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Griffin v. Metro Nashville Police Dept.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

March 3, 2015

NICHOLAS TERRELL GRIFFIN, Plaintiff,
v.
METRO NASHVILLE POLICE DEPT., DETECTIVE STEVE RAY, and DETECTIVE ARCHIE SPAIN, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

TODD J. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Nicholas Griffin, a pretrial detainee in the custody of the Davidson County Sheriff's Office, has filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants the Metro Nashville Police Department ("MNPD") and MNPD detectives Steve Ray and Archie Spain. The complaint is before the Court for an initial review pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"). For the reasons set forth herein, the complaint will be dismissed.

I. Factual Summary

The plaintiff alleges that he was stopped and searched by defendant Archie Spain on October 31, 2012. At that time, Detective Spain seized from the plaintiff two telephones and approximately $1, 650.00 in cash. The plaintiff asserts that this warrantless seizure violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

The plaintiff further alleges that he was then "taken downtown to be interviewed." (Complaint, ECF No. 1, at 3.) The interview lasted almost ten hours. The plaintiff states that he was told that he was free to leave but that a large officer blocked the door when he actually tried to leave. He also claims that he was never advised of his Fifth Amendment rights as required by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). When he told the police officers that he had nothing more to say and wanted to speak to a lawyer, the interview continued anyway, without his being afforded a lawyer at that time.

The complaint contains no additional facts, but public records available on line indicate that the plaintiff was booked by the Davidson County Sheriff's Office around 11:00 p.m. on October 31, 2012. He has remained in custody since that time on a charge of murder. See http://dcso.nashville.gov/Search/Details/639644?searchType=Person (last accessed March 2, 2015). His bond has been set at $750, 000.00 Id.

The plaintiff seeks relief in the form of the return of the cash seized from him, as well as compensatory and punitive damages arising from his allegedly unlawful detention.

II. Standard of Review

Under the PLRA, the Court must conduct an initial review of any civil complaint brought by a prisoner if it is filed in forma pauperis, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), or seeks relief from government entities or officials, 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Upon conducting this review, the Court must dismiss the complaint, or any portion thereof, that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, is frivolous, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). The Sixth Circuit has confirmed that the dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), "governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under [the PLRA] because the relevant statutory language tracks the language in Rule 12(b)(6)." Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). In conducting the initial review, the Court must read the plaintiff's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept the plaintiff's allegations as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).

III. Analysis

The plaintiff seeks to bring suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 creates no substantive rights but merely provides a remedy for deprivations of rights established elsewhere. To bring a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) a deprivation of rights secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and (2) that "the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of state law." Tahfs v. Proctor, 316 F.3d 584, 590 (6th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted); 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

A. Fourth Amendment Claim - Unlawful Seizure of Property

The plaintiff asserts that the defendants violated his Fourth Amendment rights by conducting a warrantless seizure of his personal effects on October 31, 2012. He filed the instant complaint on or around February 6, 2015.

Because there is no applicable "statute of limitations governing § 1983 actions, federal courts must borrow the statute of limitations governing personal injury actions in the state in which the section 1983 action was brought.'" Wolfe v. Perry, 412 F.3d 707, 713-14 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Banks v. City of Whitehall, 344 F.3d 550, 553 (6th Cir. 2003)). The statute of limitations for personal injury actions arising in Tennessee and brought under the federal civil ...


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