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Gwin v. Collins-Williams

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

June 4, 2019

ROBERT IRWIN GWIN, Plaintiff,
v.
TAMIEKA COLLINS-WILLIAMS, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER SEVERING CLAIMS, DISMISSING REMAINING CLAIMS, CERTIFYING AN APPEAL WOULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH, NOTIFYING PLAINTIFF OF APPELLATE FILING FEE AND NOTIFYING PLAINTIFF OF RESTRICTIONS UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 1915(G)

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On January 20, 2017, Plaintiff Robert Irwin Gwin, an inmate at the Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) in Tiptonville, Tennessee, filed pro se a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) The Court granted Gwin 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. 11.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Tamieka Collins-Williams, Parole Officer with the State of Tennessee; former Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham; Nicky Jordan, Internal Affairs Officer at the Turner Center Industrial Complex (TCIX); Memphis Police Department (MPD) Detectives D. Dotson, L. Mobley, O. Edwards, B. Evans and J. Knowlton; Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) Assistant Commissioner Alisha Shoates-James; the Tennessee Board of Parole; Ned Ray McWherter, the deceased former Governor of Tennessee; Sandra E. Bowman, an Administrative Secretary at TCIX; and TCIX Warden Kevin Genovese.[1] Gwin appears to sue Collins-Williams, Shoates-James, Bowman, Jordan, Genovese, and the other MPD and TCIX employees in their individual capacities.[2] (ECF 13 at PageID 97, 102; ECF 18 at PageID 133, 142 & 146.) He sues Defendants McWherter and the Tennessee Board of Parole in their official capacities only. (ECF No. 13 at PageID 97.)[3]

         Gwin's original complaint is very difficult to follow. He alleges that on October 6, 2016, he was present at TCIX to assist an inmate with a clemency petition. (ECF No. 1 at PageID at 2-3.) According to his complaint, Gwin is a paralegal and notary public. (Id. at PageID 2.) While meeting with the inmate, Gwin claims Defendant Jordan approached him and placed him under arrest on charges of criminal trespass and impersonation of a licensed professional. (Id. at PageID 4.) Gwin believes that Officer Jordan arrested him for being a convicted felon and on suspicion of smuggling contraband into the jail and appearing at the facility without the knowledge of his parole officer. (Id. at PageID 5.) The next day, Gwin's brother posted Gwin's bail. (Id.)

         On October 10, 2016, Gwin received a phone call from his parole officer, Defendant Collins-Williams, regarding the October 6 incident at the jail. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) Gwin claims he forwarded Collins-Williams a copy of an email he had received from Defendant Bowman approving his visit to the jail.[4] (Id.) Nevertheless, Gwin states that a John Doe Assistant Commissioner signed a warrant for his arrest. (Id. at PageID 14.) (Gwin later asserts that this was Defendant Shoates-James. (ECF No. 13 at PageID 100.)) The same day, Defendant Dotson and eight armored MPD officers allegedly arrived at Gwin's apartment to arrest him for violating his parole based on his October 6 arrest. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 14.) The officers ordered Gwin out of his apartment but refused to produce the warrant for his arrest or the search of his apartment and car that followed. (Id.) Gwin alleges Defendants Dotson and Evans placed his apartment key under the door to his apartment, returned later, and “ransacked Plaintiff's apartment looking for a ‘stash of cash.'” (Id. at PageID 15-16.) Gwin alleges the detectives took clothing, jewelry, and other property from his apartment. (Id. at PageID 16.) Gwin attempted to file a police report while he was incarcerated at the Shelby County Jail but was only permitted to file a grievance. (Id. at PageID 22.) Gwin's grievance was rejected as non-grievable because his claim was unrelated to the Jail itself. (Id.)

