United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
GREER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pro se prisoner's complaint for violation of 42 U.S.C.
1983 is before the Court for screening pursuant to the Prison
Litigation Reform Act [Docs. 2 & 3].
the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”),
district courts must screen prisoner complaints and shall, at
any time, sua sponte dismiss 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 1915A; Benson v.
O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014 (6th Cir. 1999). The
dismissal standard articulated by the 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, 520 (1972).
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
ALLEGATIONS OF COMPLAINT
alleges that in May 2016, his estranged wife, Cynthia Cox,
called the Marion County Sheriff's Department claiming
she was in danger at 221 Cox Road, Sequatchie, Tennessee,
which is Plaintiff's home address [Doc. 2 at 4].
Plaintiff states that neither he nor his wife were at his
residence at the time, and that Ms. Cox made the call only to
allow Marion County Deputy Justin Graham an opportunity to
make a warrantless, unlawful seizure of Plaintiff's Dodge
Durango and deliver it to Ms. Cox [Id. at 4-5]. When
Plaintiff arrived home the following day to find his vehicle
missing, he called his wife, who told him about the seizure
of the vehicle and delivery to her [Id. at 5].
Thereafter, Plaintiff made formal complaints with Marion
County Sheriff Bo Burnette and County Attorney Bill Galagher,
neither of whom took any action to correct the theft
alleges that on September 26, 2017, Marion County Deputies
Tim Prince, Chris Masterson, and John Doe No. One again
responded to a disturbance call at Plaintiff's address on
the basis of a complaint by Ms. Cox [Id]. He asserts
that neither he nor Ms. Cox were at the home when the
deputies arrived, and that the deputies conducted a
warrantless search of his home and 1998 Ford Explorer
[Id. at 5-6]. Plaintiff claims that Deputies
Masterson and John Doe No. One used tools to destroy the
ignition switch, the anti-theft unit, the kickplate, and the
driver's side air bag and wiring, while Deputy Tim
Prince, who was familiar with Ms. Cox and her false claims,
did nothing to intervene [Id.].
contends that while the search of his home and property was
ongoing, he was walking home after having survived a
hit-and-run orchestrated by Ms. Cox on a rural backroad
[Id. at 6]. He states that he arrived home to find
his door open and house in disarray, so he walked to a
neighbor's house to call his sister for help
[Id.]. Plaintiff maintains that on his way back to
his residence, a neighbor informed him that he had witnessed
several deputies on Plaintiff's property and in his home
[Id. at 7].
next morning, Plaintiff made numerous unsuccessful attempts
to telephone Sheriff Burnette [Id.]. Plaintiff spoke
with Sheriff's Burnette's assistant, who, after
speaking to the Sheriff, advised Plaintiff that the Sheriff
stated that Plaintiff needed to make a report with Chief Bill
Powell [Id.]. Plaintiff, believing Chief Powell to
be untrustworthy, first contacted County Attorney Bill
Galagher and explained what happened at his home and Sheriff
Burnette's refusal to take corrective action
[Id. at 8]. Plaintiff claims that Attorney Galagher
stated that he would discuss the matter with Sheriff Burnette
and call Plaintiff back, but that he failed to do so and
refused to answer Plaintiff's subsequent calls
[Id. at 8].
contends when he arrived home on September 27, 2017, he was
aggressively approached by Deputies Corey Beasley and John
Doe No. Two, who advised Plaintiff they were there to get Ms.
Cox's belongings from his home [Id. at 9].
Plaintiff claims he then witnessed Ms. Cox exit a vehicle
parked behind the police cruiser, at which point he advised
the deputies that while Ms. Cox had been an occasional
overnight guest at his home, she had not lived at the
residence since May 2016 and had no belongings in the home
[Id.]. Plaintiff asserts that Deputy Beasley became
angry and threatened Plaintiff with arrest if he continued to
refuse them entry into the home, but that Plaintiff's
steadfast refusal eventually caused the deputies to relent
and advise Ms. Cox to return with a recovery warrant
[Id. at 9-10].
Plaintiff met with Chief Powell and informed him what had
transpired in May 2016 and on September 26-27, 2017
[Id. at 11]. Plaintiff states that Chief Powell
advised him that a full investigation would be mounted and
resolved by the following Tuesday [Id.]. Plaintiff
maintains that when he called Chief Powell the following
Tuesday, however, Chief Powell advised him to seek redress in
court, as the Sheriff's Department would not repair his
vehicle or reimburse him [Id.].
states that he made his Ford Explorer operational again, only
to total it on October 16, 2017, when the steering locked,
and he crashed into an outer guardrail system on a mountain
[Id. at 12]. He claims that this happened because of
the vandalism to his steering column, and that his injuries
were worsened by the disabled airbag system [Id.].
maintains that he somehow made it home and accepted some
vodka to calm his nerves, and that he thereafter awakened to
paramedics and Trooper Terry Gann at his bed side
[Id. at 13]. After Plaintiff refused transport to
the hospital, Trooper Gann, without a warrant, placed
Plaintiff under arrest for a DUI offense [Id.].
Trooper Gann transported Plaintiff to an emergency room, and
shortly thereafter, Plaintiff felt an excruciating pain in
his torso that Trooper Gann did not relay to medical staff
[Id. at 14]. Plaintiff claims that medical
personnel, apparently frustrated by Plaintiff's election
to refuse to provide a blood sample, discharged him without
any pain medication ...