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Chapman v. Montgomery County Sheriff's Office

United States District Court, D. Kansas

May 25, 2018

BRICE D. CHAPMAN, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER AND ORDER TO SHOW

          SAM A. CROW U.S. Senior District Judge

         Plaintiff Brice D. Chapman, Sr., an inmate at the Montgomery County Jail in Independence, Kansas, brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He proceeds in forma pauperis. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff is ordered to show cause why his complaint should not be dismissed.

         I. Nature of the Matter before the Court

         Mr. Chapman's complaint (Doc. 1) alleges his constitutional rights were violated when he was strapped into a restraint chair for hours for no reason upon being booked into the jail. The complaint further alleges he is being held without indictment and without evidence being sent to be tested at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation's (KBI) crime lab on an excessive and unreasonable bond. Plaintiff names as defendants the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office; the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office; Larry Markle, Montgomery County District of Attorney; the Montgomery County Jail; the officers who arrested him; Officer Hankins; and Officer Louis.

         In Count I of his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that upon being booked into the Montgomery County Jail, Officers Hankins and Louis strapped him into a restraint chair and left him there for hours. He claims he did nothing to warrant being restrained, and the officers failed to follow protocol.

         In Count II, Plaintiff claims he was held on a felony charge without an indictment or just cause. He complains that certain evidence has not been sent to the KBI crime lab for testing. He also complains that his bond is excessive due to his prior criminal history of which the judge has personal knowledge because he was formerly the district attorney who prosecuted Plaintiff on the prior charges.

         Plaintiff alleges Defendants have violated his rights under the Eighth, First, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments. He seeks to have the criminal charges against him dismissed and to receive financial compensation for his mental anguish.

         II. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)- (2).

         “To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988) (citations omitted); Northington v. Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1523 (10th Cir. 1992). A court liberally construes a pro se complaint and applies “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In addition, the court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true. Anderson v. Blake, 469 F.3d 910, 913 (10th Cir. 2006). On the other hand, “when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, ” dismissal is appropriate. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007).

         A pro se litigant's “conclusory allegations without supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitlement to relief' requires “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). The complaint's “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 555, 570.

         The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has explained “that, to state a claim in federal court, a complaint must explain what each defendant did to [the pro se plaintiff]; when the defendant did it; how the defendant's action harmed [the plaintiff]; and, what specific legal right the plaintiff believes the defendant violated.” Nasious v. Two Unknown B.I.C.E. Agents, 492 F.3d 1158, 1163 (10th Cir. 2007). The court “will not supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff's behalf.” Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted).

         The Tenth Circuit has pointed out that the Supreme Court's decisions in Twombly and Erickson gave rise to a new standard of review for § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) dismissals. See Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1218 (10th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted); see also Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009). As a result, courts “look to the specific allegations in the complaint to determine whether they plausibly support a legal claim for relief.” Kay, 500 F.3d at 1218 (citation omitted). Under this new standard, “a plaintiff must ‘nudge his claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.'” Smith, 561 F.3d at 1098 (citation omitted). “Plausible” in this context does not mean “likely to be true, ” but rather refers “to the scope of the allegations in a complaint: if they are so general that they encompass a wide swath of conduct, much of it innocent, ” then the plaintiff has not “nudged [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (citing Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1974).

         III. ...


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