Castro v. Morris et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION by Judge Charles R. Simpson, III on 6/21/2012; Having failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the Court will enter aseparate order dismissing this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).cc: plaintiff pro se, defendants (TLB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:12CV-74-S
HON. JUDGE GEOFFREY MORRIS et al.
Plaintiff, Ruth Castro, proceeding pro se, in forma pauperis has filed a complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (hereinafter § 1983) (DN 1). This matter is before the Court for
screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601,
608-09 (6th Cir. 1997). For the reasons set forth below, the action will be dismissed.
I. SUMMARY OF CLAIMS
In addition to stating § 1983 as the basis for this complaint, Plaintiff also includes
“Human rights violations, TORT-Federal law Violations, and Social injustice” as bases for her
complaint. She names retired Judge Geoffrey Morris, Judge Rebecca Ward, Metro Louisville
police detective Matt Glass, and Michael McIntire, an attorney with the public defender’s office
in Louisville, Kentucky, as Defendants in this action. She seeks monetary damages and punitive
damages, as well as for the Court to “bring this people in power...to answer to my charges”; to
restore her good name and reputation in the Louisville community; direct the return of her home
and small for- profit business; grant the return of her car, health, emotional stability and dignity;
and for this Court to punish the criminal activity of Defendants to the maximum extent of the law
including prison time if Defendants are found guilty. Attached to the complaint are two
documents, a Louisville Metro Police Department Professional Standards Unit Complainant
Affidavit and a copy of a letter Plaintiff wrote to Senator Mitch McConnell.
A review of the complaint and attached documents reveals many general allegations of
wrongdoing, but sparse facts. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants engaged in a conspiracy against
her that began when she requested Defendant Ward to remove herself from a case in which
Plaintiff, who refers to herself as a Latin woman, was apparently a party and Defendant Ward
was presiding. According to the complaint Plaintiff made the recusal request because of
Defendant Ward’s bias against Latin women. Plaintiff contends that “after the shock that ‘I’
(ignorant Latin women) was able to remove her,” Defendant Ward enlisted the other Defendants
to engage in a conspiracy to commit wrong against her.
Plaintiff alleges that after she made the recusal request she began to be harassed at her
place of employment. One of her co-workers, Kelly Meany, stated that she was friends with
Judge Ward and started threatening to have Plaintiff arrested. Officer Angel Davidson,
according to Plaintiff also a friend of Defendant Ward and Kelly Meany, came to the store and
harassed Plaintiff. He made fun of Plaintiff’s clothes, accent, shoes, and breasts. Every month
he made threats to have Plaintiff arrested; Plaintiff believes this behavior is connected to “what
happened with Judge Ward.” Plaintiff contends that she was arrested unlawfully because
Defendant Glass “took a fraudulant warrant against her when he knew he had no charges.”
Plaintiff alleges that he took this warrant as a favor to Defendant Ward. Plaintiff contends that
Defendant Glass conspired with Officer Davidson, Kelly Meany, and someone she refers to as
“Robin” to harass her and have her arrested. She further contends that she lost her freedom due
to a false incarceration orchestrated by retired Judge Geoffrey Morris.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants conspired against her by “taking my freedom illegally
and by excessive force in a false incarceration, false arrest, unlawful arrest, unlawful restrain
[depriving her] of [her] personal liberties of freedom.” She makes allegations of coercion of
false witnesses, malicious prosecution, intimidating a witness, tampering with evidence, legal
malpractice, and fabrication of false charges. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants
retaliated against her after she opened up a Judicial Commission investigation against Defendant
Ward and later against Defendant Glass. Plaintiff states that the Defendants engaged “in this
criminal activity punishable by law actions as ‘favors’ and/with judge Rebecca Ward in order to
advance their careers and get political favors and have engage in violating not only my Civil
rights but my human rights and more as a LATIN FEMALE FROM PUERTO RICO AND US
CITIZEN! To silence me as the VOICE! Of the Latin community and advocate for women and
children. As is continuously and frequently done to all minorities leaders as we rise, putting us
in prison, intimidating us with false charges and abuse of force and power! In order to keep us
minorities silence! Without a VOICE! And proper and adequate representation.”
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Upon review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), a district court must dismiss a case at any time if
it determines that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law
or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). The trial court may, therefore, dismiss
a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the
factual contentions are clearly baseless. Id. at 327. In order to survive dismissal for failure to
state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
“[A] district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff
and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC,
561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009)
(citations omitted)). “But the district court need not accept a ‘bare assertion of legal
conclusions.’” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d at 488 (quoting Columbia
Natural Res., Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995)). The court’s duty “does not
require [it] to conjure up unpled allegations,” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979),
or to create a claim for a plaintiff. Clark v. Nat’l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169
(6th Cir. 1975). To command otherwise would require the Court “to explore exhaustively all
potential claims of a pro se plaintiff, [and] would also transform the district court from its
legitimate advisory role to the improper role of an advocate seeking out the strongest arguments
and most successful strategies for a party.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278
(4th Cir. 1985).
