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Thomas v. Taco Bell Corporate Office

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

December 30, 2019

JERROLD G. THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
TACO BELL CORPORATE OFFICE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DAN AARON POLSTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the Complaint of pro se Plaintiff Jerrold Thomas against Defendants Taco Bell Corporate Office and Taco Bell Cantina. (Doc. # 1). Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his “civil rights” at the Taco Bell Cantina located at 200 Euclid Avenue where he was a patron. Plaintiff seeks to proceed with this action in forma pauperis, and that motion is granted (Doc. # 2).

         For the reasons that follow, this case is dismissed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that around 8:40 a.m. on March 9, 2019, he was a patron at the Taco Bell Cantina located at 200 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. On that day, Plaintiff was involved in a dispute with the general manager, Faith Phelps. Plaintiff alleges that he was complaining about bad service and improperly prepared food, and Phelps falsely claimed that he said he was going to shoot her. As a result of this dispute, Plaintiff claims he went to jail for aggravated menacing and criminal trespassing. According to Plaintiff he is homeless, and Phelps is “far out of line when handling customers such as myself.”

         Plaintiff contacted Taco Bell's corporate office to seek a resolution, but his telephone calls were not returned. Plaintiff claims that this incident impacted his employment and housing opportunities, but he has not yet determined the amount of damages he is seeking from Defendants. (Doc. # 1).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed and held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), the district 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. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996).

         While Plaintiff's Complaint is entitled to liberal construction, the Court is not required to conjure unpleaded facts or construct claims on Plaintiff's behalf. See Grinter v. Knight, 532 F.3d 567, 577 (6th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted); Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1277-78 (4th Cir. 1985). Moreover, “[i]f the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff does not specify the legal basis for his Complaint or the Court's subject matter jurisdiction. He only claims that his “civil rights” have been violated. (Doc. # 1).

         A. Plaintiff fails to state a plausible § 1983 claim

         To the extent that Plaintiff is attempting to assert a § 1983 claim, that claim fails. In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff must allege that a person acting under color of state law deprived him of his rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or the laws of the United States. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). Section 1983 applies only to the State or to persons acting under color of state law. A private party may act under color of state law when the private party's actions “can fairly be seen as state action.” Rendell-Baker v. Kohn, 457 U.S. 830, 838 (1982).

         Even assuming the truth of Plaintiff's claims, there are no allegations in the Complaint that Defendants exercised any powers which are traditionally exclusively reserved to the State. Accordingly, Plaintiff fails to state a § 1983 claim upon which relief ...


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