Hill v. Bearden Drivers License
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis reflects that, at present, he lacks the funds to pay the $400 civil filing fee; therefore, his application [Doc. 1 ] is GRANTED and he will not be required to pay the filing fee. To sum up, this case will be DISMISSED because Defendant enjoys immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. Signed by District Judge J Ronnie Greer on 04/13/2018. (Copy of Order mailed to Alvino L. Hill) (AMP)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
ALVINO L. HILL,
BEARDEN DRIVERS LICENSE,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff Alvino L. Hill brings this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 1
seeking injunctive relief [Docs. 2 and 2-1]. The sole named Defendant is the “Bearden Drivers
License,” which the Court deems to be the Knoxville/Knox County Driver License Reinstatement
Center, 430 Montbrook Lane, Knoxville TN 37919. See Tennessee Department of Safety and
Homeland Security, Driver Services division, online at https://www.tn.gov/safety/driverservices/locations/knox2.html (last visited Apr. 11, 2018). Plaintiff’s application to proceed in
forma pauperis reflects that, at present, he lacks the funds to pay the $400 civil filing fee; therefore,
his application [Doc. 1] is GRANTED and he will not be required to pay the filing fee.
According to the allegations in the complaint, Plaintiff needs his drivers license to afford
himself transportation and, despite his numerous efforts to have his drivers license reinstated, he
has not realized that goal. For example, Plaintiff has visited several drivers license locations,
Using the same preprinted complaint form, Plaintiff filed contemporaneously a threepage complaint and a five-page supplemental complaint [Docs. 2, 2-1]. The Court treats the two
complaints as one pleading and fills in the gaps in the complaint with information and allegations
contained in the supplemental complaint.
attempting to secure the reinstatement of his drivers license, has paid all outstanding indebtedness
on the sixteen cars he has owned through the years, has paid many tickets—even tickets that were
old and not listed on the computer or on paper, and has kept tabs on his tickets for years. Plaintiff
contends that he has paid the fee for reinstatement of his license and the costs of printing the license
and that, indeed, he has overcome many obstacles, including paying his debt to society by serving
10 years imprisonment and living 14 to 16 years on the street. Plaintiff “give[s his] word” that he
is “fine” and that he “drive[s] well” and asks the Court to issue him a drivers license [Doc. 2-1 at
The Court must screen complaints filed by non-prisoners who are proceeding in forma
pauperis. See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608 (6th Cir. 1997) (citing 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007)). Dismissal is
required if complaints are frivolous or malicious, if they fail to state a claim for relief, or if they
seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
In performing this task, the Court recognizes that pro se pleadings filed in civil rights cases
are construed indulgently and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers. McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993); Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413,
416 (6th Cir. 1996). Even so, the complaint must be sufficient “to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face,” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), which simply
means the factual content pled by a plaintiff must permit a court “to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The standard articulated in Twombly and Iqbal “governs
dismissals for failure state a claim under [§§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)] because the
relevant statutory language tracks the language in Rule 12(b)(6).” Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468,
470–71 (6th Cir. 2010).
In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff must establish that he was
deprived of a federal right by a person acting under color of state law. See Black v. Barberton
Citizens Hosp., 134 F.3d 1265, 1267 (6th Cir. 1998); see also Braley v. City of Pontiac, 906 F.2d
220, 223 (6th Cir. 1990) (“Section 1983 does not itself create any constitutional rights; it creates a
right of action for the vindication of constitutional guarantees found elsewhere.”).
The Court now screens the complaint to determine if Defendant should be served.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Based on the following law and reasoning, no service will be ordered on Defendant.
It is well settled that the Eleventh Amendment bars an action in a federal court against a
State or a state agency unless Congress has abrogated its sovereign immunity or the State has
expressly waived it. See, e.g. Welch v. Texas Dep’t of Highways and Pub. Transp., 483 U.S. 468,
472-73 (1987); Mosley v. Hairston, 920 F.2d 409, 415 (6th Cir. 1990); Berndt v. Tennessee, 796
F.2d 879, 881 (6th Cir. 1986). This immunity extends to claims for injunctive relief. See Lawson
v. Shelby Cnty., Tenn., 211 F.3d 331, 335 (6th Cir. 2000) (providing that “the [Eleventh]
Amendment prohibits suits against a ‘state’ in federal court whether for injunctive, declaratory or
monetary relief”). Congress did not abrogate Eleventh Amendment immunity by enacting § 1983.
Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332 (1979). Tennessee has not expressly waived its right to sovereign
immunity. See Gross v. Univ. of Tenn., 620 F.2d 109, 110 (6th Cir. 1980); Anderson v. Univ. of
Tenn., No. 3:15-CV-00513, 2017 WL 499981, at *2 (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 7, 2017) (observing that
Tennessee has not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity); see also Tenn. Code Ann. § 2013-102(a).
The Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, a state agency of which the
“Bearden Drivers License” is a branch, is entitled to immunity under the Eleventh Amendment.
See Thiokol Corp. v. Mich. Dep’t of Treasury, 987 F.2d 376, 381 (6th Cir. 1993) (“[The Eleventh
Amendment] bars all suits, whether for injunctive, declaratory or monetary relief, against the state
and its departments.”) (citing Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100-01
(1984); Eckerman v. Tenn. Dep’t of Safety, 636 F.3d 202, 210 (6th Cir. 2010) (affirming summary
judgment for predecessor state agency on Eleventh Amendment grounds); Hazelwood v. Tenn.
Dep’t of Safety, No. 3:05-CV-356, 2006 WL 752588, at *1 (E.D. Tenn. Mar. 22, 2006) (dismissing
predecessor state agency as immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment).
Therefore, Defendant enjoys Eleventh Amendment immunity from this suit and the Court
has no jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claims against it. Cady v. Arenac Cnty., 574 F.3d 334, 344–45
(6th Cir. 2009) (finding that the Eleventh Amendment poses a jurisdictional bar that can be raised
sua sponte) (citing Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 678 (1974)).
To sum up, this case will be DISMISSED because Defendant enjoys immunity under the
Eleventh Amendment. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The case is not amenable to amendment.
LaFountain v. Harry, 716 F.3d 944 (6th Cir. 2013). In addition to the above, the Court has
carefully reviewed this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) and CERTIFIES that any appeal
from this action would not be taken in good faith. See Fed. R.App. P. 24(a)(3).
A SEPARATE JUDGMENT WILL ENTER.
s/J. RONNIE GREER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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