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a “short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “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. at
678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.’ Nor
does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555, 557). With respect to governmental officials, the Sixth Circuit noted:
There is a sound reason for requiring that a civil rights action against a government
official or employee state a claim in terms of facts rather than conclusions. When a
government employee is sued, if no factual allegations are made, discovery and perhaps
even trial may be required to demonstrate that the claim has no merit. Such activities
require the government defendant and others such as government attorneys involved in
defense of the claim to divert their attention from their usual activities and to become
involved in the litigation to the neglect of their assigned duties.
Chapman v. City of Detroit, 808 F.2d 459, 465 (6th Cir. 1986).
In the present case, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants engaged in a conspiracy to violate
her civil rights. Under § 1983 a civil conspiracy is “‘an agreement between two or more persons
to injure another by unlawful action.’” Bazzi v. City of Dearborn, 658 F.3d 598, 602 (6th Cir.
2011) (quoting Revis v. Meldrum, 489 F.3d 273, 290 (6th Cir. 2007)). “It is well-settled that
conspiracy claims must be pled with some degree of specificity and that vague and conclusory
allegations unsupported by material facts will not be sufficient to state such a claim under
§ 1983.” Gutierrez v. Lynch, 826 F.2d 1534, 1538 (6th Cir. 1987). In order to state a claim of
conspiracy, Plaintiff must allege the elements that make up a conspiracy claim: that a single plan
existed; that the alleged conspirators shared in the general conspiratorial objective to deprive
Plaintiff of her constitutional or federal statutory rights; and that an overt act was committed in
furtherance of the conspiracy that caused injury. Hooks v. Hooks, 771 F.2d 935, 944 (6th Cir.
A review of Plaintiff’s complaint reveals that she has failed to meet the pleading standard
required by Rule 8(a)(2) needed to state a conspiracy claim. Plaintiff’s complaint is completely
devoid of factual matter that would allow the Court to draw a reasonable inference that the
named Defendants are liable for the alleged misconduct. As to Defendant Morris, Plaintiff states
that he orchestrated a false incarceration against her. As to Defendant Ward, Plaintiff contends
that she enlisted Defendants to engage in a conspiracy. As to Defendant Glass, Plaintiff alleges
that as a favor to Judge Ward, he took a fraudulent warrant out against Plaintiff. As to the final
Defendant in this action, Michael McIntire, Plaintiff makes no specific allegations regarding him
in her complaint. Other than these few conclusory allegations that she links to a specifically
named Defendant, Plaintiff makes only general allegations that are connected to no particular
Defendant and have no underlying factual support. She provides no factual support of
conspiracy other than the repeated recitation that one existed between the four Defendants.
Plaintiff’s complaint contains nothing “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfullyharmed-me-accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The complaint does not contain
sufficient factual matter that, if accepted as true, states “a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
Furthermore, the complaint does not connect any factual allegations to any particular
constitutional violation nor does it identify how each Defendant’s actions resulted in the
deprivation of her constitutional rights. To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege
that 1) a right secured by the Constitution or a federal statute has been violated, and 2) the
violation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S.
42, 48 (1988); Flanory v. Bunn, 604 F.3d 249, 253 (6th Cir. 2010). A complaint filed under §
1983 must show a causal connection between each of the named Defendants and the alleged
constitutional deprivation. A § 1983 complaint must allege that specific conduct by each
Defendant was the proximate cause of the constitutional injury. King v. Massarweh, 782 F.2d
825, 828-29 (9th Cir. 1986). “Congress did not intend § 1983 liability to attach where causation
is absent.” Deaton v. Montgomery Cnty, Ohio, 989 F.2d 885, 889 (6th Cir. 1993). To establish
causation, Plaintiff must adduce “an affirmative link . . . [a] moving force that animated the
behavior . . . that resulted in the constitutional violations alleged.” Id. When the theory of
causation is a matter of pure speculation and is nothing more than an hypothetical argument, the
pleadings are insufficient to sustain a compensable § 1983 claim. Horn v. Madison Cnty Fiscal
Court, 22 F.3d 653, 659 (6th Cir. 1994).
Plaintiff’s complaint is void of any facts supporting a causal connection between
wrongful acts on the part of Defendants and the alleged harm to Plaintiff. The “legal conclusion
she makes need not be accepted as true.” See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555;
Rondigo, L.L.C. v. Twp. of Richmond, 641 F.3d 673, 684 (6th Cir. 2011).
Having failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the Court will enter a
separate order dismissing this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
June 21, 2012
Plaintiff, pro se
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