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Hartman v. Hicks

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

June 11, 2018

JOHN R. HARTMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT HICKS, SARA SNYDER, JESSIE CANADY, DAVA DAVIS, MICHAEL RYAN, and BRIAN UPCHURCH Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Herndon Judge United States District Judge

         Plaintiff John Hartman, brings this action for deprivation of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. Plaintiff was not incarcerated at the time he filed suit, but he has been granted leave to proceed IFP. Therefore the Court will conduct a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), which provides:

Not withstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal
i. is frivolous or malicious;
ii. fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
iii. 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 Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that Canady and Snyder, in their capacities as parole agents, entered his residence on April 6, 2016 as part of a compliance check on Shantel Steffens, his estranged girlfriend. (Doc. 1, p. 2). Steffens stayed in the north bedroom of the residence with her son, while Plaintiff used the south bedroom. Id. Plaintiff refused to come out of his room when Steffens told him that Canady wanted him in the living room. Id. Canady then entered Plaintiff's room and threateningly placed his hand on his gun. Id. Plaintiff was afraid and moved to the living room. Id. Snyder was blocking the exit with her hand on her gun. Id.

         Both Plaintiff and his mother repeatedly told Canady that Steffens did not stay in the south bedroom and that the agents did not have their permission to search it. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Plaintiff asked Canady why he was being detained. Id. Canady told Plaintiff he wasn't being detained. Id. Plaintiff responded that he was going to get dressed and go to work if he wasn't being detained. Id. Canady then reached out and touched Plaintiff, and then falsely reported to the police that Plaintiff had assaulted him. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4). Canady then followed Plaintiff into the south bedroom and began searching it. (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff left the residence, but just then deputies Davis and Vaughn arrived. Id. Davis entered the residence without Plaintiff's permission, while Vaughn stayed outside with Plaintiff. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that Upchurch knew his subordinates conducted an illegal search, but failed to act. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Davis allegedly obtained a search warrant, despite knowing that illegally obtained items were used to justify it. (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6). Hicks conducted the illegal search. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         Discussion

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into 2 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 following claims survive threshold review:

Count 1 - Defendants Davis, Hicks, Canady, Snyder, and Ryan violated Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights to be free of unreasonable searches when they searched ...

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