         Gwin states that he has never faced the charges brought by Defendant Jordan for the October 6 arrest and that the charges have been dropped. (Id. at PageID 17-18.) He claims his initial detention by Jordan was unlawful and in violation of TDOC's policy on legal visits. (Id. at PageID 19-20.) He further claims that Defendant Oldham has continued to detain him since the October 10, 2016, arrest without a warrant, probable cause for the detention, or pending criminal charges. (Id. at PageID 21.) Gwin alleges that the arrest cost him his newly obtained job and apartment and that he suffers from anxiety, grief, and emotional pain and suffering from the initial October 6 arrest. (Id. at PageID 7.)

         Gwin further asserts claims of wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, denial of due process and access to parolee grievance procedures, retaliation, and discrimination against Defendants Collins-Williams, Jordan, Oldham, Dotson, Mobley, Edwards, Evans, and Knowlton. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 24-25.) Gwin also asserts a due process claim related to his ongoing confinement against Defendant Shoates-James. (ECF No. 13 at PageID 106.) Gwin also appears to assert claims under the Open Meetings Act and the Tennessee Uniform Administrative Procedure Act. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 30-31.) Gwin seeks punitive damages and compensatory damages for the personal items that he alleges were stolen from his home. (Id. at PageID 32.)

         Gwin also claims that he has twice requested that Defendant Collins-Williams initiate a parolee grievance against the Board of Parole employees who he alleges assisted the MPD in burglarizing his home on October 10, 2016, but she has not responded. (Id. at PageID 23.) He states this is a violation of his due-process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and his right to grieve the State under the First Amendment. (Id.)

         In his first amended complaint, Gwin clarifies his retaliation claim against Defendant Jordan. (ECF No. 6.) He alleges Jordan retaliated against him for providing notary services and legal assistance to prison inmates, which he states is “protected conduct.” (Id. at PageID 58-59.)

         In his second amended complaint, Gwin alleges that Governor McWherter unconstitutionally revoked the commutation of his 1973 sentence for first-degree murder, which McWherter's predecessor had commuted in 1979. (ECF No. 13 at PageID at 99-100.) He asserts without support that this claim accrued when he was arrested on October 10, 2016. (Id. at PageID 100.) Gwin also alleges that the Tennessee Board of Parole falsified government records pertaining to his commutation in 1979 and vaguely states the Board violated his rights. (Id. at PageID 103-04, 107.) Gwin also asserts state-law claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress against Defendants Bowman and Jordan. (Id. at PageID 100-102.)

         In his third amended complaint, Gwin alleges that Warden Genovese failed to follow proper procedures for allowing Gwin to visit an inmate at the TCIX. (ECF No. 18 at PageID 145.) Gwin further alleges that Genovese conspired with Defendants Jordan and Bowman, along with Gwin's parole officer Defendant Collins-Williams, to interfere with Gwin's right to vote. (Id. at PageID 134, 145, 151.) Gwin also adds a state-law claim against Defendant Jordan for libel and slander and alleges that Jordan deprived Gwin of personal property during his October 6 arrest. (Id. at PageID 137, 143.)

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 standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007), are applied. 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. Although 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 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)). 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); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 Fed.Appx. 608, 612, 613 (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))).

Gwin filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . .

         To state a claim under § 1983, 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 defendant acting under color of state law. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 150 (1970).

         Gwin's primary claims relate to his arrest on October 6, 2016, his resulting parole violation, and his arrest on that charge on October 10, 2016. In Gwin's second amended complaint, however, he asserts additional claims against new Defendants. The proper joinder of parties in a single lawsuit is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20.[5] Rule 20(a)(2) governs the joinder of defendants and provides that multiple defendants may be joined in one action if:

(A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and
(B) any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.
The Seventh Circuit has cogently explained how Rule 20(a)(2) applies to prisoner plaintiffs:
[M]ultiple claims against a single party are fine, but Claim A against Defendant 1 should not be joined with unrelated Claim B against Defendant 2. Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits, not only to prevent the sort of morass that this [multi]-claim, [multi]-defendant suit produced but also to ensure that prisoners pay the required filing fees-for the Prison Litigation Reform Act limits to 3 the number of frivolous ...

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