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Mayer v. Emporia Police Department

United States District Court, D. Kansas

October 30, 2018

TRAVIS WILLIAM MAYER, Plaintiff,
v.
EMPORIA POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          Sam A. Crow U.S. Senior District Judge

         Plaintiff Travis William Mayer is hereby required to show good cause, in writing, to the Honorable Sam A. Crow, United States District Judge, why this action should not be dismissed due to the deficiencies in Plaintiff's Complaint that are discussed herein.

         I. Nature of the Matter before the Court

         Plaintiff brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court grants Plaintiff's motions for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2, 6). The Court assesses an initial partial filing fee of $107.00, calculated under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Plaintiff is granted fourteen (14) days from receipt of this Memorandum and Order and Order to Show Cause (“MOSC”) to submit the fee. Any objection to the initial partial fee must be filed on or before the date payment is due. The failure to pay the fee as directed may result in the dismissal of this matter without further notice. Plaintiff remains obligated to pay the remainder of the $350.00 filing fee. The agency having custody of Plaintiff shall forward payments from Plaintiff's account in installments calculated under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The clerk is to transmit a copy of this MOSC to Plaintiff, to the finance office at the institution where Plaintiff is currently confined, and to the Court's finance office.

         Plaintiff's allegations involve his state criminal proceedings. Plaintiff alleges that his state criminal proceedings included perjured testimony, and that police department staff withheld exculpatory evidence in obtaining a conviction. Plaintiff names the Emporia Police Department, the Chief of Police, Sergeant, Captain and six officers as defendants. Plaintiff seeks “[t]o hold Emporia Police Department and their officers to their higher standard of duty, and investigate police misconduct, ” and “$3, 000, 000 for their illegal and unconstitutional acts.” (Doc. 1, at 6.)

         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. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff's request for monetary damages may be barred by Heck. In Heck v. Humphrey, the United States Supreme Court held that when a state prisoner seeks damages in a § 1983 action, the district court must consider the following:

whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the ...

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