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Ramsey v. Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department

United States District Court, D. Kansas

July 9, 2019

FEDERICO RAMSEY, Plaintiff,
v.
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS, POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendant.

          NOTICE AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          SAM A. CROW, U.S. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is a civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff, a prisoner in federal custody, proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis.

         Nature of the Complaint

         Plaintiff sues the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department alleging that he was “wrongfully accused, illegally detained, wrongfully convicted, illegally sentenced and imprisoned through the malicious and sadistic prosecutorial use of fraudulent and false identity created by the and through the defendant….” (Doc. 1, p. 6). He seeks monetary damages.

         Screening

         A federal court must conduct a preliminary review of any case in which a prisoner seeks relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of such an entity. See 28 U.S.C. §1915A(a). Following this review, the court must dismiss any portion of the complaint that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages from a defendant who is immune from that relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         In screening, a court liberally construes pleadings filed by a party proceeding pro se and applies “less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

         To state a claim for relief under Section 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, 48-49 (1988)(citations omitted).

         To avoid a dismissal for failure to state a claim, a complaint must set out factual allegations that “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The court accepts the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. However, “when the allegations in a complaint, however, true, could not raise a [plausible] claim of entitlement to relief, ” the matter should be dismissed. Id. at 558. A court need not accept “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action supported by mere conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Rather, “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 Tenth Circuit has observed that the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions in Twombly and Erickson set out a new standard of review for dismissals under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) dismissals. See Key v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1218 (10th Cir. 2007)(citations omitted). Following those decisions, 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 (quotation marks and internal citations omitted). A plaintiff “must nudge his claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009). In this context, “plausible” 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 [the] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (citing Twombly at 1974).

         Discussion

         After examining the complaint under these standards, the Court finds that the complaint is subject to summary dismissal, without prejudice to refiling, under the holding of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).

         First, the sole defendant named in this matter is the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department. However, a police department is not a suable entity under § 1983, because it has no legal identity apart from the city. See, e.g., Ketchum v. Albuquerque Police Dep't., 958 F.2d 381, 1992 WL 51481, at *2 (10th Cir. Mar. 12, 1992); Martinez v. Winner, 771 F.2d 424, 444 (10th Cir. 1985)(holding that the City of Denver Police Department is not a suable entity). To proceed under § 1983, plaintiff must identify individual defendants.

         Next, under Heck v. Humphrey, when a prisoner's claims in a civil rights action would impugn the validity of the plaintiff's underlying conviction, the action cannot maintained unless the conviction has ...


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