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Bell v. City of Jamestown

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

June 27, 2018

JEREMY BELL PLAINTIFF
v.
CITY OF JAMESTOWN DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Greg N. Stivers, Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff Jeremy Bell's pro se complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss the claims against the City of Jamestown and provide Plaintiff an opportunity to file an amended complaint.

         I. SUMMARY OF CLAIMS

         Plaintiff is a convicted inmate currently incarcerated in Northpoint Training Center. He brings suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Jamestown, Kentucky.

         Plaintiff claims that he was at work “in the City of Jamestown when the Jamestown Police came to his work place and told the plaintiff that he had to come with them” and that “[t]he officer had placed the plaintiff in the police car and took him to the police station for interrogation.” Plaintiff further claims that the “Jamestown Police had no arrest warrant for the plaintiff to have him placed in the police car let alon[e] they [had] no probable cause to arrest the plaintiff.”

          Additionally, Plaintiff claims that “the Jamestown Police and other police officers had obtained a search warrant ten (10) days after the plaintiff was lodged in the [Russell County] detention center. The officer's had taken several of the plaintiffs belongings as well as other various items.” He claims that the “search warrant and affidavit of search warrant was never filed within the court. Thus making the search warrant illegal.”

         In a subpoena form attached to Plaintiff's complaint, he references Russell Circuit Court No. 11-CR-0095.

         Plaintiff alleges violations of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and of Section Ten of the Kentucky Constitution. As relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary and punitive damages.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When a prisoner seeks relief against governmental entities, officers, and/or employees, the trial court must review the complaint and dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the court determines that it 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 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007).

         A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). The trial court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Id. at 327. In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, “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) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[A] district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).

         III. ANALYSIS

         When a § 1983 claim is made against a municipality, such as the City of Jamestown, this Court must analyze two distinct issues: (1) whether 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.

         “[A] 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, 436 U.S. at 691; 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)). To demonstrate municipal liability, a plaintiff “must (1) identify the municipal policy or custom, (2) connect the policy to the ...


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