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Sanderson v. Healey

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

July 2, 2018




         Plaintiff Antonio D. Sanderson filed the instant pro se 28 U.S.C. § 1983 action proceeding in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court on the initial review of the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Upon review of the complaint, the Court will dismiss some of Plaintiff's claims and allow one of his claims to proceed for further development.


         Plaintiff was an inmate at the Todd County Detention Center when he filed the instant action and has since been released from incarceration. He sues the following Defendants: Detective Steven Healey; LMPD, which the Court presumes is the Louisville Metro Police Department; Police Chief Steve Conrad; “Louisville, Jefferson Co. Metro Gov.”; District Attorney Mike Anderson; the Commonwealth of Kentucky; and Governor Matt Bevin. He sues Defendant Healey in both his individual and official capacities and sues all of the other individually named Defendants in their official capacities only.

         Plaintiff alleges that on August 21, 2013, the LMPD “Metro Narcotics Unit/Viper Unit[, ]” headed by Defendant Healey, intentionally violated his constitutional rights. He states that he first encountered detectives outside of his home as he was about to get on the elevator. He reports that he was placed in handcuffs and read his rights “[]as if I was being detained and not free to leave[].” Plaintiff states that he was then presented with two search warrants which contained two different addresses - 140 North 4 Street #1442 and 140 North 4th Street #1342 in Louisville, Kentucky. Plaintiff states, “Neither of the two search warrants had an affidavit for search attached to them! Both were just the face of the search warrants!” Plaintiff asserts that the detectives “then searched both addresses and contraband was found on one of the premises.” He states, “I was then taken to LMDC to be prosecuted. I then began the pre-trial process, and for several months an affidavit for search warrant was never presented in court, but still the prosecution maliciously persued a conviction (offering 22 yrs and PFO 1).” Plaintiff reports that the affidavit for the search warrant “was finally presented to the Court[]” on July 24, 2014. He maintains that the affidavit authorized the search of a third address, 140 North 4th Street #741 in Louisville, which “was never presented in any of the face warrants shown at the time of the incident on August 21, 2013.” He states that the address authorized to be searched in the warrant was never searched and that neither of the two addresses which were searched were in fact authorized to be searched. He states, “The detectives knowingly and intentionally, illegally searched my . . . home without a legal search warrant.”

         Plaintiff asserts that nine detectives “abused their authority by becoming above the law and intentionally violating my 4th and 14th Amendment rights, by detaining me without an arrest warrant, and illegally searching two addresses that was never authorized to be conducted in a search.” Plaintiff lists the names of nine officers and their badge numbers. He continues, “These nine detectives fabricated their information and misled the court to obtain a search warrant.” He maintains that no timeframe was offered in connection with a tip given by a confidential informant and that no evidence or statements from the confidential informant were given to support the search conducted by the detectives.

         Plaintiff states, “The ‘manifest injustice' against me . . . ‘was not the result of mere flaws in the judicial system,' but instead the product of a conspiracy by [LMPD]. These nine police officers . . . conspired together, and intentionally illegally seized my person, papers, property, and illegally searched my home, that led to the ‘527' days I spent unlawfully imprisoned . . . .” He further maintains that, because “‘a suit against LMPD for a 4th Amendment violation,' has to be filed within 1 year from the date, the illegal search and seizure occurred[, ]” it is “more than likely the reason the affidavit for search warrant was never presented to the court until approximately 1 year after the illegal search and seizure occured.”

         Plaintiff also maintains that during the court proceedings, prosecutors John J. Balenovich and Josh Porter and Defendant Healey “maliciously persued a conviction, that led to the stress, depression, and drug use, which led to me cutting the home incarceration bracelet from my ankle, and led to me being convicted for Escape 2nd.” He continues, “Although the justice system functioned in the sense that all of the charges were eventually dismissed, the defendants nevertheless succeeded in manipulating the system, depriving me . . . of my life, and liberty as if I were wrongfully convicted.”

         Plaintiff asserts that Defendant LMPD “is the official capacity for []Detective: Steven Healey and the other 8 detectives that participated in the civil rights violation of my person. LMPD is responsible/liable for the proper training, conduct, and practices performed by these 9 detectives.” Plaintiff also states that Defendant Conrad “serve[s] as Representative for LMPD and Chief of Police.” In regards to Defendant Commonwealth of Kentucky, Plaintiff states that “‘District Attorney: Andy Beshear'” is “responsible/liable for any and all U.S. constitutional violations caused by government officials, and any and all official authorities it is subordinate to.” Plaintiff makes similar claims of liability on the part of the separately listed “State of Kentucky” and Defendants Bevin, “Louisville, Jefferson Co. Metro Gov., ” and Anderson. He further states that Defendant Healey is “the arresting officer, and the affiant in the illegal search warrant that led to U.S. constitutional rights violation, malicious prosecution, and unlawful imprisonment of my person.”

         Plaintiff next sets out the following seven numbered claims: (1) violation of the Fourth Amendment; (2) violation of the Fifth Amendment; (3) violation of the Eighth Amendment; (4) violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; (5) malicious prosecution; (6) unlawful imprisonment; and (7) “Theft by Unlawful Taking over $8, 000.” The Court will summarize Plaintiff's allegations supporting each claim below.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief in the form of an order to “cease and desist the constitutional violations caused upon my person (past/present/future) by [LMPD], and any and all official authority it is subordinate to.” He also requests that Defendant Healey be fired from LMPD.

         II. STANDARD

         When a 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 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). When determining whether a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all of the factual allegations as true. Prater v. City of Burnside, Ky., 289 F.3d 417, 424 (6th Cir. 2002).

         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)). “But the district court need not accept a ‘bare assertion of legal conclusions.'” Tackett, 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting Columbia Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995)).

         Although this Court recognizes that pro se pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991), “[o]ur duty to be ‘less stringent' with pro se complaints does not require us to conjure up unpled allegations.” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979) (citation omitted). And this Court is not required to create a claim for Plaintiff. Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975). To command otherwise would require the Court “to explore exhaustively all potential claims of a pro se plaintiff, [and] would also transform the district court from its legitimate advisory role to the improper role of an advocate seeking out the strongest arguments and most successful strategies for a party.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. State defendants

         1. Commonwealth of Kentucky[1]

         To state a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege that a “person” acting under color of state law deprived the plaintiff of a right secured by the Constitution or federal law. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. A state and its agencies are not “persons” subject to suit under § 1983. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989); Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994). Therefore, Plaintiff fails to state a cognizable claim against the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

         Additionally, the Eleventh Amendment[2] acts as a bar to all claims for relief against the Commonwealth of Kentucky. A state and its agencies may not be sued in federal court, regardless of the relief sought, unless the state has waived its sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment or Congress has overridden it. Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Auth. v. Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., 506 U.S. 139, 146 (1993); Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 124 (1984); Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978). The Commonwealth of Kentucky has not waived its immunity, see Adams v. Morris, 90 Fed.Appx. 856, 857 (6th Cir. 2004), and in enacting ยง 1983, Congress did not intend ...

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