United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
VICTOR L. CONEY, Plaintiff,
LAURENS COUNTY SHERIFF DEPARTMENT; DANIEL LAMPP, Deputy Sheriff; STEVEN CADY, Deputy Sheriff; SHERRY MANGUM, Deputy Sheriff; WILSON BUSH, Deputy Sheriff; and DEIDRE BYRD, Investigator, Defendants.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
K. EPPS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
currently incarcerated at Georgia Diagnostic &
Classification State Prison in Jackson, Georgia, commenced
the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
regarding events alleged to have occurred in Laurens County,
Georgia. Because he is proceeding IFP, Plaintiff's
amended complaint must be screened to protect potential
defendants. Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d 782, 785
(11th Cir. 1984); Al-Amin v. Donald, 165 F.
App'x 733, 736 (11th Cir. 2006).
SCREENING OF THE AMENDED COMPLAINT
names as Defendants (1) Laurens County Sheriff Department;
(2) Daniel Lampp; (3) Wilson Bush; (4) Deidre Byrd; (5)
Steven Cady; and (6) Sherry Mangum. (Doc. No. 7, pp. 2-5.)
Taking all of Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, as
the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the
facts are as follows.
October 29, 2015 at approximately 3:30 p.m., Plaintiff was a
passenger in Christopher Smith's vehicle, which Laurens
County Sheriff deputies stopped on S. Washington St. in front
of RAWL's. (Id. at 7-8.) During the stop, Smith
admitted to smoking marijuana and consented to a search of
his vehicle. (Id. at 8.) Defendant Lampp searched
the vehicle and found “alleged contraband” in the
console. (Id.) Despite Smith admitting to Defendant
Byrd the contraband was his, Defendant Lampp arrested
Plaintiff because he was seated closest to the console.
(Id.) After arresting Plaintiff, Defendants Lampp,
Byrd, and Cady took Plaintiff to his residence on S.
Jefferson St., where they met Defendants Mangum and Bush.
(Id.) Defendants conducted a warrantless search of
Plaintiff's residence. (Id.)
Legal Standard for Screening
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) and 1915A(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)).
avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, the allegations in the 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
accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A
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 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.
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
re-write the complaint. Snow v. DirecTV, Inc., 450
F.3d 1314, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006).
Plaintiff Fails to State a Claim Against Laurens County
allegations are insufficient to state a claim against Laurens
County Sheriff Department, which is not subject to liability
in a § 1983 suit. According to Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(b)(3),
the general rule is the “capacity to sue or be sued is
determined . . . by the law of the state where the court is
located . . . .” Accordingly, in this case, Georgia law
controls. The Georgia Supreme Court has explained:
“[I]n every suit there must be a legal entity as the
real plaintiff and the real defendant. This state recognizes
only three classes as legal entities, namely: (1) natural
persons; (2) an artificial person (a corporation); and (3)
such quasi-artificial persons as the law recognizes as being
capable to sue.” Georgia Insurers Insolvency Pool
v. Elbert County, 368 S.E.2d 500, 502 (1988) (quotation
omitted). “Sheriff's departments and police
departments are not usually considered legal entities subject
to suit . . . .” Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d
1210, 1214 (11th Cir. 1992) (dismissing claim against
sheriff's department because department was not subject
to suit under Alabama law); see Bunyon v. Burke
Cnty., 285 F.Supp.2d 1310, 1328-29 (S.D. Ga. 2003)
(dismissing claim against police department, reasoning it was
not legal entity subject to suit). Thus, Plaintiff fails to
state a claim against Defendant Laurens County Sheriff
Department because it is not a legal entity subject to
liability in a § 1983 suit.
Plaintiff Fails to State a Claim for ...