Coleman v. Beebe et al
ORDER dismissing pltf's complaint without prejudice; this dismissal constitutes a "strike"; all pending motions are denied as moot. Signed by Judge Susan Webber Wright on 5/23/12. (vjt)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
PINE BLUFF DIVISION
MIKE BEEBE, Governor of Arkansas; et
Plaintiff, Robert Coleman, is an inmate in the Arkansas Department of Correction East
Arkansas Regional Unit. He has filed a pro se Complaint (Doc. No. 2) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleging the Defendants violated his constitutional rights. Having reviewed Plaintiff’s Complaint
(Doc. No. 2), the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted and his Complaint (Doc. No. 2) should be DISMISSED.
The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requires federal courts to screen prisoner
complaints seeking relief against a governmental entity, officer, or employee. 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims
that: (a) are legally frivolous 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. §
An action is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Whether a plaintiff is represented by counsel or is appearing
pro se, his complaint must allege specific facts sufficient to state a claim. See Martin v. Sargent,
780 F .2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir.1985).
An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 547 (2007). In reviewing a pro se complaint under § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must give the
complaint the benefit of a liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). The
Court must also weight all factual allegations in favor of the plaintiff, unless the facts alleged are
clearly baseless. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992); Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232,
Title 42 of the United States Code, section 1983, allows an individual to bring suit against
persons who, under color of state law, have caused him to be “depriv[ed] of any rights, privileges,
or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws” of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1996).
Section 1983 itself “creates no substantive rights; it merely provides remedies for deprivation of
rights established elsewhere.” City of Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 471 U.S. 808, 816 (1985) (citations
omitted). In order to state a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential
elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and
(2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West
v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
In his Complaint, Plaintiff names the following Defendants: Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe;
David Henry; Robert Dittrich; Arkansas County, Arkansas; and the Arkansas Supreme Court. He
sues each defendant only in their individual capacities. In order to hold the defendants liable under
§1983 in their individual capacities, Plaintiff must show that each defendant was personally involved
in the alleged deprivation of his constitutional rights and that liability cannot not be predicated solely
on the grounds of respondeat superior. See Parrat v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 537 n.3 (1981); Johnson
v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743 (9th Cir. 1978).
Governor Mike Beebe, David Henry, Robert Dittrich
Plaintiff’s claims against Governor Beebe and Defendants Henry and Dittrich should be
dismissed. In his Complaint, Plaintiff broadly claims that the Defendants engaged in a conspiracy
to imprison him. (Doc. No. 2) However, he, fails to allege that any of these Defendants took
specific actions that resulted in the deprivation of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff’s claims against
these Defendants should therefore be DISMISSED for failure to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted.
Arkansas County, Arkansas
Plaintiff also fails to state a claim against Arkansas County. A county can be held liable
under § 1983 only if the a county policy or custom caused the deprivation of a plaintiff’s
constitutional rights. See L.L. Nelson Enter., Inc. v. Cnty. of St. Louis, Mo., 673 F.3d 799, 811 (8th
Cir. 2012); Miskovich v. Indep. Sch. Dist. 318, 226 F. Supp.2d 990, 1012 (D. Minn. 2002). Plaintiff
fails to allege that a county policy or custom caused the deprivation of his constitutional rights. The
Court hereby finds that Plaintiff’s claims against the County should be DISMISSED for failure to
state a claim.
Arkansas Supreme Court
Courts are not persons within the meaning of § 1983. Clark v. Clark, 984 F.2d 272, 273 (8th
Thus, Plaintiff’s claims against the Arkansas Supreme Court should also be
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that:
Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted against any of the
named Defendants and his Complaint (Doc. No. 2) should be DISMISSED without prejudice.
Dismissal of Plaintiff’s Complaint constitutes a “strike” within the meaning of the
Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).1
The Court certifies, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), that an in forma pauperis
appeal from this Order and the accompanying Judgment would not be taken in good faith.
All pending motions are DENIED as moot.
DATED this 23rd day of May 2012.
/s/Susan Webber Wright
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
The PLRA provides: “In no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action or appeal a judgment
in a civil action under this section if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while
incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States
that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted....” See Patton v. Jefferson Correctional Center, 136 F.3d 458, 462-64 (5th
Cir. 1998), where the court held that dismissal of a 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 action in part as
frivolous, and in part for failure to exhaust state court remedies as a habeas claim, should count as
a strike within the meaning of Section 1915(g).
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?