United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
TEROS A. SWEENEY, Plaintiff,
DARRELL SEXTON, and CITY OF KNOXVILLE, Defendants.
W. PHILLIPS SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are a pro se prisoner's civil rights
complaint filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 2] and his
application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis
[Doc. 4]. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's
request to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 4] will
be GRANTED. His complaint [Doc. 2] will be
DISMISSED sua sponte.
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), any
prisoner who files a complaint in a district court must
tender the full filing fee or file (1) an application to
proceed in forma pauperis without prepayment of fees
and (2) a certified copy of his inmate trust account for the
previous six-month period. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2). On
August 28, 2017, the Court entered a Notice of Deficiency,
advising Plaintiff he must either pay the required filing fee
or submit an application to proceed in forma
pauperis [Doc. 3]. Plaintiff then submitted a fully
compliant application to proceed in forma pauperis
on September 18, 2017 [Doc. 4], and it appears from that
application that he lacks sufficient financial resources to
pay the $350.00 filing fee. Accordingly, Plaintiff's
motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc.
4] is GRANTED and, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915, the Clerk is DIRECTED to file
this action without the prepayment of costs or fees or
security therefor as of the date the complaint was received.
However, because Plaintiff has failed to state a viable claim
for relief under § 1983, process shall not issue and the
action will be DISMISSED.
Plaintiff is a detainee in the Knox County Jail, he is
herewith ASSESSED the civil filing fee of
$350.00. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), the
custodian of Plaintiff's inmate trust account at the
institution where he now resides is DIRECTED
to submit to the Clerk, U.S. District Court, 800 Market
Street, Suite 130, Knoxville, Tennessee 37902, twenty percent
(20%) of the Plaintiff's preceding monthly income (or
income credited to the Plaintiff's trust account for the
preceding month), but only when such monthly income exceeds
ten dollars ($10.00), until the full filing fee of three
hundred fifty dollars ($350.00) as authorized under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1914(a) has been paid to the Clerk. 28 U.S.C. §
Clerk is DIRECTED to send a copy of this
Order to the custodian of inmate accounts at the Knox County
Jail to ensure compliance with these fee-assessment
procedures. The Clerk is also DIRECTED to
forward a copy of this Memorandum to the Court's
agency having custody of Plaintiff shall collect the filing
fee as funds become available and shall continue to collect
monthly payments from his inmate account until the entire
filing fee of $350.00 is paid. This Order shall become a part
of Plaintiff's prison file and follow him if he is
transferred to another institution. Plaintiff is
ORDERED to notify the Court of any change of
address if he is transferred to another institution and to
provide the prison officials at any new institution with a
copy of the Order.
the PLRA, district courts must screen prisoner complaints and
sua sponte dismiss those that are frivolous or
malicious, fail to state a claim for relief or are against a
defendant who is immune. See Benson v. O'Brian,
179 F.3d 1014, 1015-16 (6th Cir. 1999) (“Congress
directed the federal courts to review or ‘screen'
certain complaints sua sponte and to dismiss those
that failed to state a claim upon which relief could be
granted [or] . . . sought monetary relief from a defendant
immune from such relief.”). 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).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must
establish that he was deprived of a federal right by a person
acting under color of state law. Black v. Barberton
Citizens Hospital, 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)
("Section 1983 does not itself create any constitutional
rights; it creates a right of action for the vindication of
constitutional guarantees found elsewhere."). In other
words, the plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show: (1)
the deprivation of a right, privilege, or immunity secured to
him by the United States Constitution or other federal law;
and (2) that the individual responsible for such deprivation
was acting under color of state law. Gregory v. Shelby
Cty., 220 F.3d 433, 441 (6th Cir. 2000). Plaintiff's
complaint in its current form fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
complaint, filed on August 14, 2017, alleges constitutional
violations resulting from a shooting that occurred on May 31,
2014 [Doc. 1 at 3]. The Defendants are: (1) Officer Darrell
Sexton (“Sexton”), a K-9 Training Officer with
the Knoxville, Tennessee Police Department; and (2) The
municipality of Knoxville, Tennessee [Id. at 1].
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Sexton shot and tased him
multiple times after a confrontation broke out following
Sexton's attempt to take the Plaintiff into custody
[Id. at 3-6]. For these alleged constitutional
violations, Plaintiff seeks forty-five million dollars ($45,
000, 000) as damages for his injuries, pain and suffering,
mental anguish and as punitive damages [Id. at 4].
review of the Court's records shows that on May 19, 2016,
Plaintiff brought an action against Defendants Sexton and the
City of Knoxville regarding the same incident, alleging an
almost identical set of facts. Complaint, Sweeney v.
Sexton, No. 3:16-cv-00254-TWP-HBG (E.D. Tenn. May 19,
2016), ECF No. 1. On July 17, 2017, this Court dismissed that
action with prejudice for failure to state claims upon which
relief can be granted as to all defendants. See Sweeney
v. Sexton, No. 3:16-cv-00254-TWP-HBG, 2017 WL 3033071
(E.D. Tenn. July 17, 2017), ECF Nos. 10, 11.
broad doctrine of res judicata encompasses both
claim preclusion (res judicata) and issue preclusion
(collateral estoppel). J.Z.G. Res., Inc. v. Shelby Ins.
Co., 84 F.3d 211, 214 (6th Cir. 1996). Under claim
preclusion, a final judgment on the merits bars any and all
claims by the parties or their privies based on the same
cause of action, as to every matter actually litigated, as
well as every theory of recovery that could have been
presented. Id. Under issue preclusion, once an issue
actually is determined by a court of competent jurisdiction,
that determination is conclusive in subsequent suits based on
a different cause of action when used against any party to
the prior litigation. Montana v. United States, 440
U.S. 147, 152-54 (1979). Dismissal with prejudice is
considered a ...