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Pittman v. City of Jackson

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

September 3, 2019

CITY OF JACKSON, ET AL., Defendants.



         On August 29, 2019, Plaintiff Larry Carnell Pittman, who is incarcerated at the South Central Correctional Facility in Clifton, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) The Court issued an order on August 30, 2019, granting leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessing the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 4.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as the City of Jackson, Tennessee; Julian Wiser, Chief of the Jackson Police Department (JPD); Daryl Hubbard, Jackson City Court Clerk; and JPD Sergeant Bobby Henson.

         Pittman's complaint concerns his November 28, 2005, arrest for robbing the Lone Star Steakhouse in Jackson at knifepoint earlier on the evening of November 27th. He first alleges he was arrested without a warrant by Defendant Henson and that $4, 700 in cash was taken from him without being catalogued or stored in compliance with the Tennessee Rules of Evidence. He contends the money was given to Lone Star because of Henson's “unfounded speculation” that it was proceeds from the robbery. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 4-5.) Pittman further complains about certain aspects of the investigation, alleging he was arrested without having been identified by any witness to the robbery and that no knife or mask was found on his person. Additionally, he contends no search warrant was issued for his home and that his clothing was not seized as evidence. (Id. at PageID 5.)

         Pittman alleges that an arrest warrant and/or Affidavit of Complaint was issued shortly after his arrest but that it was not signed by the affiant under oath before a judge, magistrate or clerk and was not properly entered into the court records. (Id.; see also ECF No. 1-1, Ex. A at PageID 13.) He contends his detention based on the warrant was illegal and violated his right to due process of law. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 4.) Pittman asserts that Defendants Hubbard and Wiser, as representatives of the City of Jackson, failed to properly train Defendant Henson on how to obtain a valid warrant. (Id.)

         Pittman seeks both declaratory relief and monetary damages. (Id. at PageID 6.) The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint__

         (1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or

         (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007), are applied. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). The Court accepts the complaint's “well-pleaded” factual allegations as true and then determines whether the allegations “plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). Conclusory allegations “are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ” and legal conclusions “must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although a complaint need only contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), Rule 8 nevertheless requires factual allegations to make a “‘showing,' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3.

         “Pro se complaints are to be held ‘to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,' and should therefore be liberally construed.” Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)). Pro se litigants, however, are not exempt from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 Fed.Appx. 608, 612, 613 (6th Cir. Jan. 31, 2011) (affirming dismissal of pro se complaint for failure to comply with “unique pleading requirements” and stating “a court cannot ‘create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading'” (quoting Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975))).

         Pittman filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . .

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) a deprivation of rights secured by the “Constitution and laws” of the United States (2) committed by a defendant acting under color of state law. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 150 (1970).

         Pittman's claims are untimely. The statute of limitations for a § 1983 action is the “state statute of limitations applicable to personal injury actions under the law of the state in which the § 1983 claim arises.” Eidson v. Tenn. Dep't of Children's Servs., 510 F.3d 631, 634 (6th Cir. 2007); see also Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 275-76 (1985). The limitations period for § 1983 actions arising in Tennessee is the one-year limitations provision found in Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104(a)(1)(B). Roberson v. Tennessee, 399 F.3d 792, 794 (6th Cir. 2005). Pittman was arrested on November 28, 2005. This case was filed on August 29, 2019, almost fourteen years later.

         Specifically regarding Pittman's claim concerning the allegedly defective warrant and/or Affidavit of Complaint, on April 23, 2019, he filed a motion to intervene in Cox, et al. v. City of Jackson, Tennessee, No. 1:19-cv-1026-JDB-jay (W.D. Tenn. filed Feb. 11, 2019). Cox is a § 1983 case the plaintiffs therein seek to maintain as a class action; however, no class yet has been certified. The amended complaint in Cox alleges that certain warrants issued in Jackson City Court were not properly sworn and thus were invalid and violated the plaintiffs' rights under the Fourth Amendment. See No. 19-1026, Am. Compl., ECF No. 33 at PageID 148. Pittman seeks to intervene on the ground that the ...

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