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Valentine v. City of Omaha

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

May 24, 2016

VERONICA VALENTINE, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF OMAHA, CHIEF OF OMAHA POLICE SCHMADER, and UNKNOWN JOHN JANE DOE POLICE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RICHARD G. KOPF SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on initial review of Plaintiff’s Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this case on April 19, 2016. (Filing No. 1.) The Complaint names the City of Omaha, Chief of Omaha Police Schmader, and Unknown John and Jane Doe Police as Defendants. The Complaint does not indicate whether the officers are sued in their individual or official capacities.

         Plaintiff alleges that in July, 2015, Omaha Police Officers (identified as “John and Jane Doe”) broke into her house with a “bogus” search warrant. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 1.) She claims that the unknown police officers searched her vagina and anus.

         Plaintiff alleges that as a result of the illegal search, she was charged and indicted for possession of a controlled substance. Also, she claims that the police officers used excessive force when they arrested her. Plaintiff requests that the court enjoin Defendants from issuing “bogus” warrants and “enjoin any prosecution of Plaintiff arising as a result of any search perpetrated” on her. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF pp. 2-3.) She also seeks an award of $1, 000, 000.00

         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 omitted).

         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).

         III. DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS

         Plaintiff has not set forth viable claims in this action. The City of Omaha may only be liable under section 1983 if its “policy” or “custom” caused a violation of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights. 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 (1978)). 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 ...


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