United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
LARRY D. BEST, JR., Plaintiff,
NATHAN SPRINGER, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
LOZANO, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
matter is before the Court on the “Verified Civil
Complaint and Jury Demand, ” filed by Larry D. Best,
Jr., a pro se prisoner, on August 25, 2016. (DE #1.)
For the reasons set forth below, the Court: (1) DISMISSES
this complaint WITHOUT PREJUDICE; (2) GRANTS Larry D. Best,
Jr. until December 6, 2016, to file an amended complaint; and
(3) CAUTIONS Larry D. Best, Jr., that if he does not respond
by that deadline, this case will be dismissed.
Larry D. Best, Jr., was convicted of one count of dealing
methamphetamine and one count of conspiracy to deal
methamphetamine in the Jay Circuit Court. (DE #1 at 8.) Best
alleges City of Portland Police Officers, Nathan Springer and
Judson Wickey, withheld exculpatory evidence concerning
another suspect who may have been guilty of the crime for
which Best was convicted. This, Best claims, denied him due
process during his criminal trial. Best brings both state and
federal claims against Officer Springer and Officer Wickey
for their actions, and he also brings suit against the City
of Portland, Indiana, as their employer.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must review a prisoner
complaint and dismiss it if the action is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief. Courts apply the same standard under
§ 1915A as when addressing a motion to dismiss under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Lagerstrom v.
Kingston, 463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). Under
federal pleading standards,
a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted
as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 672 (2009)
(quotation marks and internal citations omitted).
Furthermore, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of
the cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements,
do not suffice.” Id. at 678. To survive
dismissal, the plaintiff “must do better than putting a
few words on paper that, in the hands of an imaginative
reader, might suggest that something has happened to
her that might be redressed by the law.”
Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th
Cir. 2010) (emphasis in original). To state a constitutional
claim, the plaintiff must allege: (1) that the defendant
deprived him of a federal constitutional right; and (2) that
the defendant acted under color of state or federal law.
See Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal
Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971); Savory v.
Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th Cir. 2006).
his federal claims, Best alleges that he was denied due
process during his trial because exculpatory evidence was
withheld by police officers. This claim is barred by Heck
v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994), because it
rests on a presumption that the charges against him are
invalid. Best cannot pursue a claim for damages here unless
and until the state criminal charges are terminated in his
favor. Id. at 486-87; see also Snodderly v.
R.U.F.F. Drug Enforcement Task Force, 239 F.3d 892, 898
n.8 (7th Cir. 2001) (“[W]e have interpreted
Heck as barring damage claims which, if successful,
would necessarily imply the invalidity of a potential
conviction on a pending criminal charge.”). Here, there
is no indication from the complaint that Best's
conviction has been vacated or otherwise invalidated. To the
contrary, it is apparent that he is still incarcerated
pursuant to that conviction. Unless his conviction is vacated
or otherwise invalidated, he cannot seek damages for an
alleged wrongful conviction or improper sentence.
Best has not yet stated a plausible federal claim, the court
declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his
remaining state law claims at this time. 28 U.S.C. §
1367(c)(3); Capeheart v. Terrell, 695 F.3d 681, 686
(7th Cir. 2012). He may pursue those claims in state court,
if he so chooses.
on this complaint, it would be implausible for the court to
conclude that he was not now being held on this conviction.
Thus, Best may not proceed in this court on his claims at
this time. Nevertheless, if his conviction has been set aside
somehow, he needs to file an amended complaint providing that
additional information. See Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722
F.3d 1014 (7th Cir. 2013).
reasons set forth above, the court: (1) DISMISSES this
complaint WITHOUT PREJUDICE; (2) GRANTS Larry D. Best, Jr.
until December 6, 2016, to file an amended complaint; and (3)
CAUTIONS Larry D. Best, Jr., that if ...