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Brown v. State

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

September 26, 2019

TAMARA BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          TU M. PHAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court by order of reference is Tamara Brown's pro se complaint against the state of Tennessee. Pursuant to Administrative Order No. 2013-05, this case has been referred to the United States magistrate judge for management and for all pretrial matters for determination or report and recommendation, as appropriate. For the reasons below, it is recommended that the complaint be dismissed sua sponte pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         I. PROPOSED FINDINGS OF FACT

         Brown filed this complaint pro se on September 9, 2019. (ECF No. 1.) The court granted her motion to proceed in forma pauperis on September 24, 2019. (ECF No. 6.) Brown brings suit against the state of Tennessee under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Brown's statement of claim against Tennessee reads, in its entirety: “Employment discrimination based on race, sex, color[, and] religion.”

         II. PROPOSED CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

         A. Standard of Review

         This court is required to screen in forma pauperis complaints and must dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the action: (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i-iii).

         To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim, “‘a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “A claim is plausible on its face if the ‘plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, Inc. v. Napolitano, 648 F.3d 365, 369 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Without factual allegations in support, mere legal conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         Pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, and are thus liberally construed. Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011). Even so, pro so litigants must adhere to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, see Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989), and the court cannot create a claim that has not been spelled out in a pleading. See Brown v. Matauszak, 415 Fed.Appx. 608, 613 (6th Cir. 2011); Payne v. Sec'y of Treas., 73 Fed.Appx. 836, 837 (6th Cir. 2003).

         B. Sovereign Immunity

         The Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “[t]he Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.” U.S. Const. amend. XI. The Eleventh Amendment prohibits citizens from suing their own states in federal court. Welch v. Texas Dep't of Highways & Pub. Transp., 483 U.S. 468, 472 (1987); Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1989); see also Virginia Office for Protection & Advocacy v. Stewart, 131 S.Ct. 1632, 1638 (2011) (“A State may waive its sovereign immunity at its pleasure, and in some circumstances Congress may abrogate it by appropriate legislation. But absent waiver or valid abrogation, federal courts may not entertain a private person's suit against a State.” (citations omitted)). Tennessee has not waived its sovereign immunity. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 20-13-102(a). Moreover, “a state is not a ‘person' against whom a § 1983 claim for money damages might be asserted.” Lapides v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga., 535 U.S. 613, 617 (2002) (citing Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989)). Consequently, Brown's claim is barred by sovereign immunity.

         III. RECOMMENDATION

         For the reasons above, it is recommended that the court suasponte dismiss the complaint pursuant to 28 ...


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