United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
L. COLLIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a pro se prisoner's complaint for violation of civil
rights filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the
reasons set forth below, this action will be
DISMISSED as time-barred, barred due to res
judicata, and/or for failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted under § 1983. Accordingly,
Plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel (Doc. 5) will be
DENIED AS MOOT.
the Prison 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 1915(A). 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. 554 (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. Black
v. Barberton Citizens Hosp., 134 F.3d 1265, 1267 (6th
Cir. 1998; see also Braley v. City of Pontiac, 906
F.2d 220, 223 (6th Cir. 1990) (stating that “Section
1983 does not itself create any constitutional rights; it
creates a right of action for the vindication of
constitutional guarantees found elsewhere”).
complaint, which she signed on March 21, 2019, alleges that
on March 2, 2017, Defendant Moneymaker responded to an
assault on Plaintiff by pulling Plaintiff up backwards with
her knee in the middle of Plaintiff's spinal cord and
that subsequent x-rays showed that she had a lumbar 1 burst
fracture (Doc. 2 at 3).
district courts apply state statutes of limitations §
1983 claims. Harris v. United States, 422 F.3d 322,
331 (6th Cir. 2005). Tennessee applies a one-year statute of
limitations to § 1983 actions. Zundel v.
Holder, 687 F.3d 271, 281 (6th Cir. 2012); Tenn. Code
Ann. § 28-3-104(a)(3). Accordingly, Plaintiff's
March 21, 2019, complaint setting forth claims arising out of
out of an incident on March 2, 2017, is clearly time-barred.
Plaintiff previously filed a complaint setting forth a
substantively identical claim against Defendant Moneymaker in
this District which the Court dismissed for failure to state
a claim. See Phifer v. Sykes et. al, 3:18-CV-198
(E.D. Tenn. Sept. 9, 2018). The doctrine of res judicata
prevents “the parties and their privies from
relitigating in a subsequent proceeding a controversy or
issue already decided by a prior valid judgment and from
litigating piecemeal the same controversy.”
Westwood Chem. Co., Inc. v. Kulick, 656 F.2d 1224,
1229 (6th Cir. 1981). The doctrine consists of two related
concepts: claim preclusion and issue preclusion.
Taylor, 22 Fed.Appx. at 538-39; Baker v. Gen.
Motors Corp., 522 U.S. 222, 233 n.5 (1998).
Under claim preclusion, a final judgment on the merits bars
any and all claims by the parties or their privies based on
the same cause of action, as to every matter actually
litigated as well as every theory of recovery that could have
been presented. Under issue preclusion, once an issue is
actually and necessarily determined by a court of competent
jurisdiction, that determination is conclusive in subsequent
suits based on a different cause of action involving any
party to the prior litigation.
Taylor, 22 Fed.Appx. at 538-39 (internal citation
omitted); New Hampshire v. Maine, 532 U.S. 742,
748-49 (2001); see also, e.g., Doe ex rel. Doe
v. Jackson Local Schools School Dist., 422 Fed.Appx.
497, 500 (6th Cir. 2011) (noting that claim preclusion
requires “(1) a final decision on the merits by a court
of competent jurisdiction; (2) a subsequent action between
the same parties or their privies; (3) an issue in the
subsequent action which was litigated or which should have
been litigated in the prior action; and (4) an identity of
the causes of actions”); Vincent v. Warren Cty.,
Ky, 629 Fed.Appx. 735, 740 (6th Cir. 2015) (noting that,
for issue preclusion to apply, “the issue raised in the
second case must have been raised, actually litigated and
decided, and necessary to the court's judgment in the
first case”). “A completely duplicative complaint
lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact and, [is]
therefore . . . properly dismissed on the basis of res
judicata.” Taylor, 22 Fed.Appx. at 539.
substantive claim Plaintiff seeks to bring in this action
against Defendant Moneymaker is identical to the claim that
Plaintiff brought in her previous action. See Phifer v.
Sykes et. al, 3:18-CV-198 (E.D. Tenn. Sept. 9, 2018).
Accordingly, the doctrine of res judicata bars this action.
even if Plaintiff's complaint were not time-barred and/or
barred by res judicata, it would be subject to dismissal for
failure to state a claim for the same reasons Plaintiff's
previous complaint was dismissed. Id.
Plaintiff's complaint will be DISMISSED
for failure to state a claim upon which relief ...