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Davis v. Sears Dept. Store

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

August 28, 2013

ROBERT T. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
SEARS DEPT. STORE, et al., Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER [Resolving Doc. No. 1]

JAMES S. GWIN, District Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff Robert T. Davis filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Sears Department Store in Elyria, Ohio, Elyria Municipal Court Judge Lisa Lockgraves, Lorain County Common Pleas Court Judge Edward Zeleski, Lorain County Assistant Prosecutor Pierre Christopher, Lorain County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Riedthenur, Lorain County Court Clerk Eric Rothgeary, Elyria Police Officer Brandon Pool, Elyria Police Officer Daniel Sumpter, and Attorney Robert A. Gaffney. In the Complaint, Plaintiff makes a Fourth Amendment claim for malicious prosecution after criminal charges were brought against him for identity fraud and forgery and after those charges were dismissed on speedy trial grounds.

Davis now seeks monetary damages against the store that summoned police, the officers who arrested him, the prosecutors who initiated and litigated the case against him, the Judges who presided over the case, the court clerk who supplied copies of documents, and his appointed counsel. Plaintiff also claims he was denied proper medical care during his pretrial detention in the Lorain County Jail, and seeks monetary damages against these same Defendants. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and the action is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).

I. Background

On August 5, 2011, Sears Department Store security personnel detained Plaintiff after he allegedly completed a store credit card application in the name of James Cogan using a "a fictional driver['s] license." (Doc. No. 1 at 5). The license contained Plaintiff's photograph, but listed Cogan's personal information, and a license number registered to a third party. After responding to Sears' call, Officers Pool and Sumpter arrested Plaintiff. (Doc. No. 1 at 5).

Plaintiff appeared before Elyria Municipal Court Judge Lisa Lockgraves on charges of forgery, taking the identity of another, obstruction of official business and theft. He was unable to post bond and remained in custody. Defendant Robert Gaffney represented him. Several days later, Judge Lockgraves conducted a preliminary hearing, determined there was probable cause for the charges, and bound the case over to the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Edward Zeleski was assigned to preside over the case.

On October 6, 2011, the Lorain County Grand Jury indicted Davis on felony charges of identity fraud and forgery. He was visited in jail by Gaffney after his arraignment and was asked to sign a number of documents, including a waiver of his right to speedy trial. Although Plaintiff refused to sign the speedy trial waiver, Gaffney placed his own signature on the form as Plaintiff's counsel, and left Plaintiff's signature block blank. The form was then submitted to the court. Gaffney later withdrew from the case and Judge Zeleski appointed Kenneth Ortner to represent Plaintiff.

Six months after his indictment, Plaintiff filed a pro se motion seeking dismissal of the case based on violation of his statutory speedy trial rights. At the hearing on Plaintiff's motion, Prosecutor Jennifer Riedthenur produced the waiver form and discovered Plaintiff had not signed it. Judge Zeleski denied the pro se motion on the ground that Plaintiff was represented by counsel; however, Ortner immediately filed a similar motion seeking dismissal of the case. Plaintiff alleges Riedthenur realized the deficiency in her case and offered him a series of plea bargains to obtain a conviction on a reduced charge. Plaintiff, however, refused the offers stating Riedthenur should dismiss the charges. The second speedy trial motion was heard on June 4, 2012. The attorneys and the judge spoke outside of Plaintiff's presence, and when Ortner returned, he informed Plaintiff that the case was dismissed.

Plaintiff alleges that his arrest and prosecutiondestroyed his marriage, his house was foreclosed, and all of his personal items were missing. He makes claims for malicious prosecution and for violations of other "clearly established state and federal rights." (Doc. No. 1 at 6).

In addition, Plaintiff alleges he did not receive proper medical care while in pretrial detention at the Lorain County Jail. He says he suffered from anxiety attacks for which he did not receive medication. He also claims he had pre-existing work-related injuries to his neck and back and was not provided with an extra mattress to minimize his discomfort. Plaintiff claims the Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of his "clearly established state and federal rights." (Doc. No. 1 at 26). The Court liberally construes this claim as arising under the Fourteenth Amendment.

II. Legal Standard

Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam), the district court is required to dismiss an in forma pauperis action under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e) if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989); Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d 1196 (6th Cir. 1990); Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996). A claim lacks an arguable basis in law or fact when it is premised on an indisputably meritless legal theory or when the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. A cause of action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it lacks "plausibility in the complaint." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 564 (2007). A pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). The factual allegations in the pleading must be sufficient to raise the right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the Complaint are true. Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 555. Plaintiff is not required to include detailed factual allegations, but must provide more than "an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A pleading that offers legal conclusions or a simple recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not meet this pleading standard. Id. In reviewing a Complaint, the Court must construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff. Bibbo v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 151 F.3d 559, 561 (6th Cir.1998).

III. ...

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