United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BRIAN K. EPPS, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis ("IFP") in the above-captioned case. Because he is proceeding IFP, Plaintiff's complaint must be screened to protect potential defendants. Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d 782, 785 (11th Cir. 1984). As explained below, Plaintiff has been given an opportunity to amend his complaint, and it is the amended complaint that is now before the Court for screening.
I. SCREENING OF THE AMENDED COMPLAINT
Plaintiff names the following Defendants: (1) City of Wadley, Georgia; (2) Harold Moore, Mayor of Wadley; (3) FNU Lewis, Chief of Wadley Police Bureau; and (4) Anande Gaiter, Officer #332. (Doc. no. 10, pp. 1, 2.) Taking all of Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.
On October 20, 2013, Plaintiff and a companion were stopped at the corner of North Main and Cheatham Street in Wadley, Georgia, trying to decide which way to go. (Id. at 4.) "The officer, " presumably Defendant Gaiter, effectuated a traffic stop, and asked Plaintiff for his insurance and driver's license. (Id.) Plaintiff did not have any identification, and thus by implication no driver's license, but he stated his name and address to Defendant Gaiter. (Id.) After checking the information provided by Plaintiff, Defendant Gaiter arrested Plaintiff for driving while license suspended. (Id.) Law enforcement officers, presumably to include Officer Gaiter, detained and searched Plaintiff as part of the arrest procedure. (Id. at 5.) Officer Gaiter issued Plaintiff a total of three citations, one for driving while license suspended, one for failing to stop at a stop sign, and one for giving false information to a police officer. (Id. at 2-3.)
After booking Plaintiff, Defendant Gaiter gave Plaintiff an appearance date of November 25, 2013, and threatened Plaintiff that she would make sure Plaintiff stayed in custody until that court date. (Id.) However, Plaintiff posted an $800.00 bond and was released. (Id. at 2-3.) Without providing any details, Plaintiff maintains that while in custody, his due process and Miranda rights were violated. (Id. at 3.)
When Plaintiff appeared for court on November 25, 2013, his case was continued until February 24, 2014. (Id. at 3.) When Plaintiff appeared on February 24th, Defendant Gaiter, the state's "star witness, " failed to appear, and all three of Plaintiff's charges were dismissed. (Id.) Despite the dismissals, the City of Wadley refuses to "clear plaintiff['s] name in the city and state wide registry." (Id.) Thus, restrictions remain on Plaintiff's driving privileges, which causes him to pay higher insurance costs than he would otherwise have to pay without the restrictions. (Id.) Although he does not identify any person that he has spoken with, when Plaintiff called the City of Wadley to try to resolve the matter, "the staff" stated that he was harassing them, as well as Defendant Lewis, and started hanging up when Plaintiff called. (Id.) Plaintiff does not identify his race, but states that by hanging up on him, the unidentified "staff" are engaging in racial profiling. (Id.)
Plaintiff asserts that his false arrest in Wadley "makes the City of Wadley, Mayor Harold Moore, and the City of Wadley police bureau chief Lewis, and officer ana[n]de gaiter #332 and its officers personally liable due to their lack of training and negligence in not following their duty." (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from each Defendant to compensate him for violations of his due process and equal protection rights, as well as for the anguish and humiliation caused by his arrest. (Id.) Plaintiff also requests an order that his bond money be returned to him. (Id. at 5.)
1. Legal Standard for Screening.
The amended complaint or any portion thereof may be dismissed if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A claim is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). "Failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard as dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)." Wilkerson v. H & S, Inc., 366 F.App'x 49, 51 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997)).
To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the allegations in the amended complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). That is, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The amended complaint is insufficient if it "offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, '" or if it "tenders naked assertions' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Id . (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). In short, the amended complaint must provide a "plain statement' possess[ing] enough heft to sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
Finally, the court affords a liberal construction to a pro se litigant's pleadings, holding them to a more lenient standard than those drafted by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, this liberal construction does not mean that the court has a duty to ...