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Bradley v. Moore

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

December 13, 2017

JAMES DAVID BRADLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
CLAY MOORE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THOMAS A. VARLAN, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The Court is in receipt of a pro se prisoner's complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [Doc. 1] and two motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Docs. 2, 4]. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Docs. 2, 4] 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.

         I. Filing Fee

         It appears from the motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Docs. 2, 4] that Plaintiff lacks sufficient financial resources to pay the filing fee. Accordingly, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, Plaintiff's motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Docs. 2, 4] will be GRANTED.

         Because Plaintiff is incarcerated in the Bradley County Justice Center, 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, 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. § 1915(b)(2).

         The Clerk will be DIRECTED to send a copy of this Memorandum and Order to the Sheriff of Bradley County to ensure that the custodian of Plaintiff's inmate trust account complies with the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act with regard to payment of the filing fee. The Clerk will also be DIRECTED to forward a copy of this Memorandum and Order to the Court's financial deputy.

         II. Screening Standard

         Under 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 or 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); Benson v. O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir. 1999). 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 to 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).

         In 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. 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”).

         III. Allegations of the Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that on September 11, 2014, Defendant Moore charged Plaintiff for possession of schedule II cocaine for resale in violation of Tennessee law [Doc. 1 p. 4]. Plaintiff further asserts that, in support of this charge, Defendant Moore stated that he weighed a bag of white powder believed to be cocaine at over ten grams and that Defendant Moore field-tested the powder as positive for cocaine [Id.]. When the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation weighed the same evidence, however, it weighed only .17 grams, and the forensic lab testing showed that the substance was not cocaine [Id. at 4-5]. Plaintiff therefore claims that Defendant Moore “clearly violated [his] rights by falsifying evidence to charge [him] with a specific crime” [Id. at 5]. Plaintiff also states that, because of Defendant Moore's actions, Plaintiff had a large amount of personal property seized, a large amount of attorney fees, and mental anguish [Id.].

         IV. Legal Analysis

         District courts apply state statutes of limitation to § 1983 claims. Harris v. United States, 422 F.3d 322, 331 (6th Cir. 2005). In Tennessee, a one-year statute of limitation is applicable to § 1983 actions. Zundel v. Holder, 68 ...


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