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Long v. Jackson

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

June 6, 2019

CHAD JACKSON, ET AL., Defendants.



         On August 8, 2018, Plaintiff Jeffrey Alan Long, currently in custody at the Haywood County Justice Complex (Jail) in Brownsville, 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.) After Long submitted the required financial information, (ECF No. 5), the Court issued an order on August 30, 2018, 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). Long sues Chad Jackson and Blake Perry of the West Tennessee Drug Task Force.[1]

         Long alleges that on June 14, 2018, he was “approached by SUVs” when he was leaving his home his home in Halls, Tennessee. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) Long apparently was in a vehicle because he alleges the SUVs conducted a traffic stop, after which he was “surrounded by several vehicles and men with guns yelling aggressive[ly].” (Id.) Long alleges he stuck his hands out his window “to show I was submitting to there [sic] Authority.” (Id.) Unspecified agents allegedly approached Long and knocked him unconscious with “a weapon to the face.” (Id.) Long awoke to repeated blows to his face and head by several agents who allegedly continued to beat him “for several minutes.” (Id.) When the beating stopped, the agents bandaged Long's head before handing him over to Haywood County. (Id.) Upon his arrived in Haywood County, Long alleges he was “immedeatly [sic] rushed” to Jackson Madison County General Hospital for treatment of injuries to his skull, shoulder, ribs, and eyes. (Id.)

         Long requests an investigation into “this brutal corrupt event” and insists “there should be body cam or dash cam” footage available to corroborate his allegations. (Id. at PageID 3.)

         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 Fed.R.Civ.P. 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))).

         Long 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).

         Long names two Defendants in his complaint but does not allege any unlawful action taken by either of them. He suggests Defendants Jackson and Perry were involved but alleges only generally that “men with guns” aggressively approached him and that “the agents” beat him for several minutes. Nor is it clear whether all of the men involved were agents hired by or assigned to the West Tennessee Drug Task Force or whether they only represent a different agency or county.[2] Long also provides only scant details of the circumstances surrounding the traffic stop. He does not describe the reason for the stop, whether he faced any charges, or whether he was attempting to flee the agents when he was stopped. These details are necessary to guide the Court's screening of his complaint. As it stands, Long's general allegations are insufficient to state a claim against any individual Defendant. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570 (holding that a complaint that fails ...

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