United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
DEGUILIO, United States District Court Judge
Hickey, a pro se prisoner, filed a complaint arising
from his October 21, 2016, arrest. ECF 1. Pursuant 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).
review, his complaint is unduly vague and does not adequately
set forth his claims. It can be discerned that Hickey's
claims arise from being arrested by Officer Chad King based
on an expired warrant. Hickey alleges that the warrant should
not have appeared active in the arresting officer's
database. However, Hickey does not allege that the officer
knew or had any reason to know that the warrant was not valid
at the time of the arrest. See Juris v. McGowan. 957
F.2d 345, 350, (7th Cir. 1992) (“Generally, a person
arrested pursuant to a facially valid warrant cannot prevail
in a § 1983 suit for false arrest; this is so even if
the arrest warrant is later determined to have an inadequate
factual foundation.”). Thus, he has not plausibly
alleged a claim against Officer King for false arrest.
also complains that Officer King twisted his arm during the
arrest. He may be alleging that King used excessive force.
The “core requirement” for an excessive force
claim is that the defendant “used force not in a
good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, but
maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.”
Hendrickson v. Cooper, 589 F.3d 887, 890 (7th Cir.
2009) (citation omitted). Several factors guide the inquiry
of whether an officer's use of force was legitimate or
malicious, including the need for an application of force,
the amount of force used, and the extent of the injury
court is unable to weigh these factors here due to the gaps
in Hickey's account. He does not explain enough detail of
what transpired between him and Officer King that led to the
officer's use of force. He does not address whether the
use of force was legitimate or whether there was a need for
that application of force. At this point, Hickey has simply
alleged that Officer King twisted his arm at some point
during the arrest. Without more information about the
circumstances surrounding this interaction, he has not stated
a plausible excessive force claim.
Hickey brings suit against Sheriff Bill Dooland as Officer
King's supervisor. But there is no general respondeat
superior liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. George v.
Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 609 (7th Cir. 2007). Therefore, he
has not stated a claim against the Sheriff.
Hickey sues the state judge and two prosecutors who were
involved in his state criminal case. Hickey blames them for
not cancelling his arrest warrant. These claims cannot
proceed. The judge and prosecutors are entitled to immunity
for their actions taken in Hickey's criminal case, even
if Hickey believes they acted improperly. “A judge has
absolute immunity for any judicial actions unless the judge
acted in the absence of all jurisdiction.” Polzin
v. Gage, 636 F.3d 834, 838 (7th Cir. 2011). “A
judge will not be deprived of immunity because the action he
took was in error, was done maliciously, or was in excess of
his authority; rather, he will be subject to liability only
when he has acted in the clear absence of all
jurisdiction.” Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S.
349, 356-57 (1978) (quotation marks, footnote, and citation
omitted). “In initiating a prosecution and in
presenting the State's case, the prosecutor is immune
from a civil suit for damages under § 1983.”
Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 431 (1976).
See also Smith v. Power, 346 F.3d 740, 742 (7th Cir.
2003) (“Absolute immunity shields prosecutors even if
they act maliciously, unreasonably, without probable cause,
or even on the basis of false testimony or evidence.”
(quotation marks and citation omitted)). This immunity
extends to applying for and cancelling an arrest warrant,
because it is part of the prosecutor's role as advocate.
Thomas v. City of Peoria, 580 F.3d 633 (7th Cir.
2009) (distinguishing a prosecutor's role in filing
affidavits in support of an arrest warrant from applying for
an arrest warrant).
Hickey alleges Vicki Cooley, the Starke County Clerk,
“did not follow through with cancelling
warrants.” ECF 1 at 3. Hickey does not allege that
Cooley refused to cancel his outstanding warrant. He does not
even allege that Cooley had any personal knowledge of the
warrant. Instead, he alleges only that the warrant should
have been cancelled and Cooley, as the elected official in
charge of the office, did not do it. However,
“[s]ection 1983 claims cannot be founded on
negligence.” Loubser v. Thacker, 440 F.3d 439,
442 (7th Cir. 2006). The complaint does not allege, nor are
there facts which would allow the court to plausibly infer,
that she intentionally prevented the cancellation of the
warrant. Thus, the complaint does not state a constitutional
claim against Cooley.
Hickey alleges claims against “John & Jane Doe(s)
whom might be at fault at a later date who are at this time
unknown.” ECF 1 at 3. However, these unnamed defendants
must be dismissed because “it is pointless to include
lists of anonymous defendants in federal court; this type of
placeholder does not open the door to relation back under
Fed. R. Civ. P . 15, nor can it otherwise help the
plaintiff.” Wudtke v. Davel, 128 F.3d 1057,
1060 (7th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted).
Hickey names Phil Clerry, Assistant Commander of the Starke
County Jail, as a defendant. However, it is unclear why he
did so as his name does not appear anywhere in the body of
the complaint. Thus, Hickey has not plausibly alleged any
claims against Clerry.
the complaint does not state a claim against any defendant,
Hickey will be afforded an opportunity to file an amended
complaint if he can cure the deficiencies noted above.
Luevano v. WalMart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014,
1022-23, 1025 (7th Cir. 2013). In any amended complaint, he
should explain in his own words what happened, when it
happened, where it happened, who was ...