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Little v. Memphis Police Department

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

October 30, 2019

LEE MARL LITTLE, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
MEMPHIS POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, CERTIFYING AN APPEAL WOULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH, NOTIFYING PLAINTIFF OF APPELLATE FILING FEE, AND DENYING AS MOOT REQUEST FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL

          THOMAS L. PARKER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Lee Marl Little, Jr., an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Memphis, Tennessee (“FCI Memphis”), sued pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and moved to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 4.) The Court granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the civil filing fee under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 5.) The Court directs the Clerk to record the Defendants as the Memphis Police Department (“MPD”); Detectives D. Gooch, R. Jackson, D. Smith, J. Myers, M. Stephens, R. Tabor, I. Ruiz, and J. Gross; and the Memphis City Attorney.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff contests actions of MPD detectives leading to his arrest on firearm and drug charges. He contests the warrant Detective Gooch provided supporting Plaintiff's traffic stop and later arrest. (Id. at PageID 3-5.) During the stop, Detective Gooch searched Plaintiff's car and found drugs. (Id. at PageID 7.) Plaintiff alleges MPD officers then took the drugs to his home and searched the home without a warrant based on only a tip from an unnamed confidential informant. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2-3.) According to Plaintiff, Detective Gooch found a firearm, ammunition, and “a large sum of money” in the home. (Id. at PageID 7.) Detective Gooch then “grouped” those items together with drugs in Plaintiff's car and photographed them to make it appear “as though all of it were found solely at the home.” (Id.) Plantiff alleges after the search, officers obtained “a correct warrant issued to support the illegal search, ” but the warrant listed an incorrect address. (Id. at PageID 8.) Plaintiff asserts that Detective Gooch “simply changed the address and wrote it in.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff mentions no other detective but alleges that Detective Gooch, “and his support staff, all colluded and conspired with each other, to participate in the lie that there was a warrant supporting they're [sic] actions.” (Id. at PageID 5.) Plaintiff asserts that the MPD and City Attorney “are involved in one way or the other, all in they're [sic] individual and municipal capacity, a[s] part of this illegal search and seizure of the petitioner.” (Id. at PageID 6.) He seeks to hold the MPD responsible for “hiring and supporting” Detective Gooch and the others involved. (Id. at PageID 3, 6.) And he seeks to hold the unnamed Memphis City Attorney responsible for “participating and colluding as to this illegal search and seizure.” (Id. at PageID 3.)

         Plaintiff sues Defendants in their individual capacities. (Id. at PageID 2.) He seeks compensatory damages. (Id. at PageID 8-9.)

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         I. Screening Requirements Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         The Court has to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion of it, 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 that relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         As to step one, in assessing whether the complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, the Court applies the standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 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). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). Under those standards, 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” because they are not “factual” and legal conclusions “must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. And Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 provides guidance on this issue.

         Even though Rule 8 only requires a complaint to contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” it also requires factual allegations to make a “‘showing,' rather than a ...


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