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Gray v. City of Saint Paul

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

September 1, 2016

CITY OF SAINT PAUL, et al., Defendants.


          Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter on June 30, 2016. (Filing No. 1.) Plaintiff, who has been given leave to proceed in forma pauperis, filed a supplement to his Complaint on July 22, 2016. (Filing No. 6.) The court now conducts an initial review of the Complaint and supplement (collectively referred to herein as “Complaint”) to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).


         Plaintiff's Complaint is rambling and extremely difficult to decipher. Plaintiff names a host of defendants, including the State of Nebraska, State of Iowa, and State of Minnesota. Plaintiff also names several cities, counties, correctional facilities, police officers, and other individuals as defendants.

         Plaintiff's Complaint includes wide-ranging allegations, including, but not limited to, claims of unlawful search and seizure, assault, theft, slander, unconstitutional conditions of confinement, interference with religious beliefs, and copy-right infringement.


         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).


         The Complaint contains a variety of claims which seemingly arise from different incidents. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20 states that multiple defendants may be joined in the same action only if “any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2)(A) (emphasis added). In addition, there must be a “question of law or fact common to all defendants” in the action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2)(B). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21, the proper remedy for improper joinder of parties is for the court to “drop a party” or “sever any claim against a party.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 21. The court may do so “[o]n motion or on its own.” Id.

         Plaintiff's claims arise out of multiple, unrelated events. Therefore, Plaintiff will be required to file an amended complaint that sets forth only related claims that stem from the same basic event or occurrence. Plaintiff is warned that upon screening the amended complaint, the court will consider whether unrelated claims should be severed. If Plaintiff's amended complaint sets forth unrelated claims, and the court decides severance is appropriate, Plaintiff will be required to prosecute unrelated claims in separate actions and could be required to pay a separate filing fee for each separate action.

         Plaintiff is further advised that the court questions whether it has personal jurisdiction over multiple defendants who are located outside the State of Nebraska. Plaintiff should keep ...

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