United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. Litkovitz, Magistrate Judged United States District Court.
Buddy Struckman, a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, has filed an
amended complaint against the Village of Lockland, Patrolman
Drew Jones, and Sergeant Patrick Sublet alleging a violation
of his rights. (Doc. 9). This matter is before the Court for
a sua sponte review of plaintiff s amended complaint to
determine whether the amended complaint, or any portion of
it, should be dismissed because it is frivolous, 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
enacting the original in forma pauperis statute,
Congress recognized that a "litigant whose filing fees
and court costs are assumed by the public, unlike a paying
litigant, lacks an economic incentive to refrain from filing
frivolous, malicious, or repetitive lawsuits."
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992) (quoting
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989)). To
prevent such abusive litigation, Congress has authorized
federal courts to dismiss an in forma pauperis
complaint if they are satisfied that the action is frivolous
or malicious. Id.; see also 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). A complaint may be dismissed
as frivolous when the plaintiff cannot make any claim with a
rational or arguable basis in fact or law. Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328-29 (1989); see also
Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d 1196, 1198 (6th Cir. 1990).
An action has no arguable legal basis when the defendant is
immune from suit or when plaintiff claims a violation of a
legal interest which clearly does not exist.
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. An action has no arguable
factual basis when the allegations are delusional or rise to
the level of the irrational or "wholly
incredible.” Denton, 504 U.S. at 32;
Lawler, 898 F.2d at 1199. The Court need not accept
as true factual allegations that are "fantastic or
delusional" in reviewing a complaint for frivolousness.
Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 471 (6th Cir. 2010)
(quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 328).
also has authorized the sua sponte dismissal of
complaints that fail to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 (e)(2)(B)(ii). A
complaint filed by a pro se plaintiff must be
"liberally construed" and "held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers." Ehckson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (per curiam) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429
U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). By the same token, however, the
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 Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also
Hill, 630 F.3d at 470-71 ("dismissal standard
articulated in Iqbal and Twombly governs
dismissals for failure to state a claim" under
§§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)).
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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The Court must accept all
well-pleaded factual allegations as true, but need not
"accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting
Papasan v. Attain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).
Although a complaint need not contain "detailed factual
allegations, " it must provide "more than an
accusation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A pleading that offers
"labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Nor does a
complaint suffice if it tenders "naked
assertion[s]" devoid of "further factual
enhancement." Id. at 557. The complaint must
"give the defendant fair notice of what the . .. claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests."
Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (citations omitted).
pro se amended complaint alleges that on April 20, 2015, he
was arrested and charged with inducing panic and aggravated
menacing. He alleges that following trial, the charges
against him were dismissed. He alleges that defendant Jones
falsified information against plaintiff and that defendant
Sublet, who was Jones' supervisor, approved the
falsification of information. Plaintiff alleges that both
Jones and Sublet attempted to cover up the false charges
against him. He alleges claims of unlawful arrest, false
imprisonment, and due process violations. As relief plaintiff
seeks $600, 000 in damages. (Doc. 9).
stage in the proceedings, without the benefit of briefing by
the parties to this action, the undersigned concludes that
plaintiff may proceed with his amended complaint against
defendants Jones and Sublet. See 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A(b).
plaintiffs amended complaint against the Village of Lockland
should be dismissed for failure to state a claim for relief.
Municipalities cannot be held vicariously liable under §
1983 based on the theory of respondeat superior for
injuries inflicted solely by their employees or agents.
See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676; Monell v. New York
City Dep't of Soc. Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-92
(1978); Gregory v. Shelby Cnty, Tennessee, 220 F.3d
433, 441 (6th Cir. 2000); see also Davis, supra,
2009 WL 414269, at *2 ("A plaintiff may not rely on the
doctrine of respondeat superior to find a government
entity liable under § 1983 when the claim is founded
solely on an allegation that its agent caused the
injury."). To state a claim for relief under § 1983
against a municipality, the plaintiff must allege that his
"injuries were the result of an unconstitutional policy
or custom" of the municipality. Matthews v.
Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994); see also
Monell, 436 U.S. at 694; Doe v. Claiborne
Cnty., 103 F.3d 495, 507 (6th Cir. 1996). Cf. Polk
County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312 (1981) (municipal policy
must be "moving force" behind constitutional
deprivation). Municipalities and other governmental entities
cannot be held responsible for a constitutional deprivation
unless there is a direct causal link between a policy or
custom and the alleged deprivation. Monell, 436 U.S.
at 691; Beaton v. Montgomery Cnty, Ohio, 989 F.2d
885, 889 (6th Cir. 1993).
case, plaintiff has alleged no facts indicating that the
Village of Lockland violated his constitutional rights
pursuant to a policy or custom of the Village. In the absence
of such allegations, plaintiff has failed to state an
actionable claim for relief based on the theory of municipal
liability. See Monell 436 U.S. at 693-94.
IS THEREFORE RECOMMENDED THAT:
amended complaint be DISMISSED with
prejudice against the Village of Lockland.
THEREFORE ORDERED THAT:
1. The United States Marshal shall serve a copy of the
amended complaint, summons, and this Order and Report and
Recommendation upon defendants Jones and Sublet as directed
by plaintiff, with costs of ...