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Allen v. Hutchison

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

June 4, 2019




         On February 23, 2017, Plaintiff Carl Allen a/k/a Artie Perkins, [1] who is incarcerated at the Shelby County Correctional Center in Memphis, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) The Court issued an order on March 10, 2017, granting leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessing the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 6.) On November 16, 2018, Allen moved to supplement his complaint. (ECF No. 10.) That motion is GRANTED. All of Allen's claims will be screened together in this order. The Clerk shall record the Defendants as Officer Arica Hutchison; the City of Memphis; Sergeant S.H., IBM #3686; Officer K. C., IBM #3296; Officer T. Gates; Officer Peggy L. Bracey;[2] and Officer Anthony Alexzander. All of the individual Defendants work for the City of Memphis Police Department (MPD). (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2; ECF No. 10 at PageID 46.)

         Allen's claims stem from a burglary that occurred on October 10, 2015, his initially unrelated arrest on November 3, 2015, and two separate indictments that followed. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) Allen states that Defendant Gates and the unknown Officer pulled him over on November 3 but did not give him a reason. (Id.) Allen did not present any identification and ran from his car, but he was apprehended by Defendant Alexzander. (Id. at PageID 3.) Defendant Bracey later arrived to assist the officers with the arrest and seizure from Allen of cash and jewelry found in his car and a bag later determined to contain marijuana. (Id.) Allen was charged with failing to possess proper identification, [3] resisting official detention, evading arrest, and possession of marijuana. (Id.) Alexzander prepared a statement of probable cause detailing the basis for these charges. (Id. at PageID 3-4.)

         Allen was taken to the Shelby County Jail and his car was searched. (Id. at PageID 3.) The search allegedly yielded Allen's Tennessee ID and an ID belonging to Reginal M. Ward. (Id.) Defendant Hutchison traced the jewelry found in Allen's car to a pawn shop, where the owner allegedly identified Allen from a line-up photograph. (Id. at PageID 4.) The MPD subsequently concluded that a thumbprint taken from the pawn card detailing Allen's transaction at the pawn shop also matched Allen. (Id.) Hutchison later learned that the burglary from October 10 had involved the theft of jewelry. (Id. at PageID 5.) Hutchison then prepared a narrative in which he stated that descriptions of the jewelry stolen during the burglary matched the jewelry found in Allen's car. (Id. at PageID 5-6.)

         On November 11, 2015, Allen was charged with, and arrested for, aggravated burglary, theft of property, forgery, and identity theft. (Id. at PageID 6.) Defendants Hutchison, S.H., and K.C. allegedly prepared a statement of probable cause detailing these charges, which was presented to the District Attorney for Shelby County on May 25, 2016. (Id. at PageID 8-9.) On July 12, 2016, a Shelby County grand jury returned an indictment against Allen for all but the forgery charge.[4] (Id. at PageID 9.) Allen alleges he entered a nolo contendere plea to that indictment on October 4, 2018. (ECF No. 8 at PageID 42.)

         Allen states that on July 27, 2017, after he had filed his original complaint, he also was indicted for the charges stemming from the traffic stop on November 3, 2015-failing to possess proper identification, evading arrest, and possession of marijuana. (ECF No. 8 at PageID 41.) Allen has notified the Court these charges were dismissed on October 4, 2018. (Id.)[5]

         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))).

         Allen 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).

         Original Complaint

         Allen's complaint contains no allegations against Defendant Bracey. The only fact relating to Bracey is that she assisted in apprehending Allen when he ran during the initial traffic stop. When a complaint fails to allege any action by a defendant, it necessarily fails to “state a ...

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