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Williams v. Dyersburg Police Department

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee

April 11, 2019




         On December 31, 2018, pro se Plaintiff James Williams filed this Complaint against the Dyersburg Police Department, Billy Williams, a Dyersburg police officer, Jane Doe, front desk personnel at the Dyersburg Police Department, and two John Does, both Dyersburg police officers accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma pauperis (D.E. 1-2). In an order issued on January 3, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis (D.E. 4). This case has been referred to the United States Magistrate Judge for management and for all pretrial matters for determination and/or report and recommendation as appropriate. (Admin. Order 2013-05).

         The Court is required to screen in forma pauperis complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the action-

(i) is frivolous or malicious;
(ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

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 standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 667-79, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-50, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009), and in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-66, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007), are applied. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Hill, 630 F.3d at 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (2009)); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 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, 129 S.Ct. at 1951) (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 681, 129 S.Ct. at 1950; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3, 127 S.Ct. at 1964-65 n.3 (“Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a ‘showing,' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirement of providing not only ‘fair notice' of the nature of the claim, but also ‘grounds' on which the claim rests.”).

         “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)). Pro se litigants, however, are not exempt from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989), reh'g denied (Jan. 19, 1990); see also Brown v. Matauszak, No. 09-2259, 2011 WL 285251, at *5 (6th Cir. Jan. 31, 2011) (affirming dismissal of pro se complaint for failure to comply with “unique pleading requirements” and stating “a court cannot ‘create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading'”) (quoting Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975)) (alteration in original); Payne v. Secretary of Treas., 73 Fed.Appx. 836, 837 (6th Cir. 2003) (affirming sua sponte dismissal of complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) and stating, “[n]either this court nor the district court is required to create Payne's claim for her”); cf. Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231, 124 S.Ct. 2441, 2446, 159 L.Ed.2d 338 (2004) (“District judges have no obligation to act as counsel or paralegal to pro se litigants.”).


         Plaintiff filed this Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that he was attacked while at a residence in Dyersburg, Tennessee on July 6, 2018. After escaping his attacker, Plaintiff made his way to the Dyersburg Police Department. Upon his arrival, he called an emergency number on the door because the police department was closed. A Dyersburg police officer arrived soon after, and Plaintiff explained the attack. However, Plaintiff contends that the officer responded that he could not do anything to the attacker because the officer did not witness the attack. Plaintiff did not recall the officer's name, so he made a request for the copy of the 911 record. Plaintiff was informed by police officer Billy Williams and an unknown female front desk personnel employee that he could not have access to the record, obstructing Plaintiff's right to file a complaint. The police officer that responded to Plaintiff on July 6, 2018 is identified by Plaintiff as John Doe with the case number 187060016. Plaintiff maintains that Billy Williams and John Doe 187060016, both Dyersburg police officers, and Jane Doe, a front desk personnel employee for the Dyersburg Police Department violated his constitutional right to equal protection. Further, Plaintiff alleges the aforementioned Defendants' misconduct is due to discrimination based on “race, color and national origin (me being a native Illinoisian [sic] The Union against the Confederacy) and violates my right to equal protection of the law which is guaranteed by the 14th amendment of art.7.” (D.E. 1 PageID 4).

         Further, Plaintiff contends that in September 2018 he reported his vehicle stolen and a Dyersburg police officer responded. The officer took Plaintiff's information and told Plaintiff that he would be contacted within three weeks by the Dyersburg Police Department regarding the vehicle theft. However, as of the date of this Complaint filing, Plaintiff was not contacted. Plaintiff refers to this officer as John Doe of September 2018. Plaintiff argues this inaction violated his 14th Amended right to equal protection of the law.


         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, [1] a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) a deprivation of rights secured by the “Constitution and laws” of the United States (2) committed by a person acting ...

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