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Reid v. West

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville Division

January 21, 2015

NIGEL MARLIN REID, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
TERESA WEST, ROGER OVERHOLT, CHRISTIAN NEWMAN, AL HERRERA, VICKI ARNOLD, STANCIL FORD, DANNY THOMAS, KAY SENTER, GARY CHESNEY, PAUL LEBEL, DENNIS ALVIS, CHRIS BIVENS, BOB GERET, BILL BRITTEN, ESCO JARRAGIN, HAMBLEN COUNTY SHERIFF DEP'T, MORRISTOWN POLICE DEPARTMENT, HAMBLEN, COUNTY, TENNESSEE, CITY OF MORRISTOWN, TENNESSEE, ANTHONY COX, HAMBLEN COUNTY GOVERNMENT, CITY OF MORRISTOWN GOVERNMENT, JASON PHIPPS, JENNIFER GENTRY, and CRAIG PRICE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. RONNIE GREER, District Judge.

This pro se complaint for violation of civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 was filed by Nigel Marlin Reid, Sr. ("plaintiff" or "Reid") while he was confined in the Hamblen County Jail, [Doc. 1]. Plaintiff has also submitted an application to proceed in forma pauperis , [Doc. 2]. On November 18, 2004, the Court ordered Reid to file a certified copy of his inmate trust account for the previous six month period pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) within 30 days. The order clearly notified plaintiff that if he failed to comply with the order within the time required the Court would presume that he is not a pauper, assess the full amount of fees, and order the case dismissed for want of prosecution, [Doc. 4]. Reid has not complied with the order. Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in form pauperis , [Doc. 2], is therefore DENIED and plaintiff is assessed the full civil filing fee of $350.00. Despite the warning contained in the order that the case would be dismissed for want of prosecution if the order was not complied with, the Court declines to dismiss the action on that basis in light of Reid's continued filings in the case.

I. Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A and 1915(e)

Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), Pub. L. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321, codified in 20 U.S.C. § 1915, district courts must screen prisoner complaints, including those filed while the plaintiff is incarcerated, and sua sponte dismiss those that are frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or are against a defendant who is immune. See, e.g., Benson v. O'Brian , 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir. 1999).

Responding to a perceived deluge of frivolous lawsuits, and, in particular, frivolous prisoner suits, Congress directed the federal courts to review or "screen" certain complaints sua sponte and to dismiss those that fail to state a claim from which relief could be granted, that sought monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief, or that were frivolous or malicious.

Id . at 1015-16 (6th Cir. 1999) (citing 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A). In screening complaints, the Court bears in mind the rule that pro se pleadings filed in civil rights cases must be liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner , 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Still, the complaint must be sufficient "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, " Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), which simply means the factual content pled by a plaintiff must permit a court "to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556). The Court examines the complaint in light of those requirements.

II. The Complaint's Allegations

Although plaintiff's handwritten complaint is both difficult to read and to understand, it appears that his claims arise largely out of two incidents-one on July 10, 2014, the second on October 13, 2014.

On July 10, officers responded to the Lincoln Manor Apartments in Morristown, Tennessee, after receiving a 911 emergency call from a young woman at that address. According to the caller, a young man at her apartment door delivered a message from the plaintiff, her ex-boyfriend, threatening to kill any man who became involved with the victim and the victim herself if she went to the police. The plaintiff and two other young men were located by police a few blocks from the victim's residence.

Witnesses from the apartment complex had seen plaintiff at the victim's property. The two young men admitted in a signed statement that they delivered the message from plaintiff, which described the sender as "Nigel, the Godfather and the Cherokee Blackfoot Mafia." The victim reported to police that she was in fear for her safety from plaintiff. Witnesses also reported seeing plaintiff on the premises on several occasions and a formal complaint had been made by the victim to the Morristown Police Department nine days earlier that Reid had been harassing and threatening her. An affidavit of complaint, [Doc. 1-2 at 7], signed by Detective Sergeant Herrera of the Morristown Police Department on July 16 charged Reid with stalking in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-17-315 and an arrest warrant was issued by a judicial commissioner. Reid pled guilty to an amended charge of harassment in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-17-303 on September 12, 2014, [Doc. 1-2 at 8], and was sentenced to 11 months, 29 days, suspended to time served with a balance on probation. He was ordered to complete a domestic violence counseling program as a condition of probation.

On October 13, 2014, Reid went to the lobby of the Talley-Ward Recreation Center operated by Morristown Parks and Recreation where he was verbally abusive to staff member, Jason Phipps. Phipps wrote an incident report describing the incident, [Doc. 1-2 at 2-3]. Reid came into the lobby announcing that he had won a lawsuit against the Morristown Utility System but Phipps told Reid he could not talk to him, apparently because of another lawsuit of Reid's against the City of Morristown. Phipps closed the door to his office and Reid "aggressively reopened it, " id ., causing a dry erase board to fall off the wall. Reid loudly announced to Phipps that he would be losing his job.

Reid left the building, but subsequently reentered and asked for a basketball. Reid was told that "free play time, " had ended and Reid stated he would return the next day. Reid was apparently questioning staff and attempting to "bully" staff, while one teenager was present. On the next day, Craig Price, Parks and Recreation Director, recommended that Reid be suspended for one year from Parks and Recreation facilities.[1] On the same day, Reid was notified by letter from Jennifer Gentry, Recreation Program Coordinator, that he was permanently suspended from the City of Morristown Parks and Recreation facilities and parks, [Doc. 1-2 at 5]. Gentry's letter was copied to Tony Cox, City Administrator, Craig Price, Director, Parks and Recreation, Frankie Cox, Recreation Superintendent, and Phipps.

On October 15, Lieutenant Vicki Arnold, Morristown Police Department, swore to an affidavit of complaint, [Doc. 1-2 at 4], charging Reid with disorderly conduct and an arrest warrant was issued. Reid was arrested and apparently released on bond. At the time, it appears Reid was also on bond for charges of aggravated assault and disorderly conduct pending in the Criminal Court for Hamblen County. On October 21, Circuit Court Judge Alex Pearson increased Reid's bond to $50, 000 in that case, noting that Reid's bond had previously been revoked and then reinstated, because of the new charges stemming from the October 13 incident, [Doc. 1-2 at 6]. On October 27, 2014, Reid pled guilty to the disorderly conduct charge resulting from the October 13 incident.

Although, as noted above, Reid's complaint is very difficult to understand, it appears that Reid claims he was falsely arrested on both the July 16 and October 15 warrants, and subsequently falsely imprisoned. Reid also claims that he has been harassed and slandered and that he has been unconstitutionally retaliated against by the Morristown Police Department, who arrested him because he ran for mayor or other public office. He appears to assert a claim that he was wrongfully suspended permanently from Morristown Parks and Recreation facilities and parks. Finally, he claims unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the Hamblen County Jail, including overcrowding.

III. Analysis

A. Suable ...


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