Valentine v. City of Omaha & Police Office, et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - The case is dismissed without prejudice. The court will enter judgment by a separate document. Ordered by Senior Judge Richard G. Kopf. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(GJG)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
CITY OF OMAHA , et al.,
On December 5, 2016 Plaintiff filed her pro se Complaint (Filing No. 1). On
December 16, 2016, after Plaintiff was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis,
the court conducted an initial review of the Complaint to determine whether summary
dismissal was appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Plaintiff alleged that she was falsely charged with a criminal offense and placed
on pretrial release for a period of 18 months before the charges were dismissed by the
prosecutor. The court determined that the Complaint failed to state a claim upon
which relief could be granted against the City of Omaha, the only named Defendant,
because Plaintiff did not allege that an official policy or custom caused the alleged
deprivation of her constitutional rights, but Plaintiff was granted leave to amend to
correct this pleading deficiency. An Amended Complaint (Filing No. 7) was filed on
December 21, 2016.
I. SUMMARY OF THE AMENDED COMPLAINT
In addition to suing the City of Omaha, Plaintiff has now named seven police
officers and one other individual as Defendants, together with Douglas County and
the State of Nebraska. Plaintiff has provided additional information regarding searches
of her residence and person in July 2015, and of her arrest in January 2016, but the
events described are the subject two other pending actions filed by Plaintiff in this
court. Thus, in Case No. 8:16CV131, which was filed on March 25, 2016, Plaintiff
complains about a body cavity search that was conducted at her residence in July
2015. In Case No. 8:16CV174, which was filed on April 19, 2016, Plaintiff again
complains about the body cavity search, alleges that criminal charges filed against her
in January 2016 for possession of a controlled substance resulted from an illegal
search, and alleges that excessive force was used in arresting her in January 2016.
In the present case, Plaintiff alleges that the warrant for her arrest was issued
on January 16, 2016, that she “had to stay in jail for 1 to 2 days” where she “had a
felony hold on [her] for possession of a controlled substance,” and that after getting
out of jail she “was placed on pretrial for about 9 months” (Filing No. 7 at CM/ECF
p. 4). Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint contains no factual allegations to show that she
was falsely charged with a criminal offense because of a municipal policy or custom.
II. APPLICABLE 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
III. DISCUSSION OF CLAIM
“To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation
of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show
that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state
law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). The City of Omaha may only be liable
under section 1983 if its “policy” or “custom” caused a violation of Plaintiff’s
constitutional rights. See Doe By and Through Doe v. Washington Cnty., 150 F.3d
920, 922 (8th Cir. 1998) (citing Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694
An “official policy” involves a deliberate choice to follow a course of action
made from among various alternatives by an official who has the final authority to
establish governmental policy. Jane Doe A By and Through Jane Doe B v. Special
School Dist. of St. Louis Cnty., 901 F.2d 642, 645 (8th Cir. 1990) (citing Pembaur v.
City of Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 483 (1986)). To establish the existence of a
governmental custom, a plaintiff must prove:
The existence of a continuing, widespread, persistent pattern of
unconstitutional misconduct by the governmental entity’s
Deliberate indifference to or tacit authorization of such conduct by
the governmental entity’s policymaking officials after notice to
the officials of that misconduct; and
That plaintiff was injured by acts pursuant to the governmental
entity’s custom, i.e., that the custom was the moving force behind
the constitutional violation.
Jane Doe, 901 F.2d at 646.
Plaintiff does not present any allegations of an official policy or custom in her
Amended Complaint. Therefore, she has not alleged sufficient facts to “nudge” her
claim against the City of Omaha, or Douglas County, or the State of Nebraska, across
the line from conceivable to plausible under the Jane Doe standard. None of the
allegations made against individual Defendants show that they violated Plaintiffs’
constitutional rights in any respect that is not already subject to litigation in the
previously filed actions.
Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. Plaintiff will not be allowed to file a second amended complaint because the
court has concluded that to do so would be futile.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the case is dismissed without prejudice.
The court will enter judgment by a separate document.
DATED this 18th day of January, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge
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