United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
RICKY A. CARUTHERS, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, in its official capacity, Defendant.
RICHARDSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
A. Caruthers, an inmate of the Grayson County Detention
Center in Leitchfield, Kentucky, filed this pro se action
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the United States
Department of Justice (“DOJ”), alleging that
Plaintiff has been wrongfully designated and sentenced as an
Armed Career Criminal. (Doc. No. 1).
complaint is before the Court for an initial review pursuant
to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A.
PLRA Screening Standard
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the court must dismiss any
portion of a civil complaint filed in forma pauperis that
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, is
frivolous, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief. Section 1915A similarly requires
initial review of any “complaint in a civil action in
which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity, ”
id. § 1915A(a), and summary dismissal of the
complaint on the same grounds as those articulated in §
1915(e)(2)(B). Id. § 1915A(b).
court must 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 plaintiff's 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)). Although pro se
pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v.
Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), the courts'
“duty to be ‘less stringent' with pro se
complaints does not require us to conjure up [unpleaded]
allegations.” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16,
19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted).
Section 1983 Standard
42 U.S.C. § 1983 creates a cause of action against any
person who, acting under color of state law, abridges
“rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws....” To state a claim under
§ 1983, a plaintiff must allege and show two elements:
(1) that he was deprived of a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) that the
deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of
state law. Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d
543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Sigley v. City of
Panama Heights, 437 F.3d 527, 533 (6th Cir. 2006)); 42
U.S.C. § 1983.
complaint alleges that, in the case of United States v.
Caruthers, 458 F.3d 459 (6th Cir. 2006), the Court
designated Plaintiff as an Armed Career Criminal and
sentenced him to an “unconstitutional illegal sentence,
one not authorized by law, a grossly disproportionate
sentence.” (Doc. No. 1 at 4). According to the
complaint, the erroneous Armed Career Criminal designation
violated Plaintiff's Sixth, Eight, and Fourteenth
Amendment rights (id. at 3) because it resulted in a
sentence of 180 months instead of 70-87 months (Id.
at 5). As relief, Plaintiff seeks $20, 000 per year for each
year that exceeded the sentence to which he believes he was
entitled. (Id. at 5).
complaint names only one Defendant: the DOJ. It is
well-settled that, as an agency of the United States
Government, the DOJ may not be subject to suit under Section
1983 under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. United
States v. Mitchell, 445 U.S. 535, 538 (1980);
Blakely v. United States, 276 F.3d 853, 870 (6th
Cir. 2002); Matthews v. City of Memphis, No.
2:14-cv-02094-JTF-egc, 2014 WL 3049906, at *7 (W.D. Tenn.
July 3, 2014) (“As to the United States Department of
Justice, it is well-settled that, as an agency of the United
States Government, it may not be subjected to suit under
Section 1983 under the doctrine of sovereign
complaint against the DOJ is in effect a suit against the
United States, as the relief sought would in fact operate
against the United States. Id. Absent an explicit
waiver of sovereign immunity by statute, suits against the
government or its agents must be dismissed. Loeffler v.
Frank, 486 U.S. 549, 554 (1988); United States v.
Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206, 212 (1983). Therefore,
Plaintiff's Section 1983 claims against the DOJ fail to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and the
claims must be dismissed.