United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
ABRAHAM A. AUGUSTIN and LORRANCE B. DAIS, Plaintiffs,
BRADLEY COUNTY, TENNESSEE, BRADLEY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, and JIMMY SMITH, Defendants.
Christopher H. Steger Magistrate Judge
R. MCDONOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court is in receipt of a pro se prisoner civil rights
complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 4),
two motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis
(Docs. 1, 2), and two motions to appoint counsel (Docs. 3,
5). It appears from the motions for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis that Plaintiffs lack sufficient financial
resources to pay the $350.00 filing fee. Accordingly,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, Plaintiffs' motions
for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Docs. 1, 2)
will be GRANTED. For the reasons set forth
below, however, no process shall issue, and this action will
be DISMISSED for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted under § 1983.
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”),
district courts must screen prisoner complaints and shall, at
any time, sua sponte dismiss any claims that are
frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim for relief, or
are against a defendant who is immune. See, e.g., 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915(A); Benson v.
O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir. 1999). The
dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and in
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554 (2007)
“governs dismissals for failure state a claim under [28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A] 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). Thus, to survive an initial review
under the PLRA, a complaint “must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570). Courts liberally construe pro se pleadings
filed in civil rights cases and hold them to a less stringent
standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Haines
v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must establish that he was deprived of a federal
right by a person acting under color of state law. Black
v. Barberton Citizens Hosp., 134 F.3d 1265, 1267 (6th
Cir. 1998); O'Brien v. City of Grand Rapids, 23
F.3d 990, 995 (6th Cir. 1994); Russo v. City of
Cincinnati, 953 F.2d 1036, 1042 (6th Cir. 1992); see
also Braley v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th
Cir. 1990) (stating that “Section 1983 does not itself
create any constitutional rights; it creates a right of
action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found
their complaint, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants violated
their constitutional rights by determining that Plaintiffs
had forfeited property and money that was seized in a
criminal investigation without properly notifying Plaintiffs
of the seizure and/or forfeiture as required by Tenn. Code
Ann. §§ 40-33-203 and 204.
Plaintiff Dais has already brought a civil action arising out
of the same underlying claim against Defendants Jimmy Smith
and the Bradley County Sheriff's Office. Dais v.
Smith et al., 1:11-CV-165 (E.D. Tenn. Dec. 5, 2011).
That action was dismissed as frivolous and for failure to
state a claim. Id. Thus, many, if not all, of
Plaintiff's claims are barred by claim and/or issue
as to Plaintiff Augustin's claims and to the extent that
Plaintiff Dais' claims are not barred by claim and/or
issue preclusion, it is apparent from the complaint that all
claims set forth in the complaint are time-barred. Congress
did not provide a statute of limitations for claims arising
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Accordingly, district courts
apply state statutes of limitations to those claims.
Harris v. United States, 422 F.3d 322, 331 (6th Cir.
2005). In Tennessee, a one-year statute of limitations is
applicable to § 1983 actions. Zundel v. Holder,
687 F.3d 271, 281 (6th Cir. 2012); Tenn. Code Ann. §
law, however, determines “[t]he date on which the
statute of limitations begins to run in a § 1983
action.” Eidson v. State of Tenn. Dept. of
Children's Servs., 510 F.3d 631, 634- 35 (6th Cir.
2007) (citing Kuhnle Bros., Inc. v. Cnty. of Geauga,
103 F.3d 516, 520 (6th Cir. 1997)). The Sixth Circuit has
held that a cause of action accrues and the statute of
limitations begins to run when an event occurs that
“‘should have alerted the typical lay person to
protect his or her rights.'” Id. at 635
(quoting Kuhnle Bros., Inc. v. Cnty. of Geauga, 103
F.3d 516, 520 (6th Cir. 1997)).
apparent from the complaint that Plaintiffs had notice of the
claims set forth therein much longer than a year before they
signed their complaint on January 10, 2017. Specifically,
Plaintiff Augustin states in the complaint that he first
pursued a case based on the claims set forth in his complaint
in 2012 [Doc. 4 p. 6]. Moreover, as set forth above, on June 17,
2011, Plaintiff Dais filed a complaint in a civil action
arising out of the same underlying claim regarding seizure of
property and forfeiture document that was dismissed as
frivolous and for failure to state a claim. Dais v. Smith
et al., 1:11-CV-165 (E.D. Tenn. Dec. 5, 2011).
for the reasons set forth above, even liberally construing
the complaint in favor of Plaintiffs, Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), it fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted under § 1983 as
all claims therein are time-barred. This action will
therefore be DISMISSED for failure to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted under § 1983
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915(A).
Plaintiffs are incarcerated in the United States Prison in
Atlanta (“USP Atlanta”), each will be
ASSESSED one-half of the civil filing fee of
$350.00. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1)(A) and (B),
the custodian of Plaintiffs' inmate trust accounts at the
institution where they now reside will be
DIRECTED to submit to the Clerk, U.S.
District Court, 900 Georgia Avenue, Room 309, Chattanooga,
Tennessee 37402, as an initial partial payment, whichever is
(a) twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly deposits to
each Plaintiff's inmate trust account; or
(b) twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly balance in
each Plaintiff's inmate trust account for the six-month