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Lewis v. Barnes

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division

October 30, 2018

MARK S. LEWIS ADC #650548 PLAINTIFF
v.
JUSTIN BARNES, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          KRISTINE G. BAKER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Mark S. Lewis, an inmate at the Barbara Ester Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction, filed this case pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Dkt. No. 1). Mr. Lewis filed this case without prepayment of the $400.00[1] filing fee or an application to proceed without prepayment of fees and affidavit, so the Court ordered Mr. Lewis to either pay the $400.00 filing fee in full or file a properly completed application to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 10). Mr. Lewis subsequently filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. No. 11).

         I. Application To Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), a prisoner who is permitted to file a civil action in forma pauperis still must pay the full statutory filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). The only question is whether a prisoner will pay the entire filing fee at the initiation of the proceeding or in installments over a period of time. Ashley v. Dilworth, 147 F.3d 715, 716 (8th Cir. 1998). Mr. Lewis filed his complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Dkt. No. 1). Even if a prisoner is without assets and unable to pay an initial filing fee, he will be allowed to proceed with his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims, and the filing fee will be collected by the Court in installments from the prisoner's inmate trust account. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4). If the prisoner's case is subsequently dismissed for any reason, including a determination that it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief, the full amount of the filing fee will be collected, and no portion of this filing fee will be refunded to the prisoner. See U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         Mr. Lewis has submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (Dkt. No. 1). Accordingly, Mr. Lewis' motion to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. Based on the information contained in Mr. Lewis' account information sheet, the Court will assess an initial partial filing fee of $45.20. Mr. Lewis will be obligated to make monthly payments in the amount of 20 percent of the preceding month's income credited to Mr. Lewis' prison trust account each time the amount in the account exceeds $10.00 until the $350.00 filing fee is fully paid. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         II. Background

         Mr. Lewis sued the Paragould Parole Office and Parole Officers Justin Barnes and Heather Steele under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Dkt. No. 1). He alleges that Mr. Barnes and Ms. Steele lied under oath, resulting in the revocation of Mr. Lewis' parole (Id.). Mr. Lewis also alleges that he made parole again after being revoked, but Mr. Barnes then wrongfully denied his parole plan (Dkt. No. 16). Mr. Lewis seeks damages, as well as wanting his life back (Dkt. No. 1).

         III. Screening

         Federal law requires that this Court screen prisoner complaints prior to effecting service upon a defendant. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim for relief, or that seek money from a defendant immune from paying damages should be dismissed before the defendants are served. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). 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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In reviewing the sufficiency of a pro se complaint under the Court's screening function, the Court must give the complaint the benefit of a liberal construction. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). The Court also must weigh all factual allegations in favor of the plaintiff, unless the facts alleged are clearly baseless. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992). Although pro se complaints are to be liberally construed, the complaint must allege specific facts sufficient to state a claim. See Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985).

         IV. Discussion

         As explained below, Mr. Lewis has failed to state a claim on which relief may be granted.

         A. Paragould Parole Office Is Not Subject To Suit Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         Mr. Lewis sued the Paragould, Arkansas, Parole Office (Dkt. No. 1). Section 1983 provides a cause of action against every person who, acting under color of state law, deprives another person of a federally-protected right. Because the Paragould Parole Office is not a “person” subject to suit under § 1983, Mr. Lewis' claim against the Parole Office must be dismissed. See Brown v. Missouri Dep't of Corrections, 353 F.3d 1038, 1041 (8th Cir. 2004) (permitting claims against individually named defendants but concluding that the Missouri Department of Corrections as an entity was not a proper party under § 1983).

         B. ...


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