Harker v. Houseman et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause process to issue upon the complaint as to defendant Jesse Houseman, because the complaint is legally frivolous and fails to state a claim upon which relief ma y be granted. See 28 U.S.C. ' 1915(e)(2)(B); Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). IT IS HEREBY CERTIFIED that an appeal from this Order would not be taken in good faith. See 28 U.S.C. ' 1915(a)(3). A separate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order. Signed by District Judge John A. Ross on 12/10/2015. (JMC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
JEFFREY A. HARKER,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court for review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. For the reasons
set forth below, this case will be dismissed, without prejudice. See 28 U.S.C. ' 1915(e)(2)(B);
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
28 U.S.C. ' 1915(e)
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must dismiss a complaint filed in forma
pauperis if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,
or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. An action is frivolous
if it "lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989).
An action is malicious if it is undertaken for the purpose of harassing the named defendants and
not for the purpose of vindicating a cognizable right. Spencer v. Rhodes, 656 F. Supp. 458,
461-63 (E.D.N.C. 1987), aff'd 826 F.2d 1059 (4th Cir. 1987).
An action fails to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead Aenough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.@ Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,570 (2007).
To determine whether an action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the
Court must engage in a two-step inquiry. First, the Court must identify the allegations in the
complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937,
1950-51 (2009). These include "legal conclusions" and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements." Id. at 1949. Second, the
Court must determine whether the complaint states a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 1950-51.
This is a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience
and common sense." Id. at 1950. The plaintiff is required to plead facts that show more than the
"mere possibility of misconduct." Id. The Court must review the factual allegations in the
complaint "to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief." Id. at 1951. When
faced with alternative explanations for the alleged misconduct, the Court may exercise its
judgment in determining whether plaintiff's conclusion is the most plausible or whether it is more
likely that no misconduct occurred. Id. at 1950, 51-52.
Moreover, 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 weigh all factual allegations in favor of the plaintiff, unless the facts alleged
are clearly baseless. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992).
Plaintiff filed this action for monetary relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants
Jesse Houseman (Deputy), John Jordan (Sheriff), and the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Office,
alleging constitutional violations arising out of an incident that occurred on August 12, 2014.
After reviewing the complaint, this Court interpreted plaintiff’s allegations as asserting only an
excessive-use-of-force claim and dismissed this action under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 46
(1971). A review of Missouri CaseNet had revealed that plaintiff was facing state criminal
charges involving the same incident for, inter alia, assault/attempted assault and resisting and
interfering with a felony arrest.
See Missouri v. Harker, No. 14CG-CR01466-01 (Cape
The case was pending in state court.
The Court further noted that sheriff’s
departments are not suable entities, the doctrine of respondeat superior is not applicable in § 1983
actions, and plaintiff had failed to assert any claims or allegations against defendant John Jordan.
Thereafter, plaintiff informed the Court that he was also asserting an illegal arrest claim,
and the Court did find one conclusory statement in the complaint alleging a warrantless arrest.
Plaintiff asked that this Court stay his claims pending resolution of his underlying state criminal
proceeding. A stay was granted with respect only to defendant Jesse Houseman, who allegedly
was the deputy who arrested and tasered plaintiff. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 397 (2007).
Plaintiff was advised that, if he wished to re-open this case relative to defendant Houseman, he
must inform the Court within thirty days of his criminal judgment becoming final, and he has
now done so [Doc. #12].
More specifically, plaintiff advised the Court that after pleading
guilty to the state criminal charges, he was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment.
December 8, 2015, this case was re-opened as to defendant Houseman [Doc. #13], and plaintiff
was advised that the complaint would be reviewed under § 1915 to determine if process should
issue as to defendant Houseman.
To recover damages for an allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for
other harm caused by actions that would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a ' 1983 plaintiff
must prove that his conviction or sentence has been reversed, expunged, declared invalid by a state
tribunal, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In the instant action, plaintiff does not claim that his state
criminal conviction or sentence has been reversed, expunged, invalidated, or called into question.
As such, having carefully reviewed this case, the Court concludes that plaintiff's claims against
defendant Jesse Houseman are presently barred by the United States Supreme Court's holding in
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Clerk shall not issue process or cause process to
issue upon the complaint as to defendant Jesse Houseman, because the complaint is legally
frivolous and fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
See 28 U.S.C.
' 1915(e)(2)(B); Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
IT IS HEREBY CERTIFIED that an appeal from this Order would not be taken in good
faith. See 28 U.S.C. ' 1915(a)(3).
A separate Order of Dismissal shall accompany this Memorandum and Order.
Dated this 10th day of December, 2015.
JOHN A. ROSS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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