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Glenn v. Gardner

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio

June 4, 2019

CHRISTOPHER D. GLENN, Plaintiff,
v.
DETECTIVE SCOTT GARDNER, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER [RESOLVING DOC. 1, 2, 4]

          JAMES S. GWIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pro se Plaintiff Christopher Glenn sues Detective Scott Gardner, Sergeant Holbrook, Plain Dealer reporter Evan McDonald, and Fox 8 News reporter Wayne Dawson.[1] Plaintiff makes claims under (1) 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, 1986, [2] (2) 18 U.S.C. § 241, and (3) various state laws. Plaintiff's claims relate to events associated with a house explosion in East Cleveland.[3]

         Plaintiff moves this Court for leave to proceed with this case in forma pauperis, which is granted.[4] For the reasons stated below, this action is dismissed.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff alleges that on June 10, 2018 the East Cleveland Police Department made him a “person of interest” regarding a house explosion on East 125th Street in East Cleveland, Ohio. He claims that the East Cleveland Detective Bureau, A.T.F., and the U.S. Fire Marshal “interviewed me and dropped all felony charges.”[5]

         Plaintiff alleges that he has “been judged every day” at the Cuyahoga County Jail for a house explosion he had no involvement with and this “exploding incident was brought up at my violation hearing and used against me to the point that I am doing time in the county … as opposed to receiving more probation time.”[6]

         In addition, Plaintiff claims that his character has been destroyed and that he has been ostracized “because of the East Cleveland Police going public and fraudulently making up this story for The Plain Dealer, Fox 8 News, and other channels to display me in a negative light.”[7]

         Plaintiff alleges that he has suffered threats from other detainees and officers, shame, mental anguish, and severe depression.[8] He asks this Court to “make me whole” and grant relief for the “libel, slander, mental anguish, character assassination and extra time attributed to my sentence” for a crime he did not commit.[9]

         Plaintiff states that he filed a grievance at the Cuyahoga County Jail claiming entrapment, character assassination, defamation, libel, slander, and unlawful restraint, but has not received a response.[10]

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, [11] the 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.[12] A claim lacks an arguable basis in law or fact when it is premised upon an indisputably meritless legal theory or when the factual contentions are clearly baseless.[13]

         The dismissal standard for Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) articulated in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, [14] and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, [15] governs dismissal for failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).[16] A cause of action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it lacks plausibility in the complaint.[17] Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) governs basic federal pleading requirements, and requires that the pleading contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.[18] In reviewing a complaint, the Court must construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the pro se plaintiff.[19]

         B. Plaintiff's § 1983 Claims are Dismissed

         To state a plausible § 1983 claim, Plaintiff must allege that: (1) a person acting under color of state law (2) deprived him of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.[20]

         Plaintiff fails to state a plausible § 1983 claim against McDonald and Dawson

         Plaintiff alleges that defendants McDonald and Dawson are reporters for the Plain Dealer and Fox 8 News. The Sixth Circuit uses three tests to determine whether a private individual is a state actor under § 1983: (1) the public function test, (2) the state compulsion test, and (3) the nexus test.[21] There are no allegations in the Complaint that the McDonald and Dawson house explosion reporting satisfies any of these tests. Indeed, “[m]any courts have found that media companies and their employees are not ‘state actors.'”[22] Because McDonald and Dawson are not state actors, Plaintiff fails to state a plausible § 1983 claim against them and those claims are dismissed pursuant to § 1915(e).

         Plaintiff fails to state a plausible § 1983 claim against Gardner and Holbrook

         Plaintiff lists Gardner and Holbrook as defendants in the caption of the Complaint and alleges in that pleading that his Constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments were violated. But Plaintiff does not allege any specific conduct on the part of either Gardner or Holbrook that arguably violated his ...


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