United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
ALEXANDER P. MHLANGA, Plaintiff,
JENNIFER HICKS, Defendant.
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Alexander P. Mhlanga is a state prisoner incarcerated at the
Davidson County Sheriff's Office in Nashville, Tennessee.
Before the court is Plaintiff's application to proceed
in forma pauperis (Doc. No. 3) and his Motion for
Appointment of Counsel (Doc. No. 5). In addition, Plaintiff
has filed a complaint for civil rights violations under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant Tennessee Highway Patrol
Trooper Jennifer Hicks, which is before the court for an
initial review pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and
1915A, and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e.
APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a), a prisoner bringing a civil action may
be permitted to file suit without prepaying the filing fee of
$350 required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). Because it appears
from Plaintiff's submissions that he lacks sufficient
financial resources from which to pay the full filing fee in
advance, the application (Doc. No. 3) will be granted.
under § 1915(b), Plaintiff remains responsible for
paying the full filing fee. The obligation to pay the fee
accrues at the time the case is filed, but the PLRA provides
prisoner-plaintiffs' the opportunity to make a
“down payment” of a partial filing fee and to pay
the remainder in installments. Accordingly, Plaintiff will be
assessed the full $350 filing fee, to be paid as directed in
the order accompanying this memorandum opinion.
the PLRA, the court must conduct an initial review of any
civil complaint brought by a prisoner if it is filed in
forma pauperis, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), seeks
relief from government entities or officials, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A, or challenges the prisoner's conditions of
confinement, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). 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. 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c).
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 those statutes
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, 561 F.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 on January 23, 2017, Defendant Hicks initiated a
traffic stop and stopped Plaintiff. (Doc. No. 2 at Page ID#
28.) During the stop, Defendant Hicks advised Plaintiff that
he was a habitual offender in violation of T.C.A. §
55-10-616 and that she was placing him under arrest and
seizing his vehicle. (Id.) Plaintiff advised
Defendant Hicks that on December 9, 2016, the Davidson County
Court had removed his habitual offender status and restored
his driving privileges. (Id. at Page ID# 29.)
Defendant Hicks ignored Plaintiff and arrested him.
(Id.) Defendant Hicks had Plaintiff sign two
citations and a notice of property seizure. (Id.)
January 27, 2017, Defendant Hicks issued another traffic
citation to Plaintiff. In the citation, Defendant Hicks noted
that she stopped Plaintiff while he was driving the vehicle
which she had seized just days before. (Id.)
Plaintiff alleges that he was not aware of this second
citation until February 4, 2017, when he was leaving work and
was arrested on a warrant from Robertson County based on the
citation that Defendant Hicks had issued on January 27, 2017.
(Id. at Page ID# 31.) Plaintiff was taken into
custody and booked into the Davidson County Jail.
(Id.) Plaintiff alleges that when he was being
booked, a probation violation charge was added based on
Defendants Hicks' two citations. (Id.)
alleges that he spent 34 days in the Davidson County Jail,
afterwhich his probation violations were retired and he was
transferred to Robertson County. (Id.) Plaintiff
arrived at the Robertson County Jail on March 9, 2017, posted
bond and was released. (Id.) On December 23, 2017,
Plaintiff appeared in the Robertson County Court and advised
the court and his appointed counsel about what had transpired
with Defendant Hicks. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that
both cases-the case stemming from the January 23, 2017
citation and the case stemming from the January 27, 2017
citation were dismissed. (Id. at Page ID# 32.)
alleges that Defendant Hicks violated his rights under the
Fourth Amendment. As relief he seeks monetary damages.