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Mitchell v. Breakfield

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

March 13, 2019

CINDY MITCHELL PLAINTIFF
v.
OFFICER CHELSEE BREAKFIELD DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          THOMAS B. RUSSELL, SENIOR JUDGE

         This is a pro se prisoner civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff Cindy Mitchell leave to proceed in forma pauperis. This matter is before the Court for screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's claims but allow her the opportunity to amend her complaint.

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff is incarcerated as a convicted prisoner at the McCracken County Jail (MCJ). She brings this action against Officer Chelsee Breakfield of the Paducah Police Department in her official capacity only.[1]

         In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges as follows:

On Sunday July 1st, 2018, Officer [] Breakfield answered a call from Laura Hayden and came to my motel room at Hickory House . . . peeping in my window all because Laura Hayden was physically trying to get $300.00 out of my federal government survivors pension under false pretenses. That is a small claims court case and that is what Officer [] Breakfield should have told Mrs. Hayden. Instead, Officer [] Breakfield arrested me based on Laura Hayden's phone call. She also illegally searched the motel room without a search warrant. She basically forced me to incriminate myself. She turned her back and walked into the bathroom and came back outside and said this is your meth pipe. But she never found anything on my person or in any of my belongings . . . . Offcer [] Breakfield also illegally stripped searched me and exposed my breast to her male partner . . . and tried to expose my vagina to him as well. Also Chris Myers was in Room 122 with me. He has a pryor manufacturing meth case from 2006 and Officer [] Breakfield arrested me but did not arrest Chris Myers that was discrimination.

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages and states that “Officer [] Breakfield should lose her job."

         II. LEGAL 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).

         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)). “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).

         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

         “Section 1983 creates no substantive rights, but merely provides remedies for deprivations of rights established elsewhere.” Flint ex rel. Flint v. Ky. Dep't of Corr., 270 F.3d 340, 351 (6th Cir. 2001). Two elements are required to state a claim under § 1983. Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635 (1980). “[A] plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). “Absent either element, a section 1983 claim will not lie.” Christy v. Randlett, 932 F.2d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 1991).

         Plaintiff sues Defendant Breakfield in her official capacity only. “[O]fficial-capacity suits . . . ‘generally represent [] another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent.'” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985) (quoting Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs.,436 U.S. 658, 691 n.55 (1978)). Thus, Plaintiff's official-capacity claims against Defendant Breakfield are actually against her employer, which is the City of Paducah. See, e.g., Lambert v. Hartman, 517 F.3d 433, 440 (6th Cir. ...


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