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Robinson v. Lincoln County Court

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

September 27, 2018

RENE ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
LINCOLN COUNTY COURT, and DEBRA MCCARTHY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RICHARD G. KOPF, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff filed a Complaint on February 23, 2018. (Filing No. 1.) He has been given leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Filing No. 10.) The court now conducts an initial review of Plaintiff's Complaint to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A.

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff, a prisoner currently confined at the Lincoln Diagnostic and Evaluation Center (“DEC”), has filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against the Lincoln County Court in North Platte, Nebraska, and Debra McCarthy (“McCarthy”), the Chief Clerk of the Lincoln County Court. He alleges that on or about December 20, 2017, and January 30, 2018, he mailed “several common-law claims to [the] Clerk of Courts [of] Lincoln County and received no reply stating a mistake, nor were [his] claims time date stamped or filed and copied with one copy being returned to [him] as in the instructions for clerk of courts.” (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 5 (punctuation corrected).) Plaintiff claims McCarthy “is in dereliction of her duty, has obstructed process, and trespassed on the case.” (Id. (punctuation corrected).)

         As relief, Plaintiff requests this court order “Lincoln County Court to apologize” and “subpoena any/all professional liability reimbursement insurance plans that may cover right(s) violations [and] all records of mailing to Lincoln County Court for evidence.” (Id.) Plaintiff also asks for $200, 000 in punitive damages and $150, 000 in compensatory damages “for lost time in pursuing [his] case.” (Id. at CM/ECF p. 6.)

         II. APPLICABLE LEGAL 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 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

         A. Claims against Lincoln County Court

          Plaintiff's claims for damages and injunctive relief against the Lincoln County Court necessarily fail because “courts as entities are not vulnerable to § 1983 suits, because they are protected by state immunity under the eleventh amendment.” Harris v. Missouri Ct. of App., 787 F.2d 427, 429 (8th Cir. 1986). Moreover, a suit may be brought under § 1983 only against a “person” who acted under color of state law and a court is not a “person” within the meaning of § 1983. Id. As such, Plaintiff's claims against the Lincoln County Court must be dismissed.

         B. Claims ...


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