United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. HALE, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Kenneth Dean Cimiotta filed a pro se 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 complaint proceeding in forma pauperis.
On initial screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and
McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601 (6th Cir.
1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock,
549 U.S. 199 (2007), the Court ordered Plaintiff to provide
additional information concerning the state charges against
him. Plaintiff has complied (DN 6). For the foregoing
reasons, this action will be dismissed in part and allowed to
continue in part
identifies himself as a pretrial detainee at the Hardin
County Detention Center. He names Elizabethtown Police
Officer Ryan Slaubaugh as Defendant in his individual and
official capacities. Plaintiff states that on September 18,
2016, he was pulled over by Defendant because the light on
his rear license plate not working. However, he asserts that
a video of the traffic stop shows that the light was working.
He alleges: “After almost a year charges were dropped
on September 12, 2017, have been in jail almost six months on
these charges.” Plaintiff alleges: “false
arrest[;] unlawful containment[;] illegal search and
seizure[;] harassment[; and] profiling.”
prisoner initiates a civil action seeking redress from a
governmental entity, officer, or employee, the trial court
must review the complaint and dismiss the complaint, or any
portion of it, if the court determines that the complaint 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. See §
1915A(b)(1), (2); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d
U.S. Supreme Court has held:
If a plaintiff files a false arrest claim before he has been
convicted (or files any other claim related to rulings that
will likely be made in a pending or anticipated criminal
trial), it is within the power of the district court, and in
accord with common practice, to stay the civil action until
the criminal case or the likelihood of a criminal case is
Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 393 (2007). In light
of Wallace v. Kato, if Plaintiff had a criminal case
stemming from his allegations that is still pending, it might
be necessary for the Court to stay the instant action until
completion of the criminal matter. Alternatively, if
Plaintiff has been convicted of the charges which he claims
were brought illegally, his claims might be barred by the
doctrine announced in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477, 486-87 (1994). Under the Heck doctrine, a state
prisoner may not file a § 1983 suit for damages or
equitable relief challenging his conviction or sentence if a
ruling on his claim would render the conviction or sentence
invalid, until and unless the conviction or sentence has been
reversed on direct appeal, expunged by Executive Order,
declared invalid by a state tribunal, or has been called into
question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of
habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Heck, 512
U.S. at 486-87; Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74,
81-82 (2005) (“[A] state prisoner's § 1983
action is barred (absent prior invalidation) - no matter the
relief sought (damages or equitable relief), no matter the
target of the prisoner's suit . . . - if success in that
action would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of
confinement or its duration.”).
the Court ordered Plaintiff to provide additional information
as to the status of the criminal charges against him (DN 5).
In response (DN 6), Plaintiff provided documents pertaining
to a state-court criminal action against him (16-CR-00851) in
Hardin Circuit Court. That criminal case consisted of charges
of several criminal offenses including “rear license
not illuminating.” Plaintiff has provided a copy of an
agreed order dismissing this criminal action without
prejudice entered by the Hardin Circuit Court on September 5,
2017. Therefore, it appears that neither a stay pursuant to
Wallace v. Kato nor the imposition of the Heck
v. Humphrey bar is warranted in this case. The Court
will allow Plaintiff's individual-capacity claims against
Defendant Slaubaugh to proceed.
the Court must dismiss Plaintiff's official-capacity
claims. Defendant Slaubaugh is an Elizabethtown police
officer. If an action is brought against an official of a
governmental entity in his official capacity, the suit should
be construed as brought against the governmental entity.
Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S.
58, 71 (1989). Therefore, in the case at bar, Plaintiff's
claims against an Elizabethtown police officer in his
official capacity are actually brought against the City of
Elizabethtown. See Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046,
1049 (6th Cir. 1994).
§ 1983 claim is made against a municipality, a court
must analyze two distinct issues: (1) whether the
plaintiff's harm was caused by a constitutional
violation; and (2) if so, whether the municipality is
responsible for that violation. Collins v. City of Harker
Heights, Tex., 503 U.S. 115, 120 (1992). The
Court will address the issues in reverse order.
municipality cannot be held liable solely because it
employs a tortfeasor - or, in other words, a municipality
cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat
superior theory.” Monell v. New York City
Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978)
(emphasis in original); Searcy v. City of Dayton, 38
F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir. 1994); Berry v. City of
Detroit, 25 F.3d 1342, 1345 (6th Cir. 1994).
“[T]he touchstone of ‘official policy' is
designed ‘to distinguish acts of the
municipality from acts of employees of the
municipality, and thereby make clear that municipal liability
is limited to action for which the municipality is actually
responsible.'” City of St. Louis v.
Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 138 (1988) (quoting
Pembaur v. Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 479-80 (1986))
(emphasis in Pembaur).
municipality cannot be held responsible for a constitutional
deprivation unless there is a direct causal link between a
municipal policy or custom and the alleged constitutional
deprivation. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691; Deaton v.
Montgomery Cty., Ohio, 989 F.2d 885, 889 (6th Cir.
1993). Simply stated, the plaintiff must “identify the
policy, connect the policy to the city itself and show that
the particular injury was incurred because of the execution
of that policy.” Garner v. Memphis Police
Dep't, 8 F.3d 358, 364 (6th Cir. 1993) (quoting
Coogan v. City of Wixom, 820 F.2d 170, 176 (6th Cir.
1987), overruled on other grounds, Frantz v.
Vill. of Bradford, 245 F.3d 869 (6th Cir. 2001)). The
policy or custom “must be ‘the moving force of
the constitutional violation' in order to establish the
liability of a government body under § 1983.”
Searcy, 38 F.3d at ...