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Carlyle v. Roth

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 5, 2018

DONALD G. CARLYLE, # N-77711, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Donald Carlyle, currently incarcerated at Robinson Correctional Center, [1] filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on November 15, 2017. Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) was dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. (Doc. 11). He was given leave to file a First Amended Complaint, which he did on January 11, 2018. (Doc. 14). In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff claims that Defendants caused him to be wrongfully arrested and defamed his character when they failed to notify Calhoun County Courts that his debts had been sold. Id. The First Amended Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Under § 1915A, the Court is required to screen prisoner complaints to filter out non-meritorious claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss any portion of the complaint that is legally frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or asks for money damages from a defendant who by law is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         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 “no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.” 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. Conversely, a complaint is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the Court is obligated to accept factual allegations as true, see Smith v. Peters, 631 F.3d 418, 419 (7th Cir. 2011), some factual allegations may be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice of a plaintiff's claim. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). Additionally, Courts “should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements.” Id. At the same time, however, the factual allegations of a pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d 742, 751 (7th Cir. 2011).

         After fully considering the allegations in Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, the Court concludes that this action is subject to summary dismissal.

         The First Amended Complaint

         In his First Amended Complaint (Doc. 14), Plaintiff makes the following allegations: Calhoun County sold Plaintiff's fines and court costs to a collection agency. (Doc. 14, p. 5). The County Treasurer, Lisa Roth, collected the debt, but “was negligent in contacting” Plaintiff to tell him his debt was sold and did not contact the Calhoun County Courts to notify them that Plaintiff's debt was collected and that his warrant should be lifted. Id. This resulted in Plaintiff's arrest. Id. Plaintiff was “made to bond out” for $250 and lost his job due to Roth or Calhoun County's failure to notify the Calhoun County Courts that they sold Plaintiff's debt. Id.

         Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from the defendants. (Doc. 14, p. 7).

         Merits Review Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         Based on the allegations of the First Amended Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into the following counts. The parties and the Court will use these designations in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of these counts does not constitute an opinion as to their merit. Any other claim that is mentioned in the First Amended Complaint but not addressed in this Order should be considered dismissed without prejudice.

Count 1:Fourth Amendment claim for false/wrongful arrest, where Plaintiff no longer owed a debt for fines and court costs because Calhoun County sold its debt to a collection agency;
Count 2:Eighth Amendment claim for cruel and unusual punishment based on Plaintiff's false/wrongful arrest, resulting in him losing his job and paying $250 to bond out.
Count 3:State tort claim for defamation of character in connection with Plaintiff's ...

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