United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR., CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
David Vecchio has filed a Complaint asserting claims against
three police officers. The Complaint has now been signed.
(Doc. No. 7.) Because plaintiff proceeds in forma
pauperis, the Court must conduct an initial review of
the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). For
the reasons set forth herein, the Complaint will be dismissed
Initial-Review Screening Standards
Court must conduct an initial review of any civil complaint
filed in forma pauperis. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). Upon conducting this review, the Court must
dismiss the complaint, or any portion thereof, that fails to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted, is frivolous,
or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. Id. The Sixth Circuit has confirmed
that the dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court
in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007),
“governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under
[that statute] 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 scrutiny on initial review, “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). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
reviewing the complaint to determine whether it states a
plausible claim, “a district court must (1) view the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and
(2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.”
Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561F.3d
478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v.
Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations
omitted)). A pro se pleading must be liberally
construed and “held to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).
alleges that Officer Jeff Carol of the Murfreesboro Police
Department has, on numerous occasions beginning in 2013,
harassed Plaintiff's friends and relatives by sitting
“in his patrol car near [Plaintiff's] residence and
pull[ing] over anyone leaving [Plaintiff's] home”
(Compl. at 1.) He has also told many of Plaintiff's
friends and relatives that Plaintiff is a “junkie, a
drug dealer, and a scumbag.” (Id.)
“campaign” culminated in a military-style raid at
Plaintiff's house. Plaintiff was not at home, but four
adults and one infant boy were “put in danger by these
deranged tactics.” (Id. at 2.)
was subsequently arrested on “bogus” charges, at
which time he was questioned for “about an hour”
by Murfreesboro Police Officers Shawn Jensen and Travis
Ledford. Plaintiff was charged and held on an inflated bond
on false charges for several days. Plaintiff has now notified
the Court that he has been released on bond and is living
with his brother. (See Doc. No. 6, at 4.)
Plaintiff does not expressly identify the basis for this
Court's jurisdiction over his claims or invoke 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, that statute provides essentially the
“only realistic avenue for vindication of
constitutional guarantees, ” Champion v. Outlook
Nashville, Inc., 380 F.3d 893, 900 (6th Cir. 2004)
(quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 814
(1982)), as well as the only possible basis for federal
jurisdiction. The Court therefore construes the complaint as
brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
1983 confers a private federal right of action against any
person who, acting under color of state law, deprives an
individual of any right, privilege or immunity secured by the
Constitution or federal laws. Wurzelbacher v.
Jones-Kelley, 675 F.3d 580, 583 (6th Cir. 2012). Thus,
to state a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege two
elements: (1) a deprivation of rights secured by the
Constitution and laws of the United States, and (2) that
“the deprivation was caused by a person acting under
color of state law.” Tahfs v. Proctor, 316
F.3d 584, 590 (6th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted); 42 U.S.C.
names Officer Jeff Carol as a defendant and alleges that
Carol has, for years, wrongfully stopped and harassed other
individuals upon their leaving Plaintiff's house.
Plaintiff, however, does not have standing to assert claims
on behalf of these other individuals (whom he does not
identify). To establish standing, Plaintiff must show that
the conduct of which he complains has caused him to
personally suffer an “injury in fact” that a
favorable judgment will redress. Lujan v. Defenders of
Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 559-562 (1992). He must also
show that he is not asserting claims based on a violation of
another person's legal rights and interests, but instead
is relying on an injury to his own legal interests. Allen
v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 751 (1984); Allstate
Insurance Co. v. Wayne Cnty., 760 F.2d 689, 693 (6th
Cir. 1985). The Complaint fails to state a claim for which
relief may be granted to Plaintiff based on Officer
Carol's alleged harassment of other individuals.
also alleges that Jeff Carol has told others that Plaintiff
is a “junkie, a drug dealer, and a scumbag.”
(Compl. at 1.) Although Carol, as a police officer, is an
individual acting under color of state law, Plaintiff has not
shown that Carol, by insulting Plaintiff, has violated his
constitutional or other federal rights. Insofar as Plaintiff
may be attempting to state a defamation claim against Carol
under Tennessee state law, over which the Court could
potentially have supplemental jurisdiction, Plaintiff has not
alleged sufficient facts to support such a claim. Under
Tennessee law, to establish a prima facie case of
defamation, a plaintiff must show that: (1) a party published
a statement; (2) with knowledge that the statement was false
and defaming to the other; or (3) with reckless disregard for
the truth of the statement or with negligence in failing to
ascertain the truth of the statement. Brown v. Christian
Bros. Univ., 428 S.W.3d 38, 50 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2013).
Only false statements are actionable; truth is a defense.
Id. (citations omitted). Further, to establish
defamation, Plaintiff must show that the defamation resulted
in injury to his character and reputation. Id. Here,
Plaintiff does not allege that the statements are false or
that they damaged his ...