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Jones v. City of Lincoln

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

August 10, 2016

LAWRENCE E. JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF LINCOLN, in the State of Nebraska, and STEGMAN, Detective, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on April 21, 2016. (Filing No. 1.) Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on May 9, 2016. (Filing No. 9.) On July 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint, as well as a proposed second amended complaint (“Second Amended Complaint”). (Filing No. 14.)

         Plaintiff was previously given leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this case. (Filing No. 7.) Therefore, at this time, the court will conduct an initial review of Plaintiff’s claims to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). For purposes of conducting this review, the court will consider Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint as the operative pleading in this action.

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint (Filing No. 14) names “The City of Lincoln, in the State of Nebraska” and “Detective Stegman” as defendants. (Filing No. 14 at CM/ECF p. 2.) Stegman is named in his official and individual capacities. Plaintiff claims that at all times relevant to this suit, Stegman was a police detective with the Lincoln Police Department in Lincoln, Nebraska.

         Plaintiff, who is incarcerated in the Omaha Correctional Center, alleges that Stegman violated his constitutional rights by slandering Plaintiff. Plaintiff maintains that Stegman falsely reported that Plaintiff made certain statements to Stegman during an interview. Plaintiff claims that as a result of Stegman’s false report, Plaintiff was transferred to a “more secure prison, ” and was subsequently found guilty of misconduct. Plaintiff claims that the misconduct finding caused him to be denied parole and to suffer emotional and physical distress. Plaintiff also suggests that Stegman is prejudiced against inmates, which is why Stegman lied about Plaintiff’s interview responses.

         Plaintiff seeks to recover monetary damages.

         II. STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW

         The court is required to review prisoner and in forma pauperis complaints seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A. 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); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(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 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

         1.Claims Against the ...


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