United States District Court, N.D. Ohio
Thomas J. Savoca, Plaintiff,
Scott Wilson, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER
R. ADAMS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
se plaintiff Thomas J. Savoca, a federal prisoner
incarcerated at USP Hazelton in West Virginia, has filed an
in forma pauperis civil complaint in this matter
against multiple defendants, alleging he seeks
“exculpatory evidence” in connection with his
criminal case. (Doc. No. 1 at 4). For the reasons stated
below, his complaint is dismissed.
2004, a jury in this district convicted Savoca of conspiracy
to commit bank robbery, armed bank robbery, and possession of
a firearm in connection with a crime of violence. On November
18, 2004, this Court sentenced Savoca to 927 months'
imprisonment or, alternatively, seventy years'
imprisonment in anticipation that federal sentencing
guidelines would become advisory. Savoca's conviction was
affirmed on appeal, and the Court of Appeals remanded the
case solely to allow the Court to enter its alternative
sentence. United States v. Savoca, No. 04-4435, 166
Fed.Appx. 183 (6th Cir. Jan. 18, 2006). Savoca was
also found guilty of multiple crimes in West Virginia.
filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence
in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. He raised
multiple grounds, including that the government fabricated a
videotape shown at trial depicting a gold van driving
erratically. This Court denied Savoca's § 2255
motion and found he offered no evidence to support his
allegation that the government's videotape was
fabricated. The Sixth Circuit denied him a certificate of
appealability, finding he had not made a substantial showing
of the denial of a federal constitutional right. Savoca
v. U.S., 567 F.3d 802, 803 (6th Cir. 2009).
Savoca also filed a § 2255 motion in connection with his
convictions in the Southern District of West Virginia, which
was denied. See Savoca v. U.S., No. 2: 06-00572,
2008 WL 2725092, at *2 (S.D.W.Va. July 11, 2008)
(“Movant's allegations of fraud and fabricat[ed
evidence] are utterly spurious and do not merit the
evidentiary hearing he seeks.”).
Savoca filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Sixth
Circuit, alleging the government withheld exculpatory
evidence in his criminal case in violation of Brady v.
Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). The Sixth Circuit
dismissed this petition as well, finding Savoca had
alternative means to raise a Brady argument, either
in his direct appeal or his § 2255 motion. (See
Doc. No. 1-3.)
only “statement of claim” Savoca makes in his
complaint in this case is that he is claiming
“exculpatory evidence” under the Freedom of
Information Act (“FOIA”). (Doc. No. 1 at 4.)
Savoca does not specifically describe in his complaint the
“evidence” he seeks. He merely indicates he seeks
evidence he previously sought, and was denied, in connection
with his criminal case via his petition for a writ of
mandamus. (See Id. at 4-5.) Nor does Savoca allege
in his complaint what steps he took to obtain information
under FOIA. He merely submits with his complaint a February
2014 letter from U.S. Department of Justice Administrative
Appeals Chief Sean R. O'Neill, affirming the Federal
Bureau of Investigation's denial of a request he made for
access to law enforcement records regarding a third party.
(See Doc. No. 1-2.) The letter on its face states
that any non-public records Savoca sought from the FBI were
categorically exempt from disclosure under 5 U.S.C. §
552(b)(7)(C), and that Savoca had not produced evidence
supporting a reasonable belief of government impropriety in
connection with records he sought.
addition to his complaint, Savoca has filed multiple motions
in this case, including motions to be “brought
forth” to Cleveland for hearing (Doc. Nos. 5, 11), a
“Motion in Support of Law Suite” (Doc. No. 6), a
“Motion for Summary Judgment, ” (Doc. No. 7), a
Motion to “Reconsider” a ruling of a Magistrate
(Doc. No. 8), and a Motion to Correct Record (Doc. No. 9).
the standard of review for pro se pleadings is
liberal, Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th
Cir. 2011), “the lenient treatment generally accorded
pro se litigants has limits.” Pilgrim v.
Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996). Pro
se plaintiffs must still meet basic pleading
requirements, and courts are not required to conjure
allegations on their behalf. See Erwin v. Edwards,
22 Fed.Appx. 579, 580 (6th Cir. 2001). Federal district
courts are required, under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B), to
screen all in forma pauperis complaints brought in
federal court, and to dismiss before service any such action
that the court determines is frivolous or malicious, fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. See Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71
(6th Cir. 2010). In order to state a claim, a complaint must
set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true,
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Id. at 471 (holding that the dismissal
standard articulated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544 (2007) governs dismissals for failure to state a
claim under §1915(e)(2)(B)). The plaintiff's
“[f]actual “allegations must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. In addition, it is a basic
pleading essential that a plaintiff attribute factual
allegations to particular defendants. See id., 550
U.S. at 545 (in order to state a claim, a plaintiff must make
sufficient allegations to give a defendant fair notice of his
claim and the grounds on which it rests).
according Savoca's complaint the deference to which a
pro se pleading is entitled, it fails to state any
plausible claim and must be dismissed pursuant to §
unclear and conclusory allegations do not reasonably suggest
he has any plausible claim for “evidence” under
FOIA or otherwise as against any defendant in the case.
See Lillard v. Shelby Cty. Bd. of Educ., 76 F.3d
716, 726 (6th Cir. 1996) (a court is not required to accept
summary allegations or unwarranted conclusions in determining
whether a complaint state a claim for relief). Further, FOIA
claims are only applicable as against “federal
agencies, ” and Savoca has not named any federal agency
as a defendant. Hale v. Schaefer, 201 F.3d 440, 1999
WL 1253094, at *1 (6th Cir.1999) ...