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McCoy v. Meason

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Western Division

November 14, 2016

Daniel Keith McCoy (#111848), Plaintiff,
v.
Alison Meason, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Frederick J. Kapala Judge

         Plaintiff's application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“FIP”) [3] is denied without prejudice. Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed without prejudice. To proceed with this case, by December 14, 2016, Plaintiff must: (1) satisfy the filing fee requirement by submitting an updated IFP application or by prepaying the $400 fee, (2) submit an amended complaint in accordance with this order, and (3) provide the Court with current address information. Plaintiff's failure to comply will result in dismissal of this case. The Clerk of Court shall forward a blank IFP application and amended complaint form, along with a copy of this order, to the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office, which should forward this order to Plaintiff if his current address is known.

         STATEMENT

         Plaintiff Daniel Keith McCoy, previously confined at the Winnebago County Jail and proceeding pro se, brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action against four Winnebago County Assistant State's Attorneys and three Rockford police officers. Plaintiff alleges the following. On September 21 2015, his girlfriend called Rockford police while she was heavily intoxicated and reported a domestic battery. Officer Popielarczyk and two other Rockford officers (names unknown) responded and arrested Plaintiff, even though there were no signs of a physical altercation. Plaintiff bonded out of jail twelve days later. In March of 2016, Plaintiff was again arrested when he missed a court appearance. Plaintiff states his and his girlfriend's children were taken from their home due to a violation of a no-contact order. While incarcerated between March 22 and July 19, 2016, his charge was enhanced even though he had no prior domestic battery conviction; he was housed in segregation; and he was not allowed contact with family members. On July 19, 2016, the charge against him was dropped due to insufficient evidence (the basis of his incarceration in September of 2016 is unknown). Shortly after the charge was dropped, a Winnebago prosecutor allegedly called the Department of Children and Family Services and falsely accused Plaintiff of coercing his girlfriend not to testify.

         Currently before this Court are Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis and his complaint for initial review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons stated herein, his IFP application is denied without prejudice and his complaint is dismissed without prejudice.

         Plaintiff's Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis:

         Plaintiff initiated this suit while he was incarcerated. The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), which requires inmates to pay the full filing fee, thus applies. If a litigant is unable to prepay the filing fee, he must submit a completed IFP application so the Court can determine whether he qualifies as a pauper and assess an initial partial payment of the filing fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). If the litigant is released from incarceration after he files suit, he must submit an updated application to enable the Court to assess his ability to pay based upon his financial situation outside of prison. See Robbins v. Switzer, 104 F.3d 895, 898 (7th Cir. 1997). Winnebago County Jail records show that Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated. To proceed with this case, Plaintiff must submit another IFP application showing his ability to pay the filing fee as a non-prisoner. The Clerk of Court shall forward an IFP application form to Plaintiff. His failure to submit an updated, completed IFP application or prepay the $400 filing fee by the date stated above will result in dismissal of this case. See N.D. Ill. Local Rule 3.3(e).

         Plaintiff's Complaint:

         In addition to satisfying the filing fee requirement, Plaintiff must submit an amended complaint to proceed with this case. Under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(a), the Court is required to screen complaints filed by prisoners and litigants proceeding IFP and to dismiss the complaint, or any claim therein, if the Court determines that the complaint or claim is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 214 (2007); Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013).

         Courts screen prisoner complaints in the same manner they review ordinary Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss. See Maddox v. Love, 655 F.3d 709, 718 (7th Cir. 2011). Under Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement must “give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). Furthermore, a plaintiff's “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. Put differently, a “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         When reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, courts “accept the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true, ” Alam v. Miller Brewing Co., 709 F.3d 662, 665-66 (7th Cir. 2013), “draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of the plaintiff, ” Smith v. Dart, 803 F.3d 304, 309 (7th Cir. 2015), and construe complaints filed by pro se litigants liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). Although a pro se plaintiff's complaint is liberally construed and all reasonable inferences are viewed in his favor, if he pleads facts demonstrating he has no valid claim for relief, a court may dismiss the complaint. Atkins v. City of Chicago, 631 F.3d 823, 832 (7th Cir. 2011).

         Plaintiff does not specifically identify the claims he seeks to bring, but his allegations indicate he seeks to assert that he was falsely arrested and then maliciously prosecuted despite a lack of evidence to support the charge.

         Plaintiff's allegations that he Winnebago County Assistant State's Attorneys prosecuted him even though there was insufficient evidence seek to bring claims against parties immune from suit. Prosecutors are absolutely immune from suits for damages arising from prosecutorial actions that are “intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process.” Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 431 (1976); see also Kalina v. Fletcher, 522 U.S. 118, 130 (1997); see also Smith v. Power, 346 F.3d 740, 742 (7th Cir. 2003) (collecting cases). “[A]bsolute immunity shields prosecutors even if they act maliciously, unreasonably, without probable cause, or even on the basis of false testimony or evidence.” Smith v. Power, 346 F.3d 740, 742 (7th Cir. 2003). Plaintiff's allegations-that the defendant prosecutors should not have filed and/or pursued a charge against him and should not have enhanced the charge-seek to hold the prosecutors liable for “initiating a prosecution and . . . presenting the State's case.” Imbler, 424 U.S. at 431. Plaintiff's claims against the prosecutors are barred by absolute immunity.

         The Court notes that Plaintiff also alleges that a prosecutor contacted DCFS shortly after charges were dropped and stated that Plaintiff coerced his girlfriend not to testify. However, there are no allegations as to the effect of such conduct, and the Court sees no ...


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