United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE NEWBERN
Robert Thomas Irvin, a resident of Clarksville, Tennessee,
filed this pro se, in forma pauperis action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and Tennessee state law against The Fort Sill
National Bank. (Doc. No. 1).
REQUIRED SCREENING OF THE IN FORMA PAUPERIS
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), a court must dismiss any
portion of a civil complaint filed in forma pauperis that
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, is
frivolous, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief. Because Plaintiff is proceeding in
forma pauperis in this case, the Court must screen the
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Court must construe a pro se complaint liberally, United
States v. Smotherman, 838 F.3d 736, 739 (6th
Cir. 2016) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007)), and accept the plaintiff's factual
allegations as true unless they are entirely without
credibility. See Thomas v. Eby, 481 F.3d 434, 437
(6th Cir. 2007) (citing Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992)). Although pro se
pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v.
Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), the courts'
“duty to be ‘less stringent' with pro se
complaints does not require us to conjure up [unpleaded]
allegations.” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16,
19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted).
complaint alleges that Plaintiff was a customer of The Fort
Sill National Bank in Clarksville, Tennessee, for
approximately ten years. According to the complaint,
Plaintiff's Social Security check and a disability check
are always deposited in The Fort Sill National Bank but, on
April 18, 2019, the bank's supervisor threatened to close
Plaintiff's checking account due to an overdraft.
Plaintiff's account subsequently was closed, and
“his life style was put in danger . . . .” (Doc.
No. 1 at 2). Plaintiff had “to explain to his creditors
why he . . . was unable to pay his bills.”
(Id. at 6). The complaint also alleges that
Plaintiff was in the habit of making monthly withdrawals from
the bank in the form of gold dollar coins and that the bank
made this process very difficult for Plaintiff. Plaintiff
“has always had troubling types of experiences”
with the bank's manager, Mr. Short. (Id.)
Plaintiff asked to see the bank's security tapes and was
denied access to which he believes he is entitled.
complaint alleges that the bank is liable under Section 1983
for violating Plaintiff's rights. (Doc. No. 1 at 7).
Section 1983 requires that the party causing the deprivation
of civil rights be acting “under color of any statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or
Territory or the District of Columbia.” 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Thus, to successfully plead a Section 1983
claim, a plaintiff must allege (1) the deprivation of a right
secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and
(2) the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color
of state law. Tahfs v. Proctor, 316 F.3d 584, 590
(6th Cir. 2003). “A plaintiff may not proceed under
§ 1983 against a private party ‘no matter how
discriminatory or wrongful' the party's
conduct.” Id. (quoting Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins.
Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 50 (1999)).
Plaintiff brings Section 1983 claims against a private party.
The Supreme Court has set forth three tests to determine
whether conduct may be fairly attributable to the state in
order to hold a private party liable under Section 1983.
These tests are (1) the public function test; (2) the state
compulsion test; and (3) the nexus test. See Wolotsky v.
Huhn, 960 F.2d 1331, 1335 (6th Cir. 1992). The public
function test requires that the private actor exercise powers
which are traditionally reserved exclusively to the state.
Id. The state compulsion test requires proof that
the state significantly encouraged or somehow coerced the
private party, either overtly or covertly, to take a
particular action so that the choice is really that of the
state. Id. Finally, the nexus test requires a
sufficiently close relationship (i.e., through state
regulation or contract) between the state and the private
party so that the action taken may be attributed to the
cannot establish that The Fort Sill National Bank is a state
actor under the public function test. The public function
test requires that the private actor exercise powers which
are traditionally reserved exclusively to the state, such as
holding elections or exercising eminent domain. See
Id. Here, Plaintiff has not provided any facts
explaining how a private bank was exercising a power
traditionally reserved to the state. Therefore, Defendant is
not a state actor under the public function test.
Plaintiff establish that Defendant is a state actor under the
state compulsion test. The state compulsion test requires
that a state exercise such coercive power or provide such
significant encouragement, either overt or covert, that in
law the acts of a private citizen are deemed to be that of
the state. See Blum v. Yaretsky, 457 U.S. 991, 1004
(1982). Plaintiff has provided no facts suggesting that the
state encouraged or coerced the bank into action.
Plaintiff cannot establish that Defendant is a state actor
under the symbiotic relationship or nexus test. The acts of a
private citizen constitute state action when there is a
sufficiently close nexus between the state and the challenged
action so that the action of the private citizen may be
fairly treated as that of the state itself. See Jackson
v. Metro. Edison Co., 419 U.S. 345, 351 (1974). A
plaintiff must show that the state is intimately involved in
the challenged private conduct in order for that conduct to
be attributed to the state for the purposes of Section 1983.
The complaint fails to state any facts to support a
relationship between Defendant and the state that led to any