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Trent v. Gillemwater

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville

February 1, 2018

WALTER LEON TRENT, Plaintiff,
v.
CHAD GILLEMWATER, HAWKINS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, DAVID BENTON, JEFF HILTON, LYNN CAMPBELL, SCOTT STEWART, DAVID BYINGTON, TONY ALLEN, STEPHEN ARMSTRONG, RONNIE LAWSON, and HAWKINS COUNTY TENNESSEE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Leon Jordan, United States District Judge

         Federal prisoner Walter Leon Trent (“Plaintiff”) brings this pro se civil rights complaint for damages under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988, alleging that he was subjected to wrongful treatment during a 2013 search of his home, illegally arrested, and then maliciously prosecuted- all in violation of rights secured to him by the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments [Doc. 1]. Plaintiff also alleges several state law claims [Id. p.7, ¶ 34]. Defendants are various law enforcement officials in Hawkins County, Tennessee, along with the Hawkins County Sheriff's Department and Hawkins County itself.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Plaintiff's pending in forma pauperis motion [Doc. 3] and will dismiss this case sua sponte.

         I. FILING FEE

         The financial data supplied in Plaintiff's affidavit attached to his motion reflects that he presently has a balance of $200.15 in his inmate trust fund account and that his average balance for the last six months is $324.42 [Doc. 31]. Accordingly, because Plaintiff lacks sufficient funds to pay the full filing fee all at once, his motion to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED [Doc. 3]. Because Plaintiff is a federal prisoner confined in Elkton, Indiana, he is ASSESSED the civil filing fee of $350.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) (providing that “if a prisoner brings a civil action . . . in forma pauperis, the prisoner shall be required to pay the full amount of a filing fee”).

         The custodian of Plaintiff's inmate trust account at that facility is DIRECTED to submit to the Clerk, U.S. District Court, 220 West Depot Street, Suite 200, Greeneville, Tennessee 37601, as an initial partial payment, twenty percent (20%) of the greater of either the average monthly deposits or the average monthly balance in the account for the six (6) months immediately preceding the filing of the complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         After full payment of the initial partial filing fee, the custodian shall submit twenty percent (20%) of Plaintiff's preceding monthly income (or income credited to the account), but only when the amount in the account exceeds ten dollars ($10), until the full $350 fee has been paid to the Clerk. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         The Clerk is DIRECTED to send a copy of this Order to the custodian of inmate accounts at the Elkton Federal Correctional Institution to ensure compliance with these fee-collection procedures. The Clerk also is DIRECTED to forward a copy of the Order to the Court's financial deputy.

         II. SCREENING STANDARDS

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), district courts must screen prisoner complaints and sua sponte must dismiss any claims that are frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim for relief, or that are alleged against a defendant who enjoys immunity. See, e.g., 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 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 Atl. 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). Allegations that give rise to a mere possibility that a plaintiff might later establish undisclosed facts supporting recovery, however, are not well-pled and do not state a plausible claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570. Further, formulaic and conclusory recitations of the elements of a claim unsupported by facts are insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681.

         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. 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 “[s]ection 1983 does not itself create any constitutional rights; it creates a right of action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found elsewhere”).

         III. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

         In his pleading, Plaintiff maintains that on April 25, 2013, Hawkins County law enforcement Defendants searched his residence, pushed him into a table, shoved him into a chair, questioned him, handcuffed him, arrested him without any grounds, and charged him with drug- and firearm-related offenses without probable cause [Doc. 1 at 3-4, ¶¶ 11-22]. The trial on those offenses was rescheduled eight times, and, ultimately, the charges were dismissed on October 1, 2014 [Id. at 4 ¶ 21 and at 14 ¶13]. Plaintiff asserts that, because of the described conduct, he experienced physical and reputational injuries, humiliation, imprisonment, emotional distress, pain, and suffering and that he incurred certain expenses, including legal fees he had to pay in ...


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