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Pittman v. Henry County

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

January 10, 2018

HENRY COUNTY, Defendant,



         On October 27, 2015, Plaintiff Michael Pittman (Pittman), who is incarcerated at the Henry County Corrections Facility (Jail) in Paris, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) After Pittman filed the required documentation, the Court granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 10.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as the State of Tennessee, Henry County, the City of Paris, and Captain First Name Unknown Page.[1]

         I. The Complaint

         The complaint alleges that on February 3, 2015, Pittman and his son, Michael Fitch, drove to the home of Pittman's fiancée. Pittman's fiancé was not home, and Fitch got out of the car and went to the door of the house while Pittman stayed in the car and telephoned his fiancée. Pittman observed his 14-year-old stepson open the door of the house and then watched while his son and stepson appeared to get into a minor altercation. (ECF No. 1 at 1.) As Pittman got out of the car he saw his stepson slam the door on Fitch; his stepson then called 911. When officers arrived it was determined the argument began because Fitch was banging on the door while Pittman's stepson was sleeping and woke him up. (Id. at 1-2.) The officers recommended the two be separated and left. (Id. at 2.)

         On March 3, 2015, Pittman, who was on parole at the time, was served with a warrant for his arrest for verbal assault. (Id. at 2.) Pittman alleges this resulted in false arrest and a parole violation charge. (Id. at 3.) At his parole violation hearing on March 17, 2015, Pittman's parole officer admitted that after speaking with the district attorney they had agreed that the wrong person was arrested. (Id.) The charges were dropped on April 30, 2015. (Id.) However, Pittman alleges that he continued to be incarcerated at the Jail. (Id.) Although the complaint is not entirely clear, Pittman appears to allege that this was because of a “parole hold” which is put in place any time a parolee is arrested. (Id.) Pittman alleges that he contacted the Parole Board in Nashville, Tennessee, but the parole hold was not lifted and he was still incarcerated as of September 27, 2015. (Id. at 4.)[2]

         Pittman further alleges that in April and May 2015, Defendant Page prevented him from going to the law library. As a result, he alleges he “couldn't look [his] case up to be filed.” (Id.) He states that he was told the legal materials at the Jail were outdated and “they never had the time to take me.” (Id.) Pittman seeks various types of injunctive relief and compensatory damages. (Id. at 5.)

         II. Analysis

         A. Screening and Standard

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint-

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the court applies standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). “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.”).

         “A complaint can be frivolous either factually or legally. Any complaint that is legally frivolous would ipso facto fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Hill, 630 F.3d at 470 (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 328-29 (1989)).

Whether a complaint is factually frivolous under §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) is a separate issue from whether it fails to state a claim for relief. Statutes allowing a complaint to be dismissed as frivolous give “judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327, 109 S.Ct. 1827 (interpreting 28 U.S.C. § 1915). Unlike a dismissal for failure to state a claim, where a judge must accept all factual allegations as true, Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50, a judge does not ...

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