United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
JAMES D. ALLEN, Plaintiff,
CORECIVIC, INC., et al., Defendants.
Elizabeth Preston Deavers Magistrate Judge
OPINION & ORDER
D. MORRISON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court for consideration of an Initial
Screen Report and Recommendation (hereafter
“R&R”) issued by the Magistrate Judge on
February 25, 2019 (ECF No. 5), and Plaintiff's Objection
thereto (ECF No. 6). In the R&R, the Magistrate Judge
recommended that the Court dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint.
For the reasons that follow, the Court
OVERRULES Plaintiff's objection,
ADOPTS and AFFIRMS the
R&R, and DISMISSES Plaintiff's
February 14, 2018, while incarcerated at Lake Erie
Correctional Institution, Plaintiff James Allen was placed
into segregation for threatening another inmate. (Compl., p.
5, ECF No. 3). Defendant CoreCivic, Inc. runs and manages the
Lake Erie facility. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that
upon his removal to segregation, correctional staff
confiscated some of Plaintiff's property as contraband.
(Id.). According to Plaintiff, although he was
notified of the confiscation, he was not given the
opportunity to appropriately resolve it. (Id.).
Thereafter, Plaintiff was transferred to Noble Correctional
Institution but alleges he was still not returned his
25, 2018, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit in state court against
the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
(“ODRC”) in an attempt to retrieve his property.
(Id. at 7). The Ohio Court of Claims dismissed
Plaintiff's complaint on August 28, 2018, holding that
since CoreCivic ran the prison, ODRC could not be held liable
for CoreCivic's alleged constitutional rights violations.
(Id. at 11). On February 15, 2019, Plaintiff,
proceeding pro se, filed a complaint in this Court
requesting $4, 500 in damages for CoreCivic's alleged
unlawful confiscation of his property in violation of 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (Id. at 6; Civil Cover Sheet,
ECF No. 1-2). On the same day, Plaintiff was granted leave to
proceed in forma pauperis in this action. (ECF No.
February 25, 2019, the Magistrate Judge performed an initial
screen of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2), 1915A, and recommended that the Court dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint in its entirety for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (ECF No. 5).
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), the Magistrate Judge
also recommended that the Court certify that an appeal of any
Order adopting the R&R would not be taken in good faith.
(Id.). Plaintiff filed an Objection on March 18,
2019. (ECF No. 6). The Court proceeds to consider
party objects within the allotted time to a report and
recommendation, the Court “shall make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is
made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).
Upon review, the Court “may accept, reject, or modify,
in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by
the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Objection, Plaintiff first suggests that the Magistrate Judge
recommended dismissal of his action based on Plaintiff
identifying the wrong “basis of jurisdiction” for
his lawsuit on the Civil Cover Sheet. (ECF Nos. 1-2, 6).
However, whether a federal court can hear a case based on one
type of jurisdiction or another has no effect on the outcome
of a case. A court settles the question of jurisdiction
before evaluating the merits of a claim. See Va. H.D. v.
Bethune-Hill, 139 S.Ct. 1945, 1950 (2019) (“To
reach the merits of a case, an Article III court must have
jurisdiction.”). Here, Plaintiff's only cause of
action is a claim for deprivation of property without due
process under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because this cause of
action is created by federal law, it invokes federal question
jurisdiction. Grable v. Sons Metal Products, Inc. v.
Darue Engineering & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 312 (2005).
On the other hand, because Plaintiff seeks only $4, 500 in
damages, the lawsuit clearly lacks diversity jurisdiction.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (“The district
courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions
where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value
of $75, 000 . . . .”) (emphasis added)).
Therefore, contrary to his assertion, Plaintiff selected the
correct “basis of jurisdiction” on his Civil
Cover Sheet; his selection had no bearing on the Magistrate
Judge's ultimate determination as to the sufficiency of
his cause of action.
Court also disagrees with Plaintiff's argument that the
R&R “overlooked the substance that was presented in
the complaint.” (ECF No. 6). The Magistrate Judge did
not ignore the substance of the Complaint; she explained why
the Complaint did not provide sufficient factual allegations
to state a plausible cause of action arising under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. (6, ECF No. 5). Plaintiff failed to identify a
CoreCivic policy or custom that was a “moving
force” behind his alleged injuries. See City of
Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 389 (1989) (holding that
a Defendant's policies must be the moving force behind
the alleged constitutional violation for there to be
liability under § 1983); Polk County v. Dodson,
454 U.S. 312, 326 (1981) (explaining that an “official
policy must be the moving force of the constitutional
violation in order to establish the liability of a government
body under § 1983” (internal quotations omitted));
Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs. of the City of New
York, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978) (holding that city was
liable under § 1983 when official policy was the moving
force of the constitutional violation). Plaintiff also failed
to allege any specific wrongful conduct committed by the John
and Jane Doe defendants identified only as unnamed
“Various Employees at Lake Erie Correctional
Institution.” (1, ECF No. 3); see Greene v.
Barber, 310 F.3d 889, 899 (6th Cir. 2002) (explaining
that to establish liability under Section 1983, a plaintiff
must plead and prove that the defendant was personally
involved in the conduct that forms the basis of the
complaint); Shehee v. Luttrell, 199 F.3d 295, 300
(6th Cir. 1999) (same).
Plaintiff's Objection is not well taken. The Court finds
no reason to modify or reject the R&R.
foregoing reasons, the Court OVERRULES
Plaintiff's Objection (ECF No. 6),
ADOPTS and AFFIRMS the
R&R (ECF No. 5), and DISMISSES WITHOUT
PREJUDICE Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 3). For
the reasons set forth above and in the R&R, the Court
hereby CERTIFIES pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a)(3) that any appeal of this Opinion & Order
is not taken in good faith. The Clerk is
DIRECTED to TERMINATE this