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Chambers v. Fratesi

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

January 2, 2015

TERRE FRATESI, ET AL., Defendants.


JAMES D. TODD, District Judge.

On June 2, 2014, Plaintiff DeAndrew Chambers, Tennessee Department of Correction prisoner number 300213, an inmate at the South Central Correctional Facility in Clifton, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, accompanied by a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis . (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) In an order issued on June 4, 2014, the Court granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 4.) On November 7, 2014, the Court directed Plaintiff to submit a signed version of his complaint. (ECF No. 5.) Plaintiff complied by filing a signed copy of the signature page on December 4, 2014. (ECF No. 6.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Shelby County Assistant District Attorney General Terre Fratesi; Letifia Cole and Latasha Sloan from the Tennessee Department of Childrens Services; and Memphis Police Officers M. Webb, Edward Bowen, and J. Fields. Each Defendant is sued in his or her individual and official capacities.

The complaint alleges that, on August 15, 2011, Memphis Police officers responded to a complaint of criminal assault. Fatimah Robinson told the police that her nine-year-old daughter had disclosed that, while she was spending the night with her aunt, Crystal Moore, Plaintiff, who was Ms. Moore's boyfriend, "entered the bedroom were [sic] she slept and touch her inappropriately. It is feather [sic] alleged that Plaintiff came into the room and pulled her shirt and bra down and started sucking on her breast." (ECF No. 1, ¶ 9 at 3.)

Attached to the complaint is a letter from Plaintiff's attorney to Defendant Fratesi, dated August 12, 2102, addressing purported deficiencies in the discovery provided by the State. ( Id. ¶ 10; see also ECF No. 1-3.) Plaintiff also attached a report from the Memphis Child Advocacy Center of an interview of the victim by Defendant Cole. (ECF No. 1, ¶ 11 at 3; see also ECF No. 1-4.) Plaintiff alleges that "Defendant contacted his Job and placed in his employer that he was a child predator and should not be working at a place that service children." (ECF No. 1, ¶ 12 at 3.) At the time, Plaintiff was employed at a Wendy's. ( Id. ) The complaint does not disclose whether Plaintiff's employer acted on that information.

Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief, a preliminary and permanent injunction ordering Defendants to remove the arrest report from the NCIS and all other databases, and compensatory and punitive damages. ( Id. ¶¶ 13-16, at 3-4.)

By way of background, on February 14, 2012, a grand jury in Shelby County, Tennessee, returned an indictment charging Chambers with one count of aggravated sexual battery. The case was resolved by nolle presequi on October 11, 2013. See (Indictment # 12 00765).[1]

The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint-

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails 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. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007), are applied. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). "Accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, the Court consider[s] the factual allegations in [the] complaint to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'" Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). "[P]leadings that... are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3 ("Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirement of providing not only fair notice' of the nature of the claim, but also grounds' on which the claim rests.").

"A complaint can be frivolous either factually or legally." Hill, 630 F.3d at 470 (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989)). "Any complaint that is legally frivolous would ipso facto fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Id. (citing Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 328-29).

Whether a complaint is factually frivolous under §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) is a separate issue from whether it fails to state a claim for relief. Statutes allowing a complaint to be dismissed as frivolous give judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless. Unlike a dismissal for failure to state a claim, where a judge must accept all factual allegations as ...

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