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Dabbs v. Peoria County Illinois

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division

December 21, 2016

GREGORY DABBS, Plaintiff,
v.
PEORIA COUNTY ILLINOIS, SCOTT SORRELL, Peoria County Administrator, individually and official capacity & MICHAEL A BROOKS, individually and official capacity Defendants.

          ORDER & OPINION

          JOE BILLY McDADE United States Senior District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Gregory Dabb's Complaint (Doc. 1), Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 4), and Motion to Request Counsel (Doc. 3). Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis is granted. Because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, his complaint must be screened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Because Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, Plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 1) is dismissed. Lastly, Plaintiff's Motion to Request Counsel is denied because Plaintiff has not attempted to find his own representation without court assistance.

         Background

         Plaintiff's Complaint arises from a denial of state veterans benefits. Plaintiff alleges that under state law, veterans are entitled to assistance for rent and utilities. (Doc. 1 at 6). In October of 2015, Plaintiff alleges he gave the Peoria County Veterans Assistance Office an Ameren[1] bill for payment, which was about $84. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Brooks denied the bill, which resulted in Plaintiff being without power for about five weeks. Id. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Brooks lied in his letter explaining the denial of the bill. Id. In December, Plaintiff then alleges that he met with Defendant Sorrell, Defendant Brook's supervisor, and showed him the paperwork. Id. Plaintiff alleges that a day and a half after the meeting, Plaintiff was arrested by Peoria County Police for disorderly conduct. Id. Plaintiff alleges that the case was maintained until August 6, 2016, when it was dropped. Id.

         On November 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed this suit against the County of Peoria; Scott Sorrell, the Peoria County Administrator; and Michael Brooks, an employee of the Peoria County Veterans Assistance Commission. Id. at 2-3. Although Plaintiff brings several claims; he does not identify which claims he seeks to bring against which defendants. Based on the facts given, the Court infers that Plaintiff seeks to bring the following claims. First, Plaintiff seeks to bring a § 1983 claim against all defendants for the denial of his state veterans benefits. Id. Second, Plaintiff seeks to bring a § 1983 claim against Defendant Sorrell for unlawful arrest. Id. Third, Plaintiff seeks to bring a claim against Defendant Peoria County for a violation of Plaintiff's right to a speedy trial. Id.

         I. Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis

         The Court grants Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis. A court may allow a civil suit to proceed without the prepayment of fees when a plaintiff submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all their assets, and shows that they are unable to pay filing fees or provide security for the payment of a filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). The affidavit must “state the nature of the action . . . and affiant's belief that the person is entitled to redress.” Id. However, the “privilege to proceed without [paying] costs and fees is reserved to the many truly impoverished litigants who, within a district court's discretion, would remain without legal remedy if such privileges were not afforded to them.” Brewster v. North Am. Van Lines, Inc., 461 F.2d 649, 651 (7th Cir. 1972).

         In support of his Motion, Plaintiff states under penalty of perjury that his housing and utilities are provided for by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, but that aside from that he has no income. (Doc. 4). Plaintiff also states that he has no current expenses, but that during the time in question he was responsible for utilities. Id. Based on Plaintiff's submission, the Court concludes that he is entitled to proceed in forma pauperis.

         II. 28 U.S.C. § 1915 Screening

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court must screen complaints proceeding in forma pauperis. The court must then dismiss a complaint if it 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Because Plaintiff alleges several different claims, the claims will be screened separately. All of Plaintiff's claims are dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         When evaluating whether a pro se plaintiff has stated a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B) de novo, courts use the same standards as that which apply to Rule 12(b)(6) dismissals. Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013). Therefore, the court will take “all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and view[] them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. (citing Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011). A plaintiff need only give “‘fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” EEOC v. Concentra Health Serv., Inc., 496 F.3d 733, 776-77 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Furthermore, a pro se complaint is to be construed liberally and held to “less stringent standards than a formal pleadings by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         III. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claims

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by denying him state veterans benefits, unlawfully arresting him, and violating his right to a speedy trial. Section 1983 states that:

“[E]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by ...

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