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Borum v. Williams

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

January 21, 2015

MARTIN D. BORUM, Plaintiff,
B. WILLIAMS, ET AL., Defendants.


JAMES D. TODD, District Judge.

On September 15, 2014, Plaintiff, Martin D. Borum, Tennessee Department of Correction ("TDOC") prisoner number 301803, who is currently incarcerated at the Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville, 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.)[1] In an order issued on September 17, 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.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Memphis Police Officers B. Williams (# 11826), D. Hallum (# 12033) and B. Levi (# 12245) and Memphis Police Lieutenant KJ Jellin.

The factual allegations of the complaint are as follows:

On Friday June 6, 2014 I was charged with aggrivated [sic] arson. By the above officers causing me to loose [sic] my job and family. I explained to the officers that my home was intenteally [sic] set on fire by someone, I was told by one of my neighbors passing by. They told me that they were gonna bring me in for questioning under 72 hour investigation. But they altered my statement, changed my words around and charged me with a terrible crime I didn't commit. They violated my civil rights, and I want to pursue damages. Me and my family are very angry and we want justice. I was drug by my cousin, and dropped off.

(ECF No. 1 at 2.) Plaintiff seeks money damages in the amount of $250, 000. He also wants the officers involved to be brought up on charges and to have his criminal case thrown out. ( Id. at 3.)

By way of background, on June 6, 2014, Plaintiff was arrested on a charge of aggravated arson. See (Booking # 14120599). On December 4, 2014, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Borum with aggravated arson. See id. (Indictment # 14 06196). The criminal case is pending.[2]

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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