York v. Ravenna City Council
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - On the court's own motion, York will have 30 days in which to file an amended complaint that states federal claims upon which relief may be granted. York must clearly designate on the face of the document that it is his amended complaint. In addition, to avoid confusion, the amended complaint must clearly display the case number. The clerk of the court is directed to set the following pro se case management deadline: March 4, 2016: check for amended complaint. The court will conduct further review of any amended complaint filed in this case to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Ordered by Judge John M. Gerrard. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(GJG)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
SHAWN PATRICK YORK,
RAVENNA CITY COUNCIL,
This matter is before the court on initial review of Shawn Patrick York’s
Complaint (Filing No. 1). For the reasons discussed below, the court finds that York
has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted against the City of
Ravenna, Nebraska. On the court’s own motion, York will be provided an
opportunity to file an amended complaint.
I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
York named the Ravenna City Council (“city council”) as the defendant in this
case. York alleged he helped another individual, Sylvia Yanda, “with research to save
her land from annexation.” York alleged he has a verbal contract with Yanda “to
develop some of her property,” and the city is “trying to force a breach of contract”
between them. (Filing No. 4 at CM/ECF p. 2.) He alleged the city council
“unofficially told Officer Kegley to target him [and] have [him] arrested.” In addition,
York alleged Officer Kegley almost hit his wife with a Ravenna police truck. (Filing
No. 4 at CM/ECF pp. 2-3.)
For relief, York seeks “removal” of the city council and the city’s police
department, and also for payment of restitution and this court’s fees and costs. (Filing
No. 4 at CM/ECF p. 5.)
II. STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW
The court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to determine
whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court must
dismiss a complaint or any portion of it that states a frivolous or malicious claim, that
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Pro se plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to “nudge their
claims across the line from conceivable to plausible,” or “their complaint must be
dismissed.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“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.”).
“The essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair notice of the nature and basis or grounds
for a claim, and a general indication of the type of litigation involved.’” Topchian v.
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Hopkins v.
Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir. 1999)). However, “[a] pro se complaint must
be liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held to a lesser pleading standard than
other parties.” Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal quotation marks and citations
Liberally construed, Plaintiff here alleges federal constitutional claims. To state
a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege a violation of rights protected
by the United States Constitution or created by federal statute and also must show that
the alleged deprivation was caused by conduct of a person acting under color of state
law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Buckley v. Barlow, 997 F.2d 494, 495
(8th Cir. 1993).
York sued the Ravenna City Council and alleges a violation of his civil rights.
(Filing No. 4 at CM/ECF p. 4.) The court treats York’s suit against the city council
as a suit against the municipality itself, the City of Ravenna. Thus, the court must
consider whether York has stated a claim upon which relief may be granted against
the City of Ravenna.
Section 1983 liability for a constitutional violation may attach to a municipality
if the violation resulted from (1) an “official municipal policy,” (2) an unofficial
“custom,” or (3) a deliberately indifferent failure to train or supervise. Jiang v.
Porter, No. 4:15-CV-1008 (CEJ), 2015 WL 9461490, at *5 (E. D. Mo. Dec. 28, 2015)
(citing Atkinson v. City of Mountain View, Mo., 709 F.3d 1201, 1214 (8th Cir. 2013)).
“Locating a ‘policy’ ensures that a municipality is held liable only for those
deprivations resulting from the decisions of its duly constituted legislative body or of
those officials whose acts may fairly be said to be those of the municipality.” Bd. of
Cnty. Comm’rs of Bryan Cnty. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 403 (1997). “Similarly, an act
performed pursuant to a ‘custom’ that has not been formally approved by an
appropriate decisionmaker may fairly subject a municipality to liability on the theory
that the relevant practice is so widespread as to have the force of law.” Id. at 404.
York’s Complaint does not allege the existence of an official municipal policy
or an unofficial custom. Rather, he alleges only that the Ravenna City Council
instructed a law enforcement officer to “target him” and this same officer almost hit
his wife with a city vehicle. While York need not specifically plead or identify an
unconstitutional policy or custom, at the very least, he must allege facts that would
support the existence of an unconstitutional policy or custom. See CrumpleyPatterson v. Trinity Lutheran Hosp., 388 F.3d 588, 591 (8th Cir. 2004). He has not
done so here.
On the court’s own motion, the court will give York 30 days in which to file an
amended complaint that states a claim upon which relief may be granted against the
City of Ravenna.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that:
On the court’s own motion, York will have 30 days in which to file an
amended complaint that states federal claims upon which relief may be granted. York
must clearly designate on the face of the document that it is his amended complaint.
In addition, to avoid confusion, the amended complaint must clearly display the case
The clerk of the court is directed to set the following pro se case
management deadline: March 4, 2016: check for amended complaint.
The court will conduct further review of any amended complaint filed in
this case to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. §
DATED this 3rd day of February, 2016.
BY THE COURT:
s/ John M. Gerrard
United States District Judge
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