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Wright v. Cleveland Police Department

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

January 10, 2020

SAMUEL WRIGHT, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
CLEVELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al. Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pro se Plaintiff Samuel Wright, Jr. brings this claim against the Cleveland Police Department, Cleveland Police Office Sean Gorman and the City of Cleveland. (ECF DKT #1). In his brief Complaint, Plaintiff states that on June 7, 2017, he was walking on Euclid Avenue and Defendant Gorman pushed him from behind. Plaintiff asked Gorman why he was pushed and Gorman responded that Plaintiff was to keep moving. A verbal exchange occurred and Plaintiff alleges that Gorman choked him and issued a false citation. (Id.). Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Cleveland Police Department but Gorman retired or departed from the Department before Plaintiff's complaint could be investigated. (See ECF DKT #1-2).

         Plaintiff filed a motion to proceed with this action in forma pauperis (ECF DKT #2), and that motion is granted.

         For the reasons that follow, this action is dismissed.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982), federal district courts are expressly required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen all in forma pauperis actions and to dismiss before service any such action that 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. The standard for dismissal articulated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) with respect to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) also governs dismissal under § 1915(e)(2)(B). Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). In order to survive scrutiny under § 1915(e)(2)(B), a pro se complaint must set forth sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a plausible claim for relief. Anson v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 529 Fed.Appx. 558, 559 (6th Cir. 2013) (“Section 1915(e)(2)(B) authorizes dismissal if the action fails to state a plausible claim for relief or is frivolous.”).

         Pleadings and documents filed by pro se litigants are held to a less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). That said, pro se plaintiffs must still satisfy basic pleading requirements and the Court is not required to conjure allegations on their behalf. See Erwin v. Edwards, 22 Fed.Appx. 579, 580 (6th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). A pleading must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and must provide more than “an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A pleading that offers nothing more than legal conclusions or a simple recitation of the elements of a cause of action does not satisfy the pleading standard. Id.

         II. DISCUSSION

         “To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must set forth facts that, when construed favorably, establish (1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States (2) caused by a person acting under the color of state law.” Sigley v. City of Parma Heights, 437 F.3d 527, 533 (6th Cir. 2006) (citing West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988)).

         A. Defendant Cleveland Police Department is Dismissed

         Defendant Cleveland Police Department is not a legal entity capable of being sued. Johnson v. Elyria Police Dep't, No. 1:06 CV 1912, 2006 WL 3420188, at *1 (N.D. Ohio Nov. 27, 2006) (Police Departments are not sui juris and therefore cannot sue or be sued.) (citations omitted). Accordingly, Plaintiff fails to state a plausible § 1983 claim against the Cleveland Police Department and the Department is dismissed from this action pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         B. Defendant City of Cleveland is Dismissed

         With respect to defendant City of Cleveland, 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 may, 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).

         To state a claim for relief against a municipality under § 1983, Plaintiff must: (1) identify the municipal policy or custom, (2) connect the policy to the municipality, and (3) show that his particular injury was incurred due to execution of that policy. Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 815 (6th Cir. 2003). Here, there are no allegations in that Complaint that identify a custom or policy of the City of Cleveland that caused him injury. Rather, Plaintiff's allegations center entirely on the actions of defendant Gorman. This is ...


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