Thompson v. Cuyahoga County Sheriffs Department et al
Opinion & Order signed by Judge James S. Gwin on 5/9/17. The Court grants plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis and dismisses this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The Court certifies, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), that an appeal from this decision could not be taken in good faith. (Related Doc. 1 ) (D,MA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, et al.,
CASE NO. 1:17-CV-00126
OPINION & ORDER
[Resolving Doc. No. 1]
JAMES S. GWIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE:
Pro se Plaintiff Calvin Thompson filed this action against the Cuyahoga County
Sheriff’s Department, Cuyahoga County Associate Warden Alfred Wilcox, Cuyahoga County
Assistant Prosecutor Denise Cameron, Narcotics Division Chief Dale Smith, and Edward
Graves. Plaintiff alleges that in 1995, he was fired from his job as a jail in corrections officer
and prosecuted for smuggling two marijuana cigarettes into the jail and passing them to an
inmate. He asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983, 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242 for
wrongful termination, entrapment, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional
distress, violation of Fourth Amendment rights, denial of due process and denial of equal
protection. He seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.
Plaintiff indicates he was employed as a corrections officer in the Cuyahoga County jail
in 1995. He states an inmate at the jail offered him money to bring marijuana cigarettes to him
in the jail, but Plaintiff refused the offer. He contends the inmate’s girlfriend then began putting
pressure on Plaintiff to bring marijuana into the jail for the inmate. He states he finally
acquiesced to her demands and brought a “couple of small sticks” into the jail. When he gave
them to the inmate, he was arrested. He later learned the inmate was acting as a jail informant.
Plaintiff states he was placed in a single cell, in full view of his former colleagues. He
states he cried for hours until he was released on bond. He was convicted in 1995 on charges of
trafficking in drugs, and bringing contraband property into a detention facility. He served his
sentence and paid all of his court costs. His conviction was expunged in 2008. (Doc. No. 4-2).
Plaintiff has now filed this action to contest the actions which led to his conviction
twenty-two years ago. He alleges he was entrapped by the Defendants to do something he
would not otherwise have done. He alleges that Caucasian officers who smuggled drugs to
inmates were not treated as harshly as he was treated. He indicates the Defendants embarrassed
and humiliated him by placing him in a cell where he could be seen by other corrections
officers. He asserts claims for wrongful termination, entrapment, malicious prosecution,
intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of Fourth Amendment rights, denial of due
process and denial of equal protection.
II. Legal Standard
Although the Court does not hold pro se pleadings to the same standard as those filed by
attorneys, the Court is required to dismiss an in forma pauperis action under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)
if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or if it lacks an arguable basis in law
or fact.1 A claim lacks an arguable basis in law or fact when it is based on an unquestionably
meritless legal theory or when the factual allegations are clearly baseless.2 A cause of action
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it does not contain enough facts to
suggest Plaintiff has a plausible claim that entitles him to the relief he seeks.3 This does not
mean a Plaintiff is required to allege the facts of his Complaint in great detail, but he still must
provide more than “an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.”4 A
Complaint that offers only legal conclusions or a simple listing of the elements of a cause of
action will not meet this standard.5 When reviewing the Complaint under § 1915(e), the Court
must read it in a way that is the most favorable to the Plaintiff.6
As an initial matter, the statute of limitations for bringing an action under 42 U.S.C. §§
1981 and 1983 has expired. Ohio’s two year statute of limitations for bodily injury applies to
§§ 1981 and 1983 claims.7 The actions alleged in the Complaint took place in 1995. This
action was filed in 2017, well beyond the expiration of the two-year statute of limitations
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989);
Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996); Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d
1196 (6th Cir. 1990).
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009).
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Bibbo v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 151 F.3d 559, 561 (6th Cir. 1998).
LRL Properties v. Portage Metro Housing Authority, 55 F. 3d 1097 (6th Cir. 1995); See
Tolbert v. State of Ohio Dept. of Transportation, 172 F.3d 934 (6th Cir.1999).
period. There would be no purpose in allowing this matter to go forward in view of the fact that
it is clearly time-barred.8
The Court notes that the expiration of the statute of limitations period is an affirmative
defense that generally must be raised by the Defendants in a responsive pleading.9 If, however,
it is clear from the face of the Plaintiff’s Complaint that relief is barred, the Complaint may be
dismissed, sua sponte, at the screening stage.10 Here, Plaintiff’s Complaint clearly indicates that
the events in question occurred more than twenty years ago. His claims under §§ 1981 and
1983 are dismissed.
Plaintiff cannot bring claims under 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242. These are criminal
statutes. They do not provide a private right of action.11
Plaintiff’s remaining claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress arises, if at all
under state tort law. Generally, federal courts do not have jurisdiction to hear state law claims
unless the Plaintiff and Defendants are citizens of different states, and federal court jurisdiction
is based on diversity of citizenship. That is not the case here. Federal courts may have
supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims if the Plaintiff asserts federal law claims that are
based on the same facts and it makes sense to hear the claims together in a single trial.12 The
See Fraley v. Ohio Gallia County, No. 97-3564, 1998 WL 789385, at *1 (6th Cir., Oct. 30,
1998)(affirming sua sponte dismissal of pro se §1983 action filed after two year statute of
limitations for bringing such an action had expired)
Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 216 (2007).
U.S. v. Oguaju, No. 02-2485, 2003 WL 21580657, *2 (6th Cir. July 9, 2003); Robinson v.
Overseas Military Sales Corp., 21 F.3d 502, 511 (2d Cir.1994).
United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 724 (1966).
Court, however, may exercise discretion in hearing state law matters.13 In cases where the
federal law claims are dismissed before trial, the state law claims should also be dismissed.14
Having dismissed Plaintiff’s federal law claims, this Court declines jurisdiction to hear
Plaintiff’s state law claim.
Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. No. 5) is
granted and this action is dismissed under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e). The Court certifies, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), that an appeal from this decision could not be taken in good faith.15
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: May 9, 2017
Id. at 726.
James S. Gwin
JAMES S. GWIN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) provides:
An appeal may not be taken in forma pauperis if the trial court certifies that it is not
taken in good faith.
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