United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
Darnell A. Smith-Utley, Plaintiff
City of Toledo, et al., Defendants
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Jeffrey J. Helmick United States District Judge.
se Plaintiff Darnell A. Smith-Utley filed this action
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Toledo,
Toledo Police Chief George Kral, Toledo Police Officers John
Does #1 and #2, the United States Attorney General and the
United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. In
his Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that the Defendants denied
him substantive due process and interfered with familial
relations when the officers arrested him on an outstanding
warrant at a traffic stop. He does not specify the relief he
also filed an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc.
No. 2). That Application is granted.
alleges he was stopped by Toledo police officers as he was
heading home from work on November 24, 2015. The officers
indicated he failed to stop at a stop sign. Plaintiff states
he did not have his driver's license with him at the
time, so the officers placed him in the back of the police
car. He provided officers with his name and social security
number. When the officers entered that information into the
computer, they discovered Plaintiff had two outstanding
warrants from the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas. In
fact, Plaintiff had been indicted on charges of burglary and
receiving stolen property on July 16, 2015, and on two counts
of receiving stolen property on September 18, 2015. Plaintiff
failed to appear in court for both of his arraignments and
both trial judges issued a capias for his arrest. Plaintiff
attempted to convince the officers of his innocence, but they
arrested him on the outstanding warrants. He claims he asked
the officers if he could summon his girlfriend to take
possession of his car. Plaintiff indicates that there was
some confusion about the ownership of the car. He states he
purchased it from his mother but could not get license plates
for the car because his mother was incarcerated, so he used
plates from another vehicle. The officers told him it would
have to be towed.
Causes of Action
Plaintiff's Complaint lists two causes of action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, both are asserted denials of substantive
due process. First, he asserts the City of Toledo, Police
Chief Kral and the John Doe Officers violated his right to
substantive due process by interfering with his right to
travel. Second, he contends all of the Defendants interfered
with his familial relations with his child. He states he
accrued a large amount of child support and his child's
mother will not allow him to see his child unless he pays
support. Plaintiff alleges his arrest caused him to lose his
job, making it more difficult for him to pay child support.
I must construe pro se pleadings liberally, Boag
v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam);
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), I am
required to dismiss an in forma pauperis action
under 28 U.S.C. Â§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.
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 Aplausibility in the
Complaint.@ Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 564 (2007).
pleading must contain a Ashort 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. The
Plaintiff is not required to include detailed factual
allegations, but must provide more than Aan unadorned,
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, I 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.
they are named as Defendants, the Toledo Police Chief, the
United States Attorney General, and the United States
Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio have no apparent
connection to the facts of this case. Plaintiff cannot
establish the liability of any Defendant absent a clear
showing that the Defendant was personally involved in the
activities which form the basis of the alleged
unconstitutional behavior. Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S.
362, 371 (1976); Mullins v. Hainesworth, No.
95-3186, 1995 WL 559381 (6th Cir. Sept. 20, 1995). These
three Defendants are not mentioned in the body of the
Complaint and Plaintiff gives no indication of why they are
included in this lawsuit. He fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted against Police Chief Kral, the
Attorney General, or the United States Attorney for the
Northern District of Ohio.
the City of Toledo cannot be held liable unless its own
conduct in some way violated Plaintiff's constitutional
rights. As a rule, local governments may not be sued under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 for an injury inflicted solely by
employees or agents under a respondeat superior
theory of liability. See Monell v. Department of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978). “Instead, it is
when execution of a government's policy or custom,
whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or
acts may fairly be said to represent official policy,
inflicts the injury that the government as an entity is
responsible under §1983.” Id. at 694. A
municipality can therefore be held liable when it
unconstitutionally “implements or executes a policy
statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially
adopted by that body's officers.” Id. at
690; DePiero v. City of Macedonia, 180 F.3d 770, 786
(6th Cir. 1999). Plaintiff must identify the municipal policy
or custom in question, connect the policy to the
municipality, and show that his particular ...