United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
ROBERT W. MAHER, JR., Plaintiff,
BEDFORD COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. VARLAN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court is in receipt of a pro se prisoner's complaint for
violation of civil rights filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 [Doc. 2], a motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis [Doc. 1], and a number of other motions [Docs.
4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16]. For the reasons set forth
below, Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis [Doc. 1] will be
GRANTED, no process shall issue, and this
action will be DISMISSED for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted under §
1983. Accordingly, the Clerk will be
DIRECTED to terminate all pending motions.
appears from the motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis that Plaintiff lacks sufficient financial
resources to pay the filing fee. Accordingly, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915, Plaintiff's motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 3] will be
Plaintiff is an inmate in the Hardeman County Correctional
Facility, he will be ASSESSED the civil
filing fee of $350.00. The custodian of Plaintiff's
inmate trust account at the institution where he now resides
will be DIRECTED to submit to the Clerk,
U.S. District Court, 800 Market Street, Suite 130, Knoxville,
Tennessee 37902, as an initial partial payment, whichever is
the greater of: (a) twenty percent (20%) of the average
monthly deposits to Plaintiff's inmate trust account; or
(b) twenty percent (20%) of the average monthly balance in
his inmate trust account for the six-month period preceding
the filing of the complaint. 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(b)(1) (A), (B). Thereafter, the custodian of
Plaintiff's inmate trust account at the institution where
he now resides shall submit twenty percent (20%) of
Plaintiff's preceding monthly income (or income credited
to 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 will be DIRECTED to send a copy of
this memorandum opinion and the accompanying order to the
Warden of the Hardeman County Correctional Facility, the
Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction, and
the Attorney General for the State of Tennessee to ensure
that the custodian of Plaintiff's inmate trust account
complies with that portion of the Prison Litigation Reform
Act relating to payment of the filing fee. The Clerk will
also be DIRECTED to forward a copy of this
memorandum opinion and the accompanying order to the
Court's financial deputy.
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, 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), 1915(A). 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); 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 elsewhere”).
allegations in Plaintiff's complaint arise out of
Plaintiff's assertion that Defendants have violated his
constitutional rights by preventing Plaintiff from receiving
certain surgeries for his shoulder and/or arm and leg [Docs.
2, 10, 13, 14]. Plaintiff, however, previously filed a
lawsuit arising out of related and/or substantively identical
claims, which this Court dismissed for failure to state a
claim. See Maher v. Bedford Cty.
Sheriff's Dep't, 4:16-CV-21 (E.D. Tenn. Sept.
16, 2016). The doctrine of res judicata prevents “the
parties and their privies from relitigating in a subsequent
proceeding a controversy or issue already decided by a prior
valid judgment and from litigating piecemeal the same
controversy.” Westwood Chem. Co., Inc. v.
Kulick, 656 F.2d 1224, 1229 (6th Cir. 1981). The
doctrine consists of two related concepts: claim preclusion
and issue preclusion. Taylor, 22 F. App'x at
538-39; Baker v. Gen. Motors Corp., 522 U.S. 222,
233 n.5 (1998).
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. Under issue preclusion, once an issue is
actually and necessarily determined by a court of competent
jurisdiction, that determination is conclusive in subsequent
suits based on a different cause of action involving any
party to the prior litigation.
Taylor, 22 F. App'x at 538-39 (internal citation
omitted); New Hampshire v. Maine, 532 U.S. 742,
748-49 (2001); see also Doe ex rel. Doe v. Jackson Local
School Dist., 422 F. App'x 497, 500 (6th Cir. 2011)
(noting that claim preclusion requires “(1) a final
decision on the merits by a court of competent jurisdiction;
(2) a subsequent action between the same parties or their
privies; (3) an issue in the subsequent action which was
litigated or which should have been litigated in the prior
action; and (4) an identity of the causes of
actions.”); Vincent v. Warren Cty., Ky., 629
F. App'x 735, 740 (6th Cir. 2015) (noting that, for issue
preclusion to apply, “the issue raised in the second
case must have been raised, actually litigated and decided,
and necessary to the court's judgment in the first
case.”). “A completely duplicative complaint
lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact and, [is]
therefore . . . properly dismissed on the basis of res
judicata.” Taylor, 22 F. App'x at 539.
substantive claims Plaintiff seeks to bring in this action
are all claims that Plaintiff brought, attempted to bring, or
could have brought in his previous action. Compare
[Docs. 2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16] with Maher v.
Bedford Cty. Sheriff's Dep't, 4:16-CV-21 (E.D.
Tenn. Sept. 16, 2016) [Docs. 1, 35, 36, 37]. Accordingly, the
doctrine of res judicata bars these claims, Plaintiff's
complaint lacks an arguable legal basis, and the ...