Ruby v. Hall et al

Filing 3

RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION recommending that Plaintiff's claims be dismissed without prejudice to his right to seek in an appropriate forum; recommending that Plaintiff's 1 application to proceed in forma pauperis be denied as moot and that the Court certity that an in forma pauperis appeal taken from the order and judgment dismissing this action would be frivolous and would not be taken in good faith. Objections to R&R due no later than 14 days from the date the Recommended Disposition is received. Signed by Magistrate Judge Beth Deere on 2/5/10. (hph)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT E A S T E R N DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS W E S T E R N DIVISION R I C K R. RUBY V. H A L L , et al. C A S E NO. 4:10CV00069 WRW/BD DEFENDANTS P L A IN T IF F R E C O M M E N D E D DISPOSITION I. P r o c e d u r e for Filing Objections: T h e following recommended disposition has been sent to United States District J u d g e William R. Wilson, Jr. Any party may file written objections to this re c o m m e n d a tio n . Objections should be specific and should include the factual or legal b a s is for the objection. If the objection is to a factual finding, specifically identify that f in d in g and the evidence that supports your objection. An original and one copy of your o b je c tio n s must be received in the office of the United States District Court Clerk no later th a n fourteen (14) days from the date you receive the Partial Recommended Disposition. A copy will be furnished to the opposing party. Failure to file timely objections may re s u lt in waiver of the right to appeal questions of fact. M a il your objections and "Statement of Necessity" to: C le rk , United States District Court E a s te rn District of Arkansas 6 0 0 West Capitol Avenue, Suite A149 L ittle Rock, AR 72201-3325 II. A n a ly sis : A. B a c k g ro u n d P la in tif f , a pre-trial detainee at the Faulkner County Detention Facility ("FCDF"), f ile d this action pro se under 42 U.S.C. 1983, along with an application for leave to p ro c e e d in forma pauperis. (Docket entries #1 and #2) In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges th a t officers at the Faulkner County Detention Facility have failed to reimburse him for c o m m iss a ry items stolen from him by other inmates. Plaintiff has failed to state a constitutional claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Accordingly, the Court recommends that Plaintiff's claims be dismissed without prejudice a n d that his application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (#1) be DENIED as moot. B. S ta n d a rd F e d e ra l courts are required to screen prisoner complaints seeking relief against a g o v e rn m e n ta l entity, officer, or employee. 28 U.S.C. 1915(e). The Court must dismiss a complaint, or portion thereof, if the prisoner has raised claims that: (a) are legally f riv o lo u s or malicious; (b) fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (c) seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C 1915(e)(2). T o state a cognizable claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983, a plaintiff must allege that the c o n d u c t of a defendant acting under color of state law deprived him of a right, privilege, o r immunity secured by the federal Constitution or laws of the United States. 42 U.S.C. 2 1983. Although "detailed factual allegations are not required," the complaint must c o n ta in sufficient factual matter to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ----, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1940 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v . Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when th e pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the d e f e n d a n t is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, --- U.S. ----, 129 S.Ct. at 1940. W h ile a court must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true and hold a plaintiff's pro se complaint "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by la w ye rs," Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972) (per curiam), a plaintiff still m u s t assert facts sufficient to state a claim as a matter of law. Martin v. Sargent, 780 F .2 d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir.1985). C. P e rso n a l Property In his Complaint, Plaintiff claims that other inmates have stolen commissary items f ro m him on at least two occasions. Plaintiff states that he reported this conduct to s e v e ra l officers at the FCDF and that they allegedly informed Plaintiff that he would be re im b u rs e d for the items that were wrongly taken. Plaintiff complains that, at this time, h e has not been reimbursed the $20.00 that he is owed. Assuming these allegations to be tru e , Plaintiff has failed to state a claim in federal court. A prisoner's claim regarding the loss of personal property does not state a c o n s titu tio n a l claim for relief. In Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 536, 104 S.Ct. 3194 3 (1984), the United States Supreme Court held that when a state actor deprives an in d iv id u a l of personal property, there is no relief available under 1983 if state law p ro v id e s adequate post-deprivation remedies. In Butler v. Smith, 208 F.3d 217 (8th Cir. 2 0 0 0 ) (unpublished table decision), the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that a c o u n ty prisoner who alleged he was wrongly charged for meals while housed at a county ja il had an adequate post-deprivation remedy in state court and, thus, could not seek relief u n d e r 1983. Specifically, the Eighth Circuit noted that one available remedy was a c o m m o n -la w conversion action for the wrongful possession or disposition of another's p ro p e rty. Butler, 208 F.3d at *1 (citing McQuillan v. Mercedes-Benz Credit Corp., 331 A rk . 242, 961 S.W.2d 729, 732 (1998)). In this case, not only does Plaintiff have an adequate post-deprivation remedy a v a ila b le in state court, but also he has failed to allege that he has been deprived of p e rs o n a l property by a state actor. In his Complaint, Plaintiff has alleged that other in m a te s deprived him of the property at issue and have failed to reimburse him for the d e p riv a tio n . Plaintiff does not claim that any state actor was responsible for the injury th a t he allegedly has suffered. Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims fail for that reason, as well. III. C o n c lu s io n : T h e Court recommends that Plaintiff's claims be DISMISSED without prejudice to h is right to seek redress in an appropriate forum. The Court further recommends that P la in tif f 's application to proceed in forma pauperis be DENIED as moot and that the 4 Court certify that an in forma pauperis appeal taken from the order and judgment d is m is s in g this action would be frivolous and would not be taken in good faith D A T E D this 5th day of February, 2010. ___________________________________ U N IT E D STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 5

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