United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
ANTHONY G. AMEY, JR., Plaintiff,
HAMILTON COUNTY, MARK SAINTLOUIS, DUKO, and UNKNOWN POLICE AGENTS, Defendants.
A. VARLAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff, Anthony G. Amey, Jr., brought this action on July
5, 2018, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that, in the
course of his arrest, he was severely bitten by a police dog
and that the use of the police dog constituted an
unconstitutional use of excessive force. The matter is now
before the Court for screening of the complaint pursuant to
the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). For
the reasons set forth below, none of the claims set forth
shall proceed to service and this action will be dismissed.
SCREENING THE COMPLAINT
the PLRA, district courts must screen prisoner complaints and
shall, at any time, dismiss sua sponte any claims
that are frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim for
relief, or are against a defendant who is immune. See,
e.g., 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915(A);
Benson v. O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir.
1999). The dismissal standard articulated by the United
States Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544 (2007), “governs dismissals for failure
state a claim under [28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and
1915A] because the relevant statutory language tracks the
language in Rule 12(b)(6).” Hill v. Lappin,
630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). Thus, to survive an
initial review under the PLRA, a complaint “must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Courts liberally construe
pro se pleadings filed in civil rights cases and
hold them to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must establish that he was deprived of a federal
right by a person acting under color of state law. Braley
v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d 220, 223 (6th Cir. 1990)
(stating that “Section 1983 . . . creates a right of
action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found
6, 2017, Plaintiff drove to the Staybridge Suites in
Chattanooga, Tennessee [Doc. 1 p. 5]. Upon arriving at the
Staybridge Suites, Plaintiff exited the vehicle and walked
across the parking lot to talk with four of his friends
[Id.]. Shortly after the conversation began,
Plaintiff heard people screaming “ATF GET ON THE
GROUND” [Id.]. At first Plaintiff thought the
screams were his friends joking with him [Id.].
After he realized that officers were approaching him and his
friends, Plaintiff claims that he raised his hands in the air
to display cooperation [Id.]. However, Plaintiff
asserts that he was “violently thrown to the
ground” by an unknown police officer [Id.].
Plaintiff complains that “[w]hile being held there on
the ground without any resistance, the officers allowed the
police dog . . . to begin attacking and ripping the flesh off
his left leg” [Id.]. After the attack,
Plaintiff was taken to the Erlanger East Emergency Room to be
treated for the injuries obtained from the police dog
has named Mark Saintlouis and “unknown
police/agents” as defendants in their individual
capacities in this matter. However, these Defendants do not
appear in the body of the complaint and the Court finds no
specific allegations against them whatsoever.
does not allege that Defendants Saintlouis and “unknown
police/agents” were responsible for, or even knew of,
the alleged wrongdoings. It is a basic pleading requirement
that a plaintiff must attribute factual allegations to
particular defendants. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555
(holding that in order to state a claim, the plaintiff must
make sufficient allegations to give a defendant fair notice
of the claim). The Sixth Circuit has found that,
“[w]here a person is named as a defendant without an
allegation of specific conduct, the complaint against him is
subject to dismissal, even under the liberal construction
afforded to pro se complaints.” See Gilmore v.
Corr. Corp. of Am., 92 Fed. App'x 188, 190 (6th Cir.
2004) (dismissing complaint where plaintiff failed to allege
how any named defendant was involved in the violation of his
extent that Plaintiff has not made specific factual
allegations against Defendant Saintlouis because he seeks to
hold him liable based on his role as “lead officer of
Chattanooga Police Department, ” a theory of
supervisory liability is unacceptable in a § 1983 case.
See Ashcroft v. Iqual, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009)
(“[O]ur precedents establish . . . that Government
officials may not be held liable for the unconstitutional
conduct of their subordinates under a theory of respondeat
superior.”); Monell v. New York City Dept. of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978) (finding that liability
under § 1983 may not be imposed simply because a
defendant “employs a tortfeasor”). The law is
settled that § 1983 liability must be based on more than
respondeat superior, or a defendant's right to control
employees. Taylor v. Mich. Dept. of Corr., 69 F.3d
76, 80-81 (6th Cir. 1995). At a minimum, “a plaintiff
must plead that each Government official defendant, through
the official's own individual actions, has violated the
Constitution” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676-77.
Without any detail of specific actions or inactions of
Defendant Saintlouis, this Court finds that Plaintiff has
failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted as
against this Defendant. Thus, Defendants Staintlouis and
“unknown police/agents” will be dismissed as
Defendants in their individual capacities.
any claim against Defendants in their official capacities
are, essentially, a suit against Hamilton County itself.
See, Leach v. Shelby Cty. Sheriff, 891 F.2d 1241,
1989 WL 153076 (6th Cir. 1989); see also Petty v. Cnty.
of Franklin, 478 F.3d 341, 349 (6th Cir. 2007)
(“To the extent that [the plaintiff's Section 1983]
suit is against [the sheriff] in his official capacity, it is
nothing more than a suit against Franklin County
itself.”). Plaintiff has named Hamilton County as a
Defendant in this matter. Thus, any claim against Mark
Saintlouis, Duko, and unknown police/agents in their official
capacities would be redundant. Accordingly, Defendants
Staintlouis, Duko, and “unknown police/agents”
will be dismissed as Defendants in their official capacities.
County is a “person” within the meaning of
section 1983 and can be sued directly if it causes a
constitutional violation through “a policy statement,
ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and
promulgated by that body's officers.”
Monell, 436 U.S. at 690. Plaintiff must show that
his alleged injury was caused by an unconstitutional policy
or custom of the municipality. See, Stemler v. City of
Florence, 126 F.3d 856, 865 (6th Cir. 1997) (citing
Pembaur v. City of Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469,
Plaintiff failed to assert that any of the allegations within
his complaint were a result of an unconstitutional custom or
policy of Hamilton County. Nor can the Court liberally
construe any facts provided in Plaintiff's complaint as
relating to a policy or custom of Hamilton County. Thus,
Plaintiff failed to state a claim ...