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McNeal v. Columbus Police Department

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Columbus Division

May 18, 2018

TOMMY MCNEAL, Plaintiff,
v.
COLUMBUS POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          CLAY D. LAND CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         This case is currently before the Court for screening as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff Tommy McNeal, an inmate confined at the Muscogee County Jail, filed the above-captioned proceeding seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and requested to proceed without the prepayment of filing fees. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's complaint is hereby DISMISSED without prejudice.

         I. Motion to Proceed In Form Pauperis

         Although Plaintiff was previously granted in forma pauperis status, Plaintiff is still obligated to pay the full balance of the filing fee, in installments, as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b) and explained below. It is thus requested that the CLERK forward a copy of this ORDER to the business manager of the facility in which Plaintiff is incarcerated so that withdrawals from his account may commence as payment toward the filing fee.

         A. Directions to Plaintiff's Custodian

         It is hereby ORDERED that the warden of the institution wherein Plaintiff is incarcerated, or the Sheriff of any county wherein he is held in custody, and any successor custodians, each month cause to be remitted to the Clerk of this court twenty percent (20%) of the preceding month's income credited to Plaintiff's account at said institution until the $350.00 filing fee ($328.88 remaining) has been paid in full. In accordance with the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Plaintiff's custodian is hereby authorized to forward payments from the prisoner's account to the Clerk of Court each month until the filing fee is paid in full, provided the amount in the account exceeds $10.00. It is further ORDERED that collection of monthly payments from Plaintiff's trust fund account shall continue until the entire $350.00 has been collected, notwithstanding the dismissal of Plaintiff's lawsuit or the granting of judgment against him prior to the collection of the full filing fee.

         B. Plaintiff's Obligations Upon Release

         Pursuant to provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, in the event Plaintiff is hereafter released from the custody of the State of Georgia or any county thereof, he shall remain obligated to pay any balance due on the filing fee in this proceeding until said amount has been paid in full; Plaintiff shall continue to remit monthly payments as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Collection from Plaintiff of any balance due on the filing fee by any means permitted by law is hereby authorized in the event Plaintiff is released from custody and fails to remit payments. Plaintiff's complaint is subject to dismissal if he has the ability to make monthly payments and fails to do so.

         II. Preliminary Review of Plaintiff's Complaint

         A. Standard for Preliminary Review

         Because Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee proceeding under Section 1983 and seeks to proceed in forma pauperis in this action, his complaint is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) & 1915A which require a district court to dismiss any complaint that is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. When conducting a preliminary review, the district court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and make all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. See Brown v. Johnson, 387 F.3d 1344, 1347 (11th Cir. 2004) (stating that allegations in the complaint must be viewed as true). Pro se pleadings are also “held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys, ” and a pro se complaint is thus “liberally construed.” Tannenbaum v. United States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998) (per curiam). The district court, however, cannot allow a plaintiff to litigate frivolous, conclusory, or speculative claims. As part of the preliminary screening, the court shall dismiss a complaint, or any part thereof, prior to service, if it is apparent that the plaintiff's claims are frivolous or if his allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted - i.e., that the plaintiff is not entitled to relief based on the facts alleged. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         To state a viable claim, the complaint must include “enough factual matter” to “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). There must also be “enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” to prove the claim. Id. at 556. The claims cannot be speculative or based solely on beliefs or suspicions; each must be supported by allegations of relevant and discoverable fact. Id. Thus, neither legal conclusions nor a recitation of legally relevant terms, standing alone, is sufficient to survive preliminary review. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'”) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Claims without an arguable basis in law or fact will be dismissed as frivolous. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); accord Bilal v. Driver, 251 F.3d 1346, 1349 (11th Cir. 2001) (noting that claims are frivolous if “clearly baseless” or based upon “indisputably meritless” legal theories).

         B. Plaintiff's Claims

         The events underlying Plaintiff's complaint occurred “on or about” January 4, 2018. Compl. 5, ECF No. 1. According to Plaintiff, on that date the members of the Columbus Police Department arrested Plaintiff and transferred him to Midtown Medical Center where medical staff treated Plaintiff's “serious illness.” Id. Although Plaintiff arrived at the medical center fully clothed, Plaintiff realized his pants, belt, shoes, and underwear were missing when he “finally was aware of [his] surroundings.” Id. The medical staff told Plaintiff that he changed into a pair of medical pants when he arrived, they placed his belongings in a ...


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