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Jones v. City of Memphis

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

April 6, 2015

CITY OF MEMPHIS, et al., Defendants.


JAMES D. TODD, District Judge.

On April 25, 2014, Plaintiff, Joseph Ellis Jones, III a/k/a Joseph Ellis Jones-Cage, III a/k/a Joseph Ellis Jone-Cage, III, booking number 13114127, a pretrial detainee at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Complex ("Jail") in Memphis, 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 April 28, 2014, the Court granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 ("PLRA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 4.) The Clerk shall record the defendants as the City of Memphis, [1] of Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, Shelby County, [2] Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, the State of Tennessee, Governor Bill Haslam, District Attorney Amy Weirich, Assistant District Attorneys Betty Wiseman and Megan Filer, Public Defender Alicia Jo Kutch, Judge Bobby Carter, Law Writers W. Mark Ward and David Louis Raybin, Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk Kevin Key, Jury Commissioner Clyde "Kit" Carson, Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham, Chief Jailer Robert Moore, Sergeant L. Hudson, Charlene McGhee, Wanda Boga, Lieutenant A. Sanderlin, Captain Kirk Fields, Captain Calvin Ester, Captain Amos Harrison, Unit Manager, Sergeant Dixon, Aramark, Barry Shaw, Pat Hart, Correct Care Solutions, Global Tel Link, Who's In Jail, Sheriff Page.aspx, JSSI and Jss systems, and

Plaintiff's complaint alleges, in its entirety:

Since April 22nd, 2013 and maybe before there has been a conspiracy to deprive me and others of all our civil and human rights. Mail has been tampered with. Phones have been manipulated. We have been treated inhumane putting our lives and health at risk. Our constitutional rights have been neglected and the law is not being followed as written. This place isn't up to health standards and is being run by itemidating [sic] task masters who strike fear in us and threaten us with the 4th floor or the hole. They are forging signatures on indictments.

(ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) The prayer for relief states:

I seek immediate relief to be exonerated of all charges, have my record cleared, expunged, and have all rights returned to me as a felony free citizen and not face reindictment nor double jeopardy. I seek actual damages of $400, 000.00 and actionable damages of $800.000.00 and punitive damages of $100, 000, 000.00. I also want all guilty parties to face lengthy jail sentences, sanctions, and hefty fines. They all need to be taught a lesson and held libel [sic] for their actions, wrongdoings, and dishonesty towards the citizens of this city, county, and state. I also seek $1, 000, 000.00 in compensatory damages and the same relief Reginald Neely (2010), Richard Tabb (2013) and Mario in Div. 10 Beasley Jan. 14, 14 [sic].

(ECF No. 1 at PageID 4.)

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)(i)-(iii).

In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the Court applies the standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 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). 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) (alteration in original). "[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. Any complaint that is legally frivolous would ipso facto fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Hill, 630 F.3d at 470 (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 328-29 (1989)).

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." Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327, 109 S.Ct. 1827 (interpreting 28 U.S.C. § 1915). Unlike a dismissal for failure to state a claim, where a judge must accept all factual allegations as true, Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50, a judge does ...

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