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Prasil v. United States

July 25, 2007

FRANK J. PRASIL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, GUY BLACKWELL, RANDALL KIZER, AND BRUCE POSTON, DEFENDANTS
FRANK J. PRASIL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, GUY BLACKWELL, RANDALL KIZER, AND BRUCE POSTON, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas W. Phillips United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Frank J. Prasil has filed tort claims against the United States, and Bivens claims and conspiracy claims against defendants Blackwell, Kizer and Poston arising out of a criminal case brought in the Eastern District of Tennessee in which Prasil was indicted but was later dismissed. The defendants have moved to dismiss all claims brought by plaintiff, or in the alternative, for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, defendants' motion to dismiss will be granted and this action will be DISMISSED .

Background

The plaintiff is an inventor who developed a process for the recycling of ink. He was a client of the University of Tennessee, where he was receiving counsel and assistance in the development of his recycling technology. Prasil applied for and received a $390,000 research and development grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

As one of the requirements for the grant, Prasil needed to obtain matching funds from an independent source. He approached the East Tennessee Banking Corporation (ETB) and received a commitment for the necessary funding. Prasil informed the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, which was partnered with the Department of Energy in the grant program, of ETB's funding commitment. A short time later, however, ETB notified the plaintiff that it was withdrawing its financial support.

Prasil was able to obtain the needed funding from another source. In the meantime, ETB allegedly formed Environmental Ink, Inc., a company devoted to the development of processes that were very similar to those invented by Prasil. When Prasil learned of Environmental Ink, he attempted to force the company to cease and desist from exploiting his research.

Bruce Poston, the President of both ETB and Environmental Ink, sent a twenty-four page letter to the Department of Energy asking for a formal investigation into the grant given to Prasil. The letter outlined alleged irregularities in the grant application and questioned the use of grant funds. The University of Tennessee began an investigation and Prasil's grant was withdrawn.

The U.S. Department of Justice conducted an investigation to determine whether there was any truth in Poston's allegations. In August 2001, plaintiff was charged with making false statements to the Department of Energy and mail fraud. United States of America v. Frank J. Prasil, No. 3:01-CR-115 (E.D.Tenn) (J. Varlan). The case was delayed until 2004, due to plaintiff's health problems. In early May 2004, the United States began preparation for trial. It was discovered that the evidence establishing the mailing and venue for the false statements could not be found by state officials. Without the evidence, the United States was unable to prove the allegations in the indictment beyond a reasonable doubt, and the charges against the plaintiff were dropped.

On June 1, 2006 , the plaintiff, through counsel, initiated an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United District Court, Northern District of Illinois, against Guy Blackwell, the federal prosecutor who brought the charges against the petitioner; Randall Kizer, a special investigator for the U.S. Department of Justice; and Bruce Poston, the President of ETB and Environmental Ink. The action was transferred to this court on October 16, 2006. Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint alleged seven claims for relief:

1. Blackwell suppressed exculpatory evidence in violation of the plaintiff's right to due process;

2. Blackwell denied the plaintiff due process when he knowingly fabricated evidence;

3. Kizer denied the plaintiff due process when he knowingly fabricated evidence;

4. Blackwell, Kizer and Poston "formed an agreement to fabricate evidence" against the plaintiff in an effort to deny him due process;

5. Kizer violated the plaintiff's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unlawful seizure when he maliciously fabricated evidence which was used as a basis for ...


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