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Bohanon v. Newberry

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

February 7, 2018




         On July 13, 2016, Plaintiff Elmer Bohanon, who is currently an inmate at the Shelby County Correction Center in Memphis, Tennessee, filed pro se a Complaint pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 241 and 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3), accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) On July 15, 2016, the Court granted Bohanon 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. 4.) On August 15, 2016, Bohanon filed an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 6.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Demarcus Newberry and Family Dollar, LLC (“Family Dollar”).


         Bohanon alleges that on October 24, 2015, Newberry accused Bohanon of shoplifting merchandise from a Family Dollar store. (Compl. at 2-3, ECF No. 1.) Specifically, Newberry believed that Bohanon had taken certain Memphis Grizzlies shirts. (Id.) According to the police report attached as exhibit 1 to the Amended Complaint, Newberry was the manager of the Family Dollar store. (ECF No. 6-1 at 3). Newberry detained Bohanon and reported him to the police for shoplifting. (Compl. at 2.) Officers of the Memphis Police Department eventually apprehended Bohanon and placed him under arrest. (Id. at 3.) According to Newberry, Bohanon had attempted to shoplift $90 worth of Memphis Grizzlies shirts from the Family Dollar store. (Id. at 4, see also Exhibit A, ECF No. 1-1.) Bohanon alleges that Newberry altered the UPC codes on the items to inflate their value and with the knowledge that Family Dollar does not sell Memphis Grizzlies apparel. (Id.) In a subsequent statement given on June 10, 2016, Newberry admitted that Family Dollar does not sell Memphis Grizzlies shirts. (Id. at 5, see also Exhibit C, ECF No. 1-4.) Bohanon complains that his arrest and incarceration have aggravated pre-existing health conditions and caused him reputational harm. (Id. at 6.) Bohanon now seeks an award of compensatory damages, punitive damages, and reasonable attorney's fees. (Id. at 7.)

         On August 15, 2016, Bohanon filed an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 6). Although the amended pleading does not contain any new allegations, Bohanon has included with the Amended Complaint new exhibits and added a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 6.)


         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 the pleadings standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) announced in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). The Court accepts the Complaint's “well-pleaded” factual allegations as true and then determines whether the allegations “plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). Conclusory allegations “are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ” and legal conclusions “must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Ultimately, a complaint need only contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 8(a)(2) nevertheless requires factual allegations to make a “showing, rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3.

         “Pro se complaints are to be held ‘to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ' and should therefore be liberally construed.” Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)). Even so, pro se litigants and prisoners are not exempt from the pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989). District courts are therefore not required “to ferret out the strongest cause of action on behalf of pro se litigants.” Young Bok Song v. Gipson, 423 F. App'x 506, 510 (6th Cir. 2011). In the final analysis, a court “cannot create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading.” Brown v. Matauszak, 415 F. App'x 608, 612-13 (6th Cir. 2011).


         The Court holds that Bohanon's Complaint and Amended Complaint fail to state any plausible claim for relief. The Court ...

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