United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
KAVIN M. CARTER, Plaintiff,
KRISTI N. TRUITT, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PHAM United States Magistrate Judge
September 19, 2019, plaintiff Kavin M. Carter, filed a
pro se complaint and a motion to proceed
in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) The
undersigned granted Carter leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (ECF No. 6.) As a result, the court must
screen the complaint under 28 U.S.C. Â§ 1915. Based on the
following analysis, it is recommended that the complaint be
PROPOSED FINDINGS OF FACT
complaint, Carter alleges that Kristi N. Truitt was the
probation/parole officer with the State of Tennessee
Department of Corrections who has been assigned to supervise
him. (ECF No. 1, at 2.) Carter asserts that Truitt submitted
false documents to her supervisor and “used her power
as probation officer to deny [Carter's] civil
rights.” (Id.) The complaint states that
Truitt “abused her duties in a hostile and intimidating
way.” (Id.) The complaint contains no other
PROPOSED CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Section 1915 Screening
to § 1915, in proceedings in forma pauperis,
the court shall dismiss the case at any time if it determines
that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary
relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). In order to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, “a plaintiff must allege
facts that state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face and that, if accepted as true, are sufficient to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.” Mills
v. Barnard, 869 F.3d 473, 479 (6th Cir. 2017) (internal
quotation marks omitted). When reviewing a complaint under
this standard, the court construes the complaint “in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its
allegations as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in
favor of the plaintiff.” Id. (quoting
Directv, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir.
2007)). “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.'” Ctr. for
Bio-Ethical Reform, Inc. v. Napolitano, 648 F.3d 365,
369 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). The court need not “accept as
true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences, and
[c]onclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as
factual allegations will not suffice.” In re Travel
Agent Comm'n Antitrust Litig., 583 F.3d 896, 903
(6th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted).
courts liberally construe pro se arguments, even
pro se complaints must satisfy the plausibility
standard. Barnett v. Luttrell, 414 Fed.Appx. 784,
786 (6th Cir. 2011); see also Pilgrim v.
Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996)
(“[T]he lenient treatment generally accorded to pro se
litigants has limits.”). “The basic pleading
essentials are not abrogated in pro se cases.”
Matthews v. City of Memphis, No. 2:14-cv-02094, 2014
WL 3049906, at *3 (W.D. Tenn. July 3, 2014) (citing Wells
v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989)).
“Courts ‘have no obligation to act as counsel or
paralegal' to pro se litigants.” Id.
(quoting Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231 (2004)).
“Courts are also not ‘required to create' a
pro se litigant's claim for him.” Id.
(quoting Payne v. Sec'y of Treasury, 73
Fed.Appx. 836, 837 (6th Cir. 2003)).
§ 1983 Claim
seeks to assert a § 1983 claim against Truitt. “To
state a cognizable claim against an individual under §
1983, a plaintiff must set forth facts that, when construed
favorably, establish (1) the deprivation of a right secured
by the Constitution or laws of the United States (2) caused
by a person acting under color of state law.”
Heyerman v. Cty. of Calhoun, 680 F.3d 642, 647 (6th
Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted). “Persons
sued in their individual capacities under § 1983 can be
held liable based only on their own unconstitutional
behavior.” Id. (citations omitted).
“Section 1983 is not itself a source of any substantive
rights, but instead provides the means by which rights
conferred elsewhere may be enforced.” Meals v. City
of Memphis, 493 F.3d 720, 727 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing
Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)). A
plaintiff's “failure to establish any violation of
a federal right” is grounds to dismiss for failure to
state a claim under § 1983. Wiles v. Ascom Transp.
Sys., 478 Fed.Appx. 283, 285 (6th Cir. 2012); see
also Coleman v. Parra, 163 F.Supp.2d 876, 882 (S.D. Ohio
Nov. 3, 2000) (“Absent such a violation, no cognizable
claim exists under § 1983.”). Accordingly, the
“first task” of the court “is to identify
the specific constitutional or statutory rights allegedly
infringed.” Meals, 493 F.3d at 727-28 (citing
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394 (1989)).
case, Carter has not identified any “specific
constitutional or statutory rights allegedly infringed”
by Truitt. See id. Rather, he complains of Truitt
“using her power as probation officer to deny [his]
civil rights.” (ECF No. 1 at 2.) General references to
abuse of authority do not plausibly allege a constitutional
violation. See Meals, 493 F.3d at 727-28. The lone
allegation of any misconduct by Truitt states that she
“submitted false documents” to her supervisor.
(ECF No. 1 at 2.) Carter does not state what constitutional
right this conduct purportedly violates, and this court is
under no obligation to craft Carter's claim for him.
See Matthews, 2014 WL 3049906, at *3. Because Carter
fails to plausibly allege a constitutional deprivation, his
complaint fails to state a claim under § 1983. See
Baker, 443 U.S. at 146-47 (“Having been deprived
of no rights secured under the United States Constitution,
respondent had no claim cognizable under §
The Heck Doctrine
has not alleged that Truitt's purportedly
unconstitutional conduct has led to revocation of his
probation/parole and incarceration. To the extent Carter
seeks to do so, his claims are barred by Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) and its progeny. “In
Heck, the Supreme Court held that a state prisoner
cannot pursue a § 1983 claim for damages if the
prisoner's success would ‘necessarily imply the
invalidity of his conviction or sentence[.]'”
LaFountain v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 950 (6th Cir.
2013)(quoting Heck, 512 U.S. at 487). “The
Court later extended its holding to suits that challenge the
procedures used in prison-disciplinary proceedings when the
results of those proceedings impact the duration of a
prisoner's sentence.” Id. (citing
Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 646, 648 (1997)).
“The Court has since explained the rule as follows:
‘a state prisoner's § 1983 action is barred
(absent prior invalidation [of his conviction])-no matter the
relief sought (damages or equitable relief), no matter the
target of the prisoner's suit (state conduct leading to
conviction or internal prison proceedings)-if success in that
action would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of
confinement or its duration.'” Id.
(quoting Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81-82
Heck doctrine applies to § 1983 actions in
which plaintiffs seek to “challeng[e] state parole
revocation proceedings in the absence of a previous decision
by a state or a federal court declaring the parole revocation
invalid.” Smith v. Taylor-Pedersen, No.
5:17-cv-11532, 2018 WL 2376567, at *3 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 30,
2018) (citing Norwood v. Michigan Dep't of
Corrs., 67 Fed.Appx. 286, 287 (6th Cir. 2003); Oakes
v. VanDeusen, No. 1:07cv678, 2008 WL 4057838, at *3
(W.D. Mich. Aug. 28, 2008)); seealso Soldan v.
Robinson, No. 19-cv-12227, 2019 WL 3892564, at *1 (E.D.
Mich. Aug. 19, 2019). The Heck doctrine applies also
in the probation context. See Lucas v. Prob. &
Parole, No. 3:08CV-P301-S, 2010 WL 694209, at *3 (W.D.
Ky. Feb. 23, 2010) (“[W]ere the Court to find that
Defendants violated Plaintiff's due process rights by
making false allegations in the probation violators warrant
and revocation hearing, such an action would necessarily
demonstrate the invalidity of ...