United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
JOHNATHAN M. MAJORS, Plaintiff,
COFFEE COUNTY, BRANDON THOMAS, LISA SWALLOWS, and AMANDA PETERS, Defendants.
A. Varlan United States District Judge
a pro se prisoner's complaint for violation of civil
rights filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Now before
the Court is Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed
in forma pauperis [Doc. 1]. For the reasons set
forth below, this motion [Id.] will be
GRANTED and this action will be
DISMISSED because the complaint fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted under §
appears from the motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis [Doc. 1] that Plaintiff lacks sufficient
financial resources to pay the filing fee. Accordingly,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, this motion [Id.]
will be GRANTED. As it appears that
Plaintiff has been released from the Coffee County Jail [Doc.
4] and is not in the custody of the Tennessee Department of
Correction, however, he will not be assessed with the filing
the Prison Litigation Reform Act, district courts must screen
prisoner complaints and 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); 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 Atl. 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).
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). Allegations that give rise to a mere
possibility that a plaintiff might later establish
undisclosed facts supporting recovery are not well-pled and
do not state a plausible claim, however. Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555, 570. Further, formulaic and conclusory
recitations of the elements of a claim which are not
supported by specific facts are insufficient to state a
plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 681 (2009).
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. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983; Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312,
complaint, Plaintiff states that his name is in blue on a
criminal case, while the names of Defendants Thomas,
Swallows, and Peters, are in black [Doc. 2 p. 3]. Plaintiff
further alleges that the discovery in the criminal
methamphetamine case contained no evidence as to his
involvement and mentions his name only twice [Doc. 2 p. 3-4].
Plaintiff also states that although investigators took him to
the scene of the crime, found no evidence against him, and
cleared him, he was indicted sixty days after Defendant
Thomas appeared in court [Id. at 4].
served six months before he bonded out, but then missed a
court date and was charged with failure to appear and other
charges [Id.]. Even though Plaintiff notified the
arresting officer that he was a homeless junkie who needed
help and had no place to go, however, they released him again
[Id. at 4-5]. Plaintiff violated his bond, at which
point he was again confined and learned that his criminal
case was never set for trial despite him sending requests for
trial to his attorney [Id. at 5].
was told that if he did not plead guilty to the charge(s)
against him for manufacturing methamphetamine, he would be in
jail for two more years and found guilty of the other charges
against him related to his bond violations [Id.].
Plaintiff signed his guilty plea due to his mental anguish
from incarceration even though discovery establishes that he
was not listed as a criminal defendant whose charges were
presented to a grand jury [Id.]. Also, Plaintiff is
a schizophrenic who must take medication “to be in
[the] right state of mind, ” but Plaintiff stated that
he was not on medications when he entered his guilty plea,
which Plaintiff states is how the case can be appealed
[Id.]. Also, the criminal charges against Defendant
Thomas were dropped despite significant evidence against him
[Id.]. Plaintiff states that he may have claims for
malicious prosecution and mental anguish [Id.].
it is apparent that Plaintiff's claims arise out of
underlying state criminal charges involving methamphetamine
against him to which he pled guilty. In Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), however, the Supreme
Court held that an action for damages for an alleged
unconstitutional conviction or for “harm caused by
actions whose unlawfulness would render a state conviction or
sentence invalid” cannot be maintained unless the
prisoner can show that his conviction or sentence has been
“reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive
order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to
make such determination, or called into question by a federal
court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.”
Id. at 486-87. In other words, “§ 1983
damages actions that necessarily ...