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Moses v. Oldham

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

December 8, 2017

PAMELA MOSES, Plaintiff,
v.
SHERIFF WILLIAM OLDHAM, in his personal and official capacity; SHELBY CTY. SHERIFF OFFICE; SGT. CHAD CUNNINGHAM, in his personal and official capacity; STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL HERBERT SLATERY, in his personal and official capacity; DISTRICT ATTTORNEY GENERAL AMY WEIRICH, in her personal and official capacity; JOHN DOE; JOHN DOE; and JANE DOE, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT AND ORDERING PARTIAL SUA SPONTE DISMISSAL

          John T. Fowlkes, Jr. United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Pamela Moses' Objections to the Report and Recommendation; Plaintiff filed her Objections on October 26, 2017. (ECF No. 8.) On September 18, 2017, Plaintiff filed her pro se Complaint titled Complaint Damages for Malicious Prosecution, Abuse of Process and Declaratory Relief. (ECF No. 1.) In her Complaint, Plaintiff asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Tennessee law resulting from her warrantless arrest in September 2016 and subsequent prosecution. (ECF Nos. 1 & 9.) Accompanying Plaintiff's Complaint is her pro se motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 2.) In accordance with Administrative Order 2013-05, the case was assigned to the Chief Magistrate Judge for management of all pretrial matters, including screening of the Complaint to determine whether or not summons shall be issued by the Clerk pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and Local Rule 4.1(b)(2). (ECF No. 7, 1-2.) On October 10, 2017, the Chief Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation granting Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed In forma Pauperis and otherwise recommending that (1) Plaintiff's claims against the SCSO, Sheriff Oldham, and Sgt. Cunningham in his official capacity be dismissed sua sponte for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), and (2) Plaintiff should be allowed to proceed on her Section 1983 and state-law claims against Sgt. Cunningham in his personal capacity and service on the claims should be issued accordingly. (ECF No. 7.)

         On October 26, 2017, Plaintiff filed her Objections to the Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 8.) On the same date, Plaintiff also filed her Amended Complaint, entered as a Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint. (See ECF No. 9.) Upon de novo review of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, the Court finds as follows: (1) Plaintiff's ADA/ADDA claims, Title VII claims, equal protection claims, and due process claims under the Fifth Amendment, should be dismissed for failure to state a claim; (2) as to Plaintiff's claim against the Shelby County Sheriff's Office (“SCSO”), construed instead against Shelby County, Plaintiff should be allowed to proceed on all of her Section 1983 claims and on her state law harassment claim; (3) Plaintiff's claims against Sheriff Oldham and Sgt. Cunningham should be dismissed to the extent they are official capacity suits and allowed to proceed to the degree the claims allege the personal liability of each Defendant; and (4) Plaintiff's claims against Attorney General Herbert Slatery and District Attorney Amy Weirich should be dismissed for failure to state a claim.

         I. FINDINGS OF FACT

         In her Report and Recommendation, the Chief Magistrate Judge provides, and this Court adopts and incorporates, proposed findings of fact in this case. (ECF No. 7, 2-6.) The Court additionally incorporates into its analysis changes made in Plaintiffs pleadings through her Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint, which is also construed as her Amended Complaint.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Congress passed 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) “to relieve some of the burden on the federal courts by permitting the assignment of certain district court duties to magistrates.” United States v. Curtis, 237 F.3d 598, 602 (6th Cir. 2001). Pursuant to the provision, magistrate judges may hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the Court, except various dispositive motions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). Upon hearing a pending matter, “[T]he magistrate judge must enter a recommended disposition, including, if appropriate, proposed findings of fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(1); see also Baker v. Peterson, 67 F. App'x 308, 310 (6th Cir. 2003). Any party who disagrees with a magistrate's proposed findings and recommendation may file written objections to the report and recommendation. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2).

         The standard of review that is applied by the district court depends on the nature of the matter considered by the magistrate judge. See Baker v. Peterson, 67 F. App'x 308, 310 (6th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted) (“A district court normally applies a ‘clearly erroneous or contrary to law' standard of review for nondispositive preliminary measures. A district court must review dispositive motions under the de novo standard.”). Upon review of the evidence, the district court may accept, reject, or modify the proposed findings or recommendations of the Magistrate Judge. Brown v. Board of Educ, 47 F.Supp.3d 665, 674 (W.D. Tenn. 2014); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The court “may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions.” Moses v. Gardner, No. 2:14-cv-2706-SHL-dkv, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29701, at *3 (W.D. Tenn. Mar. 11, 2015). A district judge should adopt the findings and rulings of the magistrate judge to which no specific objection is filed. Brown, 47 F.Supp.3d at 674. Moreover, “Overly general objections do not satisfy the objection requirement.” Spencer v. Bouchard, 449 F.3d 721, 725 (6th Cir. 2006). Objections “must be clear enough to enable the district court to discern those issues that are dispositive and contentious.” Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). Thus, objections disputing the correctness of the magistrate's recommendation but failing to specify the findings believed to be in error are too general. See Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995).

         A. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) Screening

         Pursuant to Local Rule 4.1, service will not issue in a pro se case where the pro se plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis until the complaint has been screened under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). LR 4.1(b). Specifically, courts are required to screen in forma pauperis complaints and dismiss any complaint, or portion thereof, if the allegation of poverty is untrue or if the action (i) is frivolous or malicious, (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         B. Standard of Review for Failure to State a Claim

         In assessing whether Plaintiffs Complaint states a claim upon which relief may be granted, the standards under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007), are applied. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470 (6th Cir. 2010). “Accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, the Court ‘considers] 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) (alteration in original) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). Pleadings that are no more than conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Id.; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3. Additionally, although not free from basic pleading requirements, pro se pleadings are “held ‘to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ' and should therefore be liberally construed.” Curtin, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 F. App'x 608, 613 (6th Cir. 2011) (affirming that a court cannot create a claim which a plaintiff has not spelled out in their pleading).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Objections

         As a preliminary matter, the Court finds Plaintiff's Objections to the Report and Recommendation are clearly general in nature, ambiguous and lack sufficient specificity for this Court to render an analysis. As such, the Court disregards these general objections. See Miller, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995). In condemning overly-general objections, the Sixth Circuit, in Spencer v. Bouchard, affirmed that objections disputing the correctness of the magistrate's recommendation but failing to specify the findings believed to be in error are too general. Spencer, 449 F.3d at 725 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting Currie, 50 F.3d at 380). Here, Plaintiff submits that the Chief Magistrate Judge generally erred in recommending that this Court dismiss any of Plaintiff's claims. (ECF No. 8, 1-2.) Thus, Plaintiff's failure to specify the findings she believes to be in error results in an overly-general objection that does not satisfy the objection requirement. Spencer, 449 F.3d at 725.

         On October 26, 2017, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, entered as a Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint. (ECF No. 9.) This Court liberally construes the filing as both Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint and her Amended Complaint.

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a), a district court may allow a plaintiff to amend her complaint even when the complaint is subject to dismissal on initial screening under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). Logue v. United States Marshals, No. 1:13-cv-348, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108242, at *1-2 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 1, 2013); see also LaFountain v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013). Rule 15(a) states that a party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within 21 days after serving it and in all other cases, the court should freely give leave when justice so requires. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a); see also LaFountain, 716 F.3d at 951. For example, a motion to amend a complaint should be denied if the amendment would be futile, would result in undue delay or prejudice to the opposing party, is brought in bad faith or for dilatory purposes, etcetera. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Here, the granting of Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint would not be futile because the substance of her Amended ...


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