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Cochran v. State

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

May 4, 2018

STATE OF TENNESSEE et al., Defendants.



         The plaintiff Michael Cochran, proceeding pro se, filed a civil complaint against defendants State of Tennessee and Davidson County Sheriff's Department. (ECF No. 1.) Before the court are the plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2), his Motion to Amend the Complaint (ECF No. 7), his Motion for Hearing (ECF No. 6) and his Motion for Appointment of Counsel (ECF No. 9). In addition, his complaint 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.


         Under 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 required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). Because it appears from the plaintiff's submissions that the plaintiff lacks sufficient financial resources from which to pay the full filing fee in advance, the application (ECF No. 2) will be granted.

         However, under § 1915(b), the plaintiff nonetheless 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, the plaintiff will be assessed the full $350 filing fee, to be paid as directed in the accompanying order.


         The plaintiff has filed a Motion to Amend the Complaint to add the names of the individual Sheriff's Office employees he believes are responsible for the wrongs about which he complains: Jail Administrator Skelton, Officer W. Paul, Lieutenants Conrad and Dial. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15, a party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within 21 days after service or within 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12. Because the complaint has not been served, the plaintiff may amend his complaint as a matter of course. As such, the Motion to Amend (ECF No. 7) is GRANTED. The plaintiff has filed his amended complaint (ECF No. 8) adding the individual defendants and the amended complaint will be considered the extant complaint for all purposes, including the court's initial review.


         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court is required to conduct an initial review of any complaint filed in forma pauperis and to dismiss the complaint if it is facially frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. Begola v. Brown, 172 F.3d 47 (Table), 1998 WL 894722, at *1 (6th Cir. Dec. 14, 1998) (citing McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007)). The court must construe a pro se plaintiff's complaint liberally, Boag v. McDaniel, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982), and accept the plaintiff's allegations as true unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).

         A. Factual Allegations

         In his amended complaint, the plaintiff alleges that the defendants knowingly held him at the “MCC” for 48 hours after he was scheduled to be released. (ECF No. 8 at Page ID# 33.) The plaintiff alleges that a probation warrant was issued on November 22, 2017 which caused him to be re-arrested and re-incarcerated after which, the plaintiff alleges, he was beaten and denied medical care. (Id.) The plaintiff alleges that the defendants knowingly tried to “get [him] violated at and around Thanksgiving . . . [to] keep [him] from seeing and being with family. (Id. at Page ID# 34.) As relief, the plaintiff seeks damages.

         Because the allegations in plaintiff's amended complaint are somewhat confusing, the court has also reviewed his original complaint. In the original complaint, the plaintiff alleges that, on November 20, 2017, he went to court and returned at approximately 2:30.[1] (ECF No. 1 at Page ID# 5.) The plaintiff was scheduled to be released later that day. (Id.) At about 5:30 he heard over a radio that inmates were to be released. (Id.) The plaintiff alleges that he waited, but was not released. (Id.) After talking with his attorney, a retired Metro police officer and a bondsman, plaintiff was finally released on November 22, 2017 at 9:00.[2]

         B. Standard of Review

         If an action is filed in forma pauperis, “the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action . . . fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the court applies the standards under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as construed by Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). See Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that “the dismissal standard articulated in Iqbal and Twombly governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under [§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)] because the relevant statutory language tracks the language in Rule 12(b)(6)”). “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 ...

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