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Taylor v. Miles

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

January 8, 2020

MARK TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN MILES, Defendant.

          ORDER DISMISSING CASE, DENYING AS MOOT MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS, CERTIFYING AN APPEAL WOULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH AND DENYING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          JAMES D. TODD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On November 4, 2019, Plaintiff Mark Taylor, who at the time of filing was incarcerated at the Madison County Criminal Justice Complex in Jackson, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) After Taylor submitted the necessary documents, the Court issued an order granting leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessing the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 8.)[1] Taylor sues attorney John Miles.

         Taylor alleges that he hired Miles to represent him in a state-court criminal matter, in which he was charged with unlawfully possessing a firearm, vandalism, and reckless endangerment. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 2.) Taylor paid Miles $3, 500 but alleges that Miles did nothing, and he never heard from Miles after paying him. (Id.) In an attachment to the complaint, Taylor details some of the work Miles did as his attorney, including appearing at his second court appearance and advising him to accept a blind plea agreement. (ECF No. 1-1 at PageID 4-5.) Taylor asserts that Miles “never did anything to get me a plea deal, ” and Taylor was forced to represent himself at trial. (Id. at PageID 6.)

         Taylor seeks $25, 000 as a “full refund” from Miles's representation and as compensatory damages. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 3; ECF No. 1-1 at PageID 6.)

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, 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 such relief.

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

         In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 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), are applied. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). 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, ” and legal conclusions “must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although a complaint need only contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), Rule 8 nevertheless requires factual allegations to make a “‘showing,' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3.

         “Pro se complaints are to be held ‘to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,' and should therefore be liberally construed.” Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)). Pro se litigants, however, are not exempt from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 Fed.Appx. 608, 612, 613 (6th Cir. Jan. 31, 2011) (affirming dismissal of pro se complaint for failure to comply with “unique pleading requirements” and stating “a court cannot ‘create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading'” (quoting Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975))).

         Taylor filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . .

         To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) a deprivation of rights secured by the “Constitution and laws” of the United States (2) committed by a defendant acting under color of state law. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 150 (1970).

         Taylor may not sue his attorney under § 1983. Courts have uniformly held that private attorneys are not state actors who can be sued under § 1983. See Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 318 (1981) (“[A] lawyer representing a client is not, by virtue of being an officer of the court, a state actor ‘under color of state law' within the meaning of § 1983.”); Mulligan v. Schlachter, 389 F.2d 231, 233 (6th Cir. 1968) (private attorney who is appointed by the court does not act under color of state law); Deas v. Potts, 547 F.2d 800 (4th Cir. 1976) (“A private ...


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