United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael Wright, a pro se prisoner, filed a
complaint. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must
review the merits of 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. “A
document filed pro se is to be liberally construed,
and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded,
must be held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quotation marks and
to the allegations contained in the complaint, in February
2018, Elkhart City Police Officer J. Taelman, along with
another unidentified officer, arrived at Wright's home in
connection with a reported home invasion. Wright explained to
the officers that Matthew Thompson, an individual with whom
he has had problems with in the past, broke into his home.
Nevertheless, charges were not pressed against Matthew
Thompson, and he was never arrested.
sues Officer Taelman and the unnamed officer for not
arresting or bringing charges against Thompson. However, that
allegation does not state a claim because a private citizen,
such as Wright, lacks a judicially cognizable interest in the
prosecution or nonprosecution of another. Linda R.S. v.
Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 619 (1973).
was later contacted by Elkhart City Police Detective Jason
Runyan. Detective Runyan was assigned to investigate
accusations Matthew Thompson made against Wright. After an
investigation, an arrest warrant was issued and Elkhart City
Police officers arrested Wright. Though it is clear that
Wright does not believe he should have been arrested based on
Thompson's accusations, it is unclear what, exactly,
Wright is alleging. It may be that Wright is alleging he was
falsely arrested by Elkhart City Police officers. However,
the existence of probable cause is an “absolute
bar” to a Fourth Amendment false arrest claim.
McBride v. Grice, 576 F.3d 703, 707 (7th Cir. 2009).
An officer has probable cause to arrest “if a
reasonable person would believe, based on the facts and
circumstances known at the time, that a crime had been
committed.” Id. at 707. Here, Wright concedes
that officers arrested him pursuant to a warrant. 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 for false arrest.
also be that Wright is alleging that he was wrongfully
arrested pursuant to that warrant. That is to say, Wright may
believe that the defendants have caused the arrest warrant to
be issued knowing that he was not the proper person to be
accused. This is more akin to a claim for malicious
prosecution. Snodderly v. R.U.F.F. Drug Enforcement Task
Force, 239 F.3d 892, 899-900 (7th Cir. 2001). Wright has
not stated a plausible claim for malicious prosecution
either. This is because any such claim would not accrue
unless and until the criminal proceedings have terminated in
Wright's favor (i.e., acquittal or dismissal of the
charges). Id. Because his state criminal case is
still pending, any such claim is not yet ripe. Therefore this
claim must be dismissed. If Wright is acquitted of the
criminal charges or they are otherwise dismissed at some time
in the future, he may file a new lawsuit reasserting his
malicious prosecution claim. But for now, Wright has no such
later e-mailed Elkhart County Prosecutor Vicki Becker to
complain that he was unfairly charged with a crime, while
Thompson was never charged. No one responded to Wright. He
sues Becker for not responding to his complaints. However,
Becker is entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity and
cannot be sued for damages in connection with her decision
whether to initiate charges. Imbler v. Pachtman, 424
U.S. 409, 431 (1976) (“[I]n initiating a prosecution
and in presenting the State's case, the prosecutor is
immune from a civil suit for damages under §
his arrest, Wright was taken to the Elkhart County Jail.
There, Wright spoke to jail staff about how to get the
Elkhart City Police and prosecutors to pursue charges against
Thompson. Correctional Officer A. Montandon advised him to
write a letter to the City of Elkhart. Correctional
Investigator Mock suggested he contact the Elkhart City
Policy. Investigator Harvey told him to contact Detective
Runyan. Wright did each of these things and none resulted in
charges being brought against Thompson. Wright sues Officer
Montandon, and Investigators Mock and Harvey for not
successfully helping him pursue charges against Thompson.
However, as explained above, Wright has no constitutional
right to have Thompson charged. Nevertheless,
“[s]ection 1983 does not establish a system of
vicarious responsibility” and “public employees
are responsible for their own misdeeds but not for anyone
else's.” Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592,
593 (7th Cir. 2009). The simple fact that Wright complained
to these three individuals about the Elkhart Police
Department's actions is insufficient to trigger
liability. Id. at 595. Therefore, Officer Montandon,
Investigator Mock and Investigator Harvey will be dismissed.
it is usually necessary to permit a plaintiff the opportunity
to file an amended complaint when a case is dismissed sua
sponte, see Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014 (7th
Cir. 2013), that is unnecessary where the amendment would be
futile. Hukic v. Aurora Loan Servs., 588 F.3d 420,
432 (7th Cir. 2009) (“[C]ourts have broad discretion to
deny leave to amend where . . . the amendment would be
futile.”). Such is the case here.
these reasons, Wrights's complaint is DISMISSED pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § ...