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Webb v. Webb

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 17, 2017

JAMES R. WEBB, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER WEBB, MURPHYSBORO CHIEF OF POLICE, and FOUR UNKNOWN OFFICERS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT United States District Judge

         At the time of filing, Plaintiff James Webb was an inmate in Jackson County Jail. However, Plaintiff presently resides at the Alton Mental Health Center. Plaintiff brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's claim relates to an incident involving the Murphysboro Police Department in 2014, before Plaintiff was an inmate in Jackson County Jail. Plaintiff seeks removal from probation, monetary damages, and declarative relief.

         BACKGROUND

         On December 12, 2016, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed the instant action. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff alleged that in December 2014, he was the victim of excessive force. In connection with his excessive force claim, Plaintiff named the Murphysboro Police Department. A police department, however, is not a suable entity apart from the city which operates it. See West By and Through Norris v. Waymire, 114 F.3d 646, 646-47 (7th Cir. 1997). Further, a municipality may only be sued in a civil rights action if the constitutional deprivations were the result of an official policy, custom, or practice of the municipality. Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978); see also Pourghoraishi v. Flying J, Inc., 449 F.3d 751, 765 (7th Cir.2006).

         Accordingly, the Court dismissed the original Complaint without prejudice and granted leave to amend. (Doc. 11). The Order of Dismissal directed Plaintiff to sue an appropriate legal entity or an individual or individuals who caused or participated in the alleged constitutional deprivation. Id. On April 26, 2017, Plaintiff timely filed a First Amended Complaint. (Doc. 12).

         Merits Review

         The First Amended Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         An action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross “the line between possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The First Amended Complaint

         According to the First Amended Complaint, sometime in 2014, Plaintiff and his girlfriend became locked out of the apartment they were leasing. (Doc. 12, p. 5). Plaintiff somehow gained entry into the apartment and a neighbor called the police. Id. Police officers arrived on the scene and knocked on the door. Id. When Plaintiff answered the door, the chief of police grabbed him and threw him against a wall, stating: “Why are you breaking in?” Id. Plaintiff indicated that he was not breaking in. Id. He stated that he leased the apartment and lived there. Id. At that point, “they” shook Plaintiff and pushed him down the stairs. Id. Plaintiff rolled to the bottom of the stairs. Id. When Plaintiff landed on the bottom of the stairs, Webb and the Chief of Police started tazing Plaintiff. Id. Either Webb or the Chief of Police tazed Plaintiff in the back of the head. Id. Plaintiff tried to get away but “they” all kept ...


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