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Frazier v. Weatherford

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

June 20, 2019

RICKIE DONNELL FRAZIER, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
SHERIFF WEATHERFORD, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ELI RICHARDSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Rickie Donnell Frazier, Jr., an inmate at the Macon County Jail in Lafayette, Tennessee, filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Sheriff Weatherford and Sergeant B. Maynard. (Doc. No. 1.) He also filed an application to proceed in this Court without prepaying fees and costs. (Doc. No. 4.)

         I. Application to Proceed as a Pauper

         The Court may authorize a prisoner to file a civil suit without prepaying the filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Because it appears from Plaintiff's in forma pauperis application that he is unable to pay the full filing fee in advance, his application (Doc. No. 4) will be granted. The $350.00 filing fee will be assessed as directed in the accompanying Order. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         II. Initial Review

         Under the screening requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), the Court must conduct an initial review and dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A, 1915(e)(2)(B); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1). The Court must also construe a pro se complaint liberally, United States v. Smotherman, 838 F.3d 736, 739 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)), and accept the factual allegations as true unless they are entirely without credibility. See Thomas v. Eby, 481 F.3d 434, 437 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992)).

         A. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff alleges that, around 6:50 a.m. on January 14, 2019, Sumner County Sheriff's Office Sergeant B. Maynard was called to a residence on Corum Hill Road in Castalian Springs, Tennessee. (Doc. No. 1 at 4-5.) Maynard then seized Plaintiff's cell phone without a search warrant. (Id. at 5.) As a result, Plaintiff alleges, he lost contact with his probation officer and is now facing charges for violating his probation. (Id.) Indeed, Plaintiff alleges that his incarceration is due to “missed calls from [his] probation officer.” (Id.) Plaintiff also alleges that, without his phone, he missed employment opportunities and is now fighting for custody of his son after losing “time [and] communication” with him. (Id.) Plaintiff requests monetary damages. (Id.)

         B. Standard of Review

         To determine whether a prisoner's complaint “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted” under the PLRA, the Court applies the same standard as under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). The Court therefore accepts “all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, [and] ‘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 Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 681 (2009)). An assumption of truth does not, however, extend to allegations that consist of legal conclusions or “‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)). A pro se pleading must be liberally construed and “held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         C. Discussion

         “To prevail on a cause of action under § 1983, a plaintiff must prove ‘(1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States (2) caused by a person acting under the color of state law.'” Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Sigley v. City of Parma Heights, 437 F.3d 527, 533 (6th Cir. 2006)).

         1. Dismissal of Official-Capacity Claims

         Plaintiff brings this action against Sheriff Weatherford in his official capacity. (Doc. No. 1 at 2.) He also brings this action against Sergeant Maynard in both his individual and official capacity. (Id.) Weatherford and Maynard are both employees of Sumner County, and “individuals sued in their official capacities stand in the shoes of the entity they represent.” Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 810 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 ...


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