claims that are advanced). In addition, unless the facts alleged are clearly baseless, they must be weighed in favor of the plaintiff. See Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992). A court, however, can dismiss at any time a complaint filed in forma pauperis if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). A claim is “frivolous” if it “lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); accord Cokeley v. Endell, 27 F.3d 331, 332 (8th Cir. 1994). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Accordingly, a court may review the complaint and dismiss sua sponte those claims that fail “‘to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. . . .'”, Parkhurst v. Tabor, 569 F.3d 861, 865 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555), or that are premised on meritless legal theories or clearly lack any factual basis, see Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 325. See, e.g., Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. at 27 (considering frivolousness); Myers v. Vogal, 960 F.2d 750, 751 (8th Cir. 1992) (concluding that a district court may dismiss an action if an affirmative defense exists).

         IV. COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, has submitted a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to redress issues that are related to his confinement. Jurisdiction is predicated on 28 U.S.C. § 1343. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), venue appears to be proper as defendants are located in this district and the events giving rise to the instant action occurred in this district. The statement of claim portion of the complaint indicates the following:

At 7:45-8:00 a.m., Mr. Hall, inmate ID Number 6905984, was having a seizure in his cell, I-13, [at the] Anamosa State Penitentiary. Mr. Hall's cellmate was not present at the time. Inmate Daijour Hall, [inmate ID Number 6510041, ] had come by the cell and witnessed that Mr. Hall was unresponsive. After Daijour Hall yelled Mr. Hall's name a couple times and received no response, Daijour [Hall] went to get the Correctional Officer. The [Correctional Officer] instructed Daijour [Hall to] go get the Sergeant as the [Correctional Officer] [ran] to aid and assist Mr. Hall. The Sergeant had called the Nurse's Station and spoke to . . . Lori Nelson and the Sergeant told Lori [Nelson] that medical assistance was needed in cell I-13 and that Mr. Hall was having a seizure. [Lori] Nelson told the Sergeant that she was not coming to assist because she believe[d] that Mr. Hall . . . was faking it. The Sergeant proceeded to inform [Lori Nelson] that Mr. Hall was not breathing. [Lori] Nelson again said that Mr. Hall was faking it and ...

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