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Thigpen v. Kane

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

September 5, 2017

JERRY ALAN THIGPEN Plaintiff,
v.
BRODY KANE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          Aleta A. Trauger United States District Judge.

         Jerry Alan Thigpen, a resident of Hartsville, Tennessee, brings this pro se, in forma pauperis action against forty-four (44) named defendants, citing 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Docket No. 1).

         I. Required Screening of In Forma Pauperis Complaint

         Because the plaintiff is proceeding as a pauper in this action, the court must conduct an initial review of the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) 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)”).

         “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.”).

         “Pro 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 pursue.”).

         II. Section 1983 Standard

         The plaintiff brings his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 “and other applicable United States Code” provisions. (Docket No. 1 at 2). Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 creates a cause of action against any person who, acting under color of state law, abridges “rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws . . . .” To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege and show two elements: (1) that he was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or 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); 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         III. Alleged Facts

         According to the complaint, on June 6, 2016, defendant Thomas Dewayne Byrd, tax assessor for Trousdale County, assaulted the plaintiff at a Trousdale County Board of Equalization meeting. The plaintiff was injured and received medical care for his injuries. The plaintiff's tripod and camera were damaged during the assault. The plaintiff subsequently was indicted by a grand jury in connection with the incident. (Docket No. 1 at p. 6). The plaintiff believes that his federal constitutional right to due process was violated because members of the grand jury represented themselves to be residents of Trousdale County, Tennessee, “despite proof to the contrary known to exist by some of the prior named Accused.” (Id. at p. 5).

         The complaint alleges that many of the defendants are engaged in “ongoing criminal conduct . . . .” (Docket No. 1 at p. 5). The complaint describes the criminal conduct as follows:

The Criminal acts have taken place in Trousdale County Tennessee, the smallest county in the State, which the de facto cartel, known as Hartsville/Trousdale County Government, in charge circumvented Tennessee's Legislative desires to divide for its absorption by two larger adjacent counties, Sumner and Wilson, by incorporation, via Voter Fraud, an “experimental” Charter form of Metro Government.
This scheme had the affect [sic] of chilling prior Legislative desires due to the resulting entanglements of Municipal Bonds and many other financial instruments, the cost of doing so ...

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