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Fletcher v. Little

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

August 1, 2019

ALEX LITTLE et al., Defendants



         Plaintiff David Fletcher, proceeding pro se, brings a civil complaint asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law against a private attorney, his client, a former officer with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, and the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. Because Plaintiff proceeds in forma pauperis, the complaint is before the court for an initial review.

         I. Standard of Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court must conduct an initial review of any complaint filed in forma pauperis and dismiss it if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. The Sixth Circuit has confirmed that the dismissal standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), “governs dismissals for failure to state a claim under [that statute] 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, in reviewing the complaint to determine whether it states a plausible claim, “a district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). The court must then consider whether those factual allegations, accepted as true, “plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). A “pro se complaint . . . must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Even under this lenient standard, pro se plaintiffs must meet basic pleading requirements. Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 714 (6th Cir. 2004).

         II. Factual Allegations

         The defendants in this case are attorney Alex Little; “con man” Hugo Salido; Detective Gary Shannon, currently an officer with the Springfield Police Department but previously with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (“MNPD”); and the MNPD.

         Plaintiff states that, on or around May 1, 2018, Detective Shannon maliciously arrested him solely because of his skin color (black) and criminal history. Although Plaintiff does not use the words “probable cause, ” he states that Shannon “knew very well it was a white guy that he said he needed to arrest.” (Doc. No. 4, at 2.) Plaintiff alleges that, following the arrest, Shannon continued to defame and threaten him. He claims that this conduct, in conjunction with the arrest, caused him “severe mental and emotional stress, ” physical danger resulting from media coverage and internet backlash, and the loss of his job. (Doc. No. 1, at 4; Doc. No. 4, at 1.) Plaintiff does not indicate that he was convicted on the charges brought against him.

         Plaintiff alleges that Alex Little has “referred to [him] as a criminal mastermind on behalf of his client, ” thus causing “a wave of public and internet humiliation.” (Doc. No. 1, at 5.)

         In the supplemental pleading, Plaintiff alleges that Hugo Salida also made false allegations against him that resulted in the issuance of felony warrants and the arrest by Detective Shannon, despite the fact that both knew that the alleged crime was committed by a white man.

         Plaintiff claims that, as a result of the defendants' actions, he has had to seek medical treatment for high blood pressure caused by stress, a mental breakdown, and PTSD. He has been “run off the road twice by anonymous white individuals.” (Doc. No. 1, at 6.) He seeks damages and equitable relief for “stress, defamation of character, slander, and racial discrimination.” (Id.)

         III. Discussion

         The court construes the complaint, first, as asserting claims for violations of Plaintiff's civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To state a colorable claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must plead two elements: “(1) deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution of laws of the United States (2) caused by a person acting under color of state law.” Hunt v. Sycamore Cmty. Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 542 F.3d 529, 534 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing McQueen v. Beecher Cmty. Sch., 433 F.3d 460, 463 (6th Cir. 2006)).

         Detective Shannon, as a police officer employed (at the time) by the MNPD, is a state actor for purposes of § 1983. See, e.g., Cochran v. Gilliam, 656 F.3d 300, 305 (6th Cir. 2011) (recognizing that sheriff's deputies are state actors). He is alleged to have arrested Plaintiff without probable cause and to have embarked on a campaign of harassment after that. These allegations implicate Plaintiff's rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Accepting as true Plaintiff's allegations, as the Court must in conducting this initial review, the Court finds that ...

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