United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
H. Sharp Chief United States District Judge.
Mardoche Olivier, a resident of Clarksville, Tennessee,
brings this pro se, in forma pauperis action against
the “City of Clarksville, Police Department”,
Deputy Chief f/n/u Gray, Darren Koski, and Bradley Holder,
alleging violations of the Plaintiff's civil
rights. (Docket No. 1). The Plaintiff seeks $100,
000 fines from the City of Clarksville and “the
officers, ” as well as attorney fees. (Id. at
Required Screening of the Complaint
Plaintiff is proceeding as a pauper in this action;
therefore, the Court must conduct an initial review of the
complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and dismiss it
or any portion of it that is frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim for which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. In assessing whether the complaint in this case
states a claim on which relief may be granted, the Court
applies the standards under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, as construed by Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009), and Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007).
See Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71
(6th Cir. 2010) (holding that “the dismissal standard
articulated in Iqbal and Twombly governs
dismissals for failure to state a claim under §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)] because the relevant statutory language
tracks the language in Rule 12(b)(6)”).
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.”).
se complaints are to be held to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, and should therefore be
liberally construed.” Williams, 631 F.3d at
383 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Pro
se litigants, however, are not exempt from the
requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989);
see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 F. App'x 608,
613 (6th Cir. 2011) (“[A] court cannot create a claim
which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his
pleading”) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted); Payne v. Sec'y of Treas., 73 F.
App'x 836, 837 (6th Cir. 2003) (affirming sua
sponte dismissal of complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2) and stating, “[n]either this court nor the
district court is required to create Payne's claim for
her”); cf. Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231
(2004) (“District judges have no obligation to act as
counsel or paralegal to pro se litigants.”); Young
Bok Song v. Gipson, 423 F. App'x 506, 510 (6th Cir.
2011) (“[W]e decline to affirmatively require courts to
ferret out the strongest cause of action on behalf of pro se
litigants. Not only would that duty be overly burdensome, it
would transform the courts from neutral arbiters of disputes
into advocates for a particular party. While courts are
properly charged with protecting the rights of all who come
before it, that responsibility does not encompass advising
litigants as to what legal theories they should
to the complaint, on December 9, 2016, after the Plaintiff
and Troy Lozano filed suit against the City of Clarksville,
more than one unidentified “officers” forced the
Plaintiff and Mr. Lozano out of the Plaintiff's car and
questioned the two men about the Plaintiff “calling
threts [sic] to the Mayor's office.” (Docket No. 1
at p. 2). The complaint alleges that the Plaintiff demanded
that the officers produce a warrant. (Id.) The
Plaintiff believes his Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth
Amendment rights were violated during this exchange.
(Id. at p. 1).
order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must plead and prove that a defendant, while acting
under color of state law, deprived him or her of some right
or privilege secured by the Constitution or laws of the
United States. Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535
the Plaintiff names Deputy Chief Gray, Darren Koski, and
Bradley Holder as Defendants. It is a basic pleading
essential that a plaintiff must attribute factual allegations
to particular defendants. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at
544 (holding that, in order to state a claim, a plaintiff
must make sufficient allegations to give a defendant fair
notice of the claim). The Plaintiff has failed to attribute
any conduct at all to Deputy Chief Gray. Similarly, although
the complaint alleges that “officers” forced the
Plaintiff out of his vehicle and questioned the Plaintiff
about threats to the mayor, the complaint does not identify
the officers involved in the December 9, 2016, incident by
name. Where a defendant is named but the plaintiff fails to
allege that the defendant engaged in any specific conduct,
the complaint is subject to dismissal, even under the liberal
construction afforded to pro se complaints. See
Gilmore v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 92 F. App'x 188, 190
(6th Cir. 2004) (dismissing complaint where plaintiff failed
to allege how any named defendant was involved in the
violation of his rights). Therefore, the Plaintiff's
claims against Deputy Chief Gray, Darren, and Bradley will be
assuming arguendo that the Plaintiff had identified
Koski and Holder as the officers involved in the event, as
relief for the alleged wrongs committed by the officers, the
complaint seeks money damages from the officers in their
official capacities only. (Docket No. 1 at p. 3). A suit
against a police officer in his official capacity is a suit
against the entity by whom the officer is employed. A fair
reading of the instant pro se complaint is that
officers Koski and Holder are employees of the City of
Clarksville or the City's police department.
Plaintiff has named the “City of Clarksville, Police
Department” as a Defendant or as two separate
Defendants to this action. However, the Clarksville Police
Department is not a suable entity under § 1983. See
Mathes v. Metro. Gov't of Nashville & Davidson
Cnty., No. 3:10-cv-0496, 2010 WL 3341889, at *2 (M.D.
Tenn. Aug. 25, 2010) (“[F]ederal district courts in
Tennessee have frequently and uniformly held that police
departments and sheriff's departments are not proper
parties to a § 1983 suit.”)(collecting cases)).
Thus, the Plaintiff's claims against the Clarksville
Police Department must be dismissed.
the City of Clarksville is a suable entity, it is responsible
under § 1983 only for its “own illegal acts. [It
is] not vicariously liable under § 1983 for [its]
employees' actions.” Connickv.
Thompson, 563 U.S. 51, 131 S.Ct. 1350, 1359, 179 L.Ed.2d
417 (2011) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
Under § 1983, a municipality can only be held liable if
the plaintiff demonstrates that the alleged federal violation
was a direct result of the city's official policy or
custom. Burgess v. Fisher, 735 F.3d 462, 478 (6th
Cir.2013) (citing Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 693, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611
(1978)); Regets v. City of Plymouth, 568 Fed.Appx.
380, 2014 WL 2596562, at *12 (6th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Slusher v. Carson, 540 F.3d 449, 456-57 (6th Cir.
2008)). A plaintiff can make a showing of an illegal policy
or custom by demonstrating one of the following: (1) the
existence of an illegal official policy or legislative