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Lewis v. Spaulding

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 16, 2018




         I. Introduction

         On November 13, 2018, Plaintiff Kenneth Wayne Lewis (“Lewis”), an inmate now in custody at FMC Devens, filed his self-prepared complaint. (Dkt. No. 1, Compl.). With the complaint, Lewis filed an affidavit (Dkt. No. 2, Aff.) and a one-page motion seeking immediate relief. (Dkt. No. 3, Pl.'s TRO).

         Plaintiff's pro se, seven-page complaint is handwritten and single spaced. Compl. It identifies as defendants Warden Spaulding and Unit Manager-N3. Id. The complaint is accompanied by eight pages of exhibits concerning Lewis' criminal sentence and pre-sentence report. Id. The complaint contains pages of paragraphs (numbered and unnumbered) covering myriad alleged details of Lewis' conviction, his former incarceration at FCI Ft. Dix, and his conditions of confinement at FMC Devens. Id. As best can be gleaned from the complaint, Lewis alleges that (1) he was denied access to the court, (2) he was forcibly transferred from FCI Fort Dix to FMC Devens without court order; (3) he is restricted to a mental unit at FMC Devens; (4) his Inmate Central File at the Federal Bureau of Prisons contains inaccurate information; (5) Warden Spaulding and the Unit Manager fail to answer or respond to Lewis' inmate request forms; and (6)

         he is falsely imprisoned under a criminal sentence that that was based upon an inaccurate pre-sentence report. Id. Lewis describes his medical condition as consisting of a “leaking valve” and complains that his medical records have been falsified. Id. at p. 6. For relief, Lewis seeks, among other things, (1) transfer to a “mental unit” and/or “camp” status; (2) indigent status in order to receive free copies and postage; (3) removal of falsified records from his “central” files; (4) provision of documents to the chief of probation for the Central District of Illinois to allow for Lewis' release; (5) restitution for kidnapping, false imprisonment and mail fraud; and (6) monetary damages. Id. p. 6 - 7.

         In his motion seeking immediate relief, Lewis represents that because of his heart condition, he wears a LifeVest. Pl.'s TRO. He states that the LifeVest monitors his heart functions daily and that a report should be sent daily. Id. He contends that in the event of a medical emergency at night, the staff would be unable to hear him because he is locked in a cell without a functioning intercom system. Id. He seeks immediate transfer to “the camp” and again contends that he is falsely imprisoned. Id.

         For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motion for immediate relief is denied without prejudice and he is advised that if he wishes to proceed with this action, he must file an amended complaint accompanied by an application to proceed without prepayment of fees and affidavit with a copy of his prison account statement. The Clerk is directed to send a copy of this Memorandum and Order to Warden Spaulding and legal counsel with a request for a status report to be filed.

         II. Discussion

         A. Filing Fee

         As an initial matter, Plaintiff filed this civil action but failed to pay the filing fee or to seek a waiver thereof. A party bringing a civil action must either (1) pay the $350.00 filing fee and the $50.00 administrative fee, see 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a); or (2) seek leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (proceedings in forma pauperis). Where, as here, the plaintiff is a prisoner, a motion for waiver of prepayment of the filing fee must be accompanied by “a certified copy of the trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent) for the prisoner for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint . . . obtained from the appropriate official of each prison at which the prisoner is or was confined.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2).

         Unlike other civil litigants, prisoner plaintiffs are not entitled to a complete waiver of the filing fee, notwithstanding the grant of in forma pauperis status. Based on the information contained in the prison account statement, the Court will direct the appropriate prison official to withdraw an initial partial payment from the plaintiff's account, followed by payments on a monthly basis until the entire $350.00 filing fee is paid in full. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)-(2). Even if the action is dismissed upon a preliminary screening, see 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A, the plaintiff remains obligated to pay the filing fee, see McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607 (6th Cir. 1997) (§ 1915(b)(1) compels the payment of the fee at the moment the complaint is filed).

         If Plaintiff wishes to proceed with this action, he will be granted additional time either to (1) pay the $400.00 filing and administrative fees; or (2) file an application to proceed in forma pauperis accompanied by a certified prison account statement.

         B. Preliminary Screening of the Complaint

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, prisoner complaints in civil actions that seek redress from a governmental entity or officers or employees of a governmental entity are subject to screening. Section 1915A authorizes federal courts to dismiss a complaint sua sponte if the claims therein lack an arguable basis in law or in fact, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915A(b). In conducting this review, ...

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