United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
O. Hickey United States District Judge
Gerral Schray Stuart filed this civil rights action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff proceeds pro se
and in forma pauperis. The case is currently before
the Court for preservice screening under the provisions of
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”).
Pursuant to the PLRA, the Court has the obligation to screen
any complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a
governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental
entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
January 10, 2018, Plaintiff filed his Complaint. (ECF No. 1).
He is currently incarcerated in the Miller County Detention
Center (“MCDC”) as a pre-trial detainee.
Plaintiff has named Nancy Combs and Officer Cobwell as
Defendants in this action, and makes two claims against them.
First, Plaintiff claims that his constitutional rights were
violated on December 11, 2017, when Defendant Cobwell told
him it was Defendant Combs's responsibility to return his
“legal paperwork” to him. (ECF No. 1, p. 4). His
second claim is that Defendant Combs refused to “get
[him] back [his] legal documents on time on an ongoing
case.” (ECF No. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff alleges no injury
with respect to either of these two claims. In what appears
to be a handwritten grievance attached to the Complaint,
Plaintiff specifically alleges that on December 11, 2017,
Defendant Cobwell mishandled his “Certificate of Inmate
Amount and Assets Form” and that Defendant Combs
refused to sign off on this paperwork. (ECF No. 1, p.
asserts his claims against Defendants in their individual and
official capacities. Although he has not alleged any specific
injury as a result of the conduct of Defendants, Plaintiff
seeks compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $10,
000, 000, in addition to the firing of all officers who did
not properly preform their jobs. (ECF No. 1, p. 7).
the PLRA, the court is obligated to screen the case prior to
service of process being issued. The Court must dismiss a
complaint, or any portion of it, if it: (1) contains claims
that are frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in
law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989). A claim fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted if it does not allege “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). “In evaluating whether a pro
se plaintiff has asserted sufficient facts to state a
claim, we hold ‘a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded . . . to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Jackson
v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)).
However, even a pro se plaintiff must allege
specific facts sufficient to support a claim. Martin v.
Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985).
has asserted claims against Defendants in both their
individual and official capacities. For purposes of this
screening order, the Court will first examine Plaintiff's
individual capacity claims. The Court will then examine
Plaintiff's official capacity claims.
Individual Capacity Claims
claims that Defendants mishandled and refused to sign his
Certificate of Inmate Account and Assets form on December 11,
2017. In order to complete an application to proceed in
forma pauperis in a section 1983 lawsuit, a prisoner is
required to complete the Certificate and obtain the signature
of an authorized prison officer, confirming how much money
the prisoner has in his account and indicating what the
prisoner's monthly average account balance has been for
the previous six months.
Supreme Court has held that “the fundamental
constitutional right of access to the courts requires prison
authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing
of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with
adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons
trained in the law.” Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S.
817, 828 (1977). Prison officials must provide inmates with
“meaningful access to the courts.” Id.
at 824. To prevail on a denial-of-access-to-the-courts claim,
a prisoner must show that “the state has not provided
an opportunity to litigate a claim challenging the
prisoner's sentence or conditions of confinement in a
court of law, which resulted in actual injury, that is, the
hindrance of a nonfrivolous and arguably meritorious
underlying legal claim.” Hartsfield v.
Nichols, 511 F.3d 826, 831 (8th Cir. 2008) (citations
Plaintiff's claims fail because he has not alleged that
he suffered actual injury or prejudice. Plaintiff alleges
that Defendants mishandled and refused to sign his
Certificate of Inmate Account and Assets on December 11,
2017. Plaintiff filed one section 1983 suit with this Court
before that date (Stuart v. Sanders, No.
4:17-cv-4107-SOH, filed on November 30, 2017), and four
section 1983 suits with this Court after that date
(Stuart v. King, No. 4:17-cv-4119-SOH and Stuart
v. Cobwell, No. 4:17-cv-4120-SOH, both filed on December
20, 2017, and the instant case and Stuart v. Smith,
No. 4:18-cv-4006-SOH, both filed on January 10, 2018). In
each of these ongoing cases, Plaintiff submitted a
Certificate of Inmate Account and Assets that was signed and
completed by Defendant Combs. The Court accepted the
Certificate and granted Plaintiff's motions to proceed
in forma pauperis in each of these lawsuits.
Plaintiff has failed to identify the ongoing court proceeding
related to his claims and has failed to allege how
Defendants' actions denied him access to the courts.
Further, Plaintiff has failed to ...