United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
Patrick Kellogg, acting pro se, brings this action
against the Chattanooga Police Department and Officer Afton
Yates alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, and
malicious prosecution arising from his arrest on August 17,
move to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), stating the statute of limitations has
expired on Kellogg’s false arrest and false
imprisonment claims. In addition, the existence of probable
cause defeats Kellogg’s malicious prosecution claim.
Finally, the City asserts it cannot be held liable based on
respondeat superior. Defendants’ arguments
have merit and for the reasons stated, defendants’
motion will be granted and this action dismissed.
filed his initial Complaint on July 12, 2018. After an
initial screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2),
the Magistrate Judge found the Complaint failed to state a
claim for which relief could be granted and ordered Kellogg
to file an amended complaint to include specific dates,
material allegations, and requests for relief. Kellogg filed
an Amended Complaint on September 7, 2018.
Amended Complaint is sparse on facts and merely recites the
elements of each cause of action. Kellogg states that he was
arrested on August 17, 2016, at Ross Landing in Hamilton
County. He had an initial appearance on August 22, 2016, and
the case was bound over by the magistrate. A probable cause
hearing was held on May 23, 2017. The case was ultimately
dismissed on October 18, 2017. Kellogg alleges he was
wrongfully arrested, wrongfully detained, and there was a
wrongful institution of legal process against him.
Standard of Review
complaints filed by pro se plaintiffs are liberally
construed; however, in a motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim, the court must still consider the sufficiency
of the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). Powell v. Denton, 2010 WL 1491550 at *2
(E.D.Tenn. Apr. 12, 2010). Under the standard articulated by
the United States Supreme Court, courts are to engage in a
two-step process when considering a motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim. Id.
the court separates the complaint’s factual allegations
from its legal conclusions. All factual allegations, and only
the factual allegations, are taken as true. Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Second, the
court asks whether these factual allegations amount to a
plausible claim for relief. Id. at 555. The
allegations do not need to be highly detailed, but they must
do more than simply recite the elements of the offense.
Id. Specifically, the complaint must plead facts
permitting a reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the alleged conduct. Id. If this is not
done, the claim will be dismissed. Id. at 570.
pro se plaintiff’s complaint is liberally
construed in determining whether it fails to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted, lenient treatment generally
accorded to pro se litigants has limits. Walker
v. Corwell, 2017 WL 663093 at *3 (E.D.Tenn. Feb. 15,
2017). The federal courts do not abrogate basic pleading
essentials in pro se actions. Id. For
instance, federal pleading standards do not permit pro
se litigants to proceed on pleadings that are not
readily comprehensible. Id. Complaints containing
“vague and conclusory allegations” unsupported by
material facts are subject to dismissal. Becker v. Ohio
State Legal Servs Ass’n, 19 Fed.Appx. 321, 322
(6th Cir. 2001).
Chattanooga Police Department
the Chattanooga Police Department is not a suable entity
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, but is a subdivision of the City
of Chattanooga, it will be dismissed from this action.
See Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049
(6th Cir. 1994) (a police department is not an
entity which can be sued under § 1983). Accordingly, the
Chattanooga Police Department is DISMISSED
as a defendant, and the City of Chattanooga will be submitted
in its place.
Yates is sued in her official capacity as a Chattanooga
Police Officer. An “official capacity” claim is
in all respects treated as a suit against the City of
Chattanooga. See Kentucky v. Graham,473 U.S. 159,
166 (1985). Accordingly, Afton Yates is