United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.
Lattanzio is a resident of Lexington, Kentucky. Proceeding
without an attorney, Lattanzio has filed a civil rights
complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and has paid the
filing fee. [R. 1] The Court must conduct a preliminary
review of Lattanzio's complaint. 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601,
608 (6th Cir. 1997) (“Even if a non-prisoner pays the
filing fee and/or is represented by counsel, the complaint
must be screened under § 1915(e)(2).”),
abrogated on other grounds in Jones v. Bock, 549
U.S. 199 (2007).
district court must dismiss any claim that is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d
468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). When testing the sufficiency of
Lattanzio's complaint, the Court affords it a forgiving
construction, accepting as true all non-conclusory factual
allegations and liberally construing its legal claims in the
plaintiff's favor. Davis v. Prison Health
Servs., 679 F.3d 433, 437-38 (6th Cir. 2012).
complaint, Lattanzio alleges that on December 21, 2016,
officers from Scott County, Kentucky responded to a domestic
disturbance and entered his residence without probable cause
or a warrant, and then placed him in handcuffs and arrested
him without justification. He further alleges that once he
arrived at the Scott County Jail, he was not given his
prescription medications, and was placed in a small, cold
cell (minus 65 degrees, he contends) where he had to sit on
the floor. Lattanzio states that the next day in the
resulting criminal case against him, Commonwealth v.
Lattanzio, No. 16-M-939, he was ordered to be released
on bond. However, jail staff did not release him until five
hours later when he was served with an emergency protective
order (“EPO”) to avoid contact with the victim of
his alleged assault. [R. 1 at 1-3]
further alleges that the EPO was “falsely
obtained” and “willfully fabricated, ” and
that the Scott District Court refused to conduct a probable
cause hearing or consider his challenge to its personal
jurisdiction over him. He continues that during those
proceedings, the prosecution falsified testimony, documents
and evidence against him and that the Court permitted and
accepted this testimony in violation of his due process
rights. Lattanzio indicates that the charges against him were
ultimately dropped several months later. [R. 1-1 at 3-5]
Lattanzio alleges that these actions violated his rights
under the United States and Kentucky Constitutions as well as
the “Civil RICO Act, ” and constituted an abuse
of process and gross negligence under Kentucky law. [R. 1 at
has named five defendants in this action. The first of these
is the Commonwealth of Kentucky. However, the Eleventh
Amendment to the United States Constitution specifically
prohibits federal courts from exercising subject matter
jurisdiction over a suit for money damages brought directly
against the state, its agencies, and state officials sued in
their official capacities. Puerto Rico Aqueduct &
Sewer Auth. v. Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., 506 U.S. 139,
687-88 (1993); Cady v. Arenac Co., 574 F.3d 334, 342
(6th Cir. 2009); Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159,
169 (1985). In addition, states, state agencies, and state
officials sued in their official capacities for monetary
damages are not considered “persons” within the
meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Matthews v. Jones,
35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994). The Court will therefore
dismiss the federal constitutional claims against the
Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Court construes Lattanzio's claim under the “Civil
RICO Act” as asserted under the Racketeer Influenced
and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1962
(“RICO”). However, federal and state governments
do not constitute “persons” within the meaning of
the RICO statute. Berger v. Pierce, 933 F.2d 393,
397 (6th Cir. 1991). The same is true with respect to
counties within Kentucky. Smallwood v. Jefferson County
Government, 743 F.Supp. 502, 503-04 (W.D. Ky. 1990). In
addition, Lattanzio's complaint fails to identify any
predicate acts as a basis for RICO liability, and his
conclusory allegations are too non-specific to sufficiently
plead a RICO claim. The Court will therefore dismiss the RICO
claims against all defendants.
next three defendants are Scott County, Kentucky, as well as
its police department and jail. While Lattanzio lists these
as three separate defendants, in reality it is only one. The
police department and jail are not legal entities independent
of the county that operates them; instead they are merely
administrative departments operated by the county. Cf.
Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 439-40 (6th Cir.
2008); Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th
Cir. 1994) (“Since the Police Department is not an
entity which may be sued, Jefferson County is the proper
party to address the allegations of Matthews's
complaint.”). The Court will therefore treat
Lattanzio's claims against the police department and jail
as asserted against Scott County itself. Bush v. Carter
County Det. Ctr., No. 10-CV-16-DLB, 2011 WL 3880468, at
*1 n.1 (E.D. Ky. Aug. 29, 2011).
Lattanzio complains that the actions of the police officers
and jail staff were wrongful, he does not assert that they
were taken pursuant to an established policy of Scott County.
To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss “a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009). A claim is facially plausible if “the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Because a
county government is only responsible under § 1983 when
its employees cause injury by carrying out the county's
formal policies or practices, Monell v. Dept. of Social
Services, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978), a plaintiff must
specify the county policy or custom which he alleges caused
his injury. Paige v. Coyner, 614 F.3d 273, 284 (6th
points to no such policy in his complaint, and these claims
are therefore subject to dismissal for failure to state a
claim. Id.; Bright v. Gallia County, Ohio,
753 F.3d 639, 660 (6th Cir. 2014) (“To establish
municipal liability pursuant to § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege an unconstitutional action that ‘implements or
executes a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or
decision officially adopted and promulgated by that
body's officers' or a ‘constitutional
deprivation  visited pursuant to governmental custom even
though such a custom has not received formal approval through
the body's official decisionmaking
channels.'”); Brown v. Cuyahoga County,
Ohio, 517 F. App'x 431, 436 (6th Cir. 2013).
fifth and last defendant is the Scott County Attorney, whom
Lattanzio alleges presented false evidence and failed to
disclose Brady materials in the criminal proceedings
against him. Even if Lattanzio's claims are true,
however, they are barred by the absolute prosecutorial
immunity enjoyed by prosecutors for their actions central to
the judicial proceeding against defendants. Imbler v.
Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409 (1976); Van de Kamp v.
Goldstein, 555 U.S. 335, 342-46 (2009); Adams v.
Hanson, 656 F.3d 397, 401-03 (6th Cir. 2011). This claim
must also be dismissed.
Court has not addressed Lattanzio's claims under the
Kentucky Constitution, nor his claims arising under
Kentucky's common law for abuse of process and gross
negligence. However, a district court may “decline to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim [if] the
district court has dismissed all claims over which it has
original jurisdiction ...” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
Where, as here, the Court has dismissed all of the plaintiffs
federal claims, the Court concludes that the balance of
judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity all point
toward declining supplemental jurisdiction.
Carnegie-Mellon University v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343
(1988); Musson Theatrical, Inc. v. Federal Exp.
Corp., 89 F.3d 1244, 1255 (6th Cir. 1996) (noting that
“[i]f the court dismisses plaintiffs federal claims
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), then supplemental jurisdiction can
never exist, ” and that “[a]fter a 12(b)(6)
dismissal, there is a strong presumption in favor of
dismissing supplemental claims.”). The Court will
therefore dismiss the plaintiffs state law claims without
IT IS ORDERED that:
federal claims asserted in James Lattanzio's complaint
[R. 1] are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE; the
claims arising under ...