United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Alan Griffith, Jr., a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a
complaint. “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
citations omitted). Nevertheless, 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.
complaint, Griffith alleges that, on May 4, 2017, Officer
Jeramey Sandilla, who works for the New Chicago Police
Department, provided false statements in a probable cause
affidavit. Specifically, Officer Sandilla falsely described
the events as occurring in Lake County when they occurred in
Porter County. He also provided false details about
Griffith's driving on the night of May 2, 2017, stating
that Griffith drove off the road, drove into another
person's backyard without permission, and created a
substantial risk of bodily harm to police officers. On
October 26, 2017, Officer Sandilla submitted another probable
cause affidavit, stating that the same events occurred Porter
County. As a result, Griffith was criminally charged with two
counts of intimidation and one count of reckless driving. For
his claims, Griffith seeks money damages.
start, Griffith has attached the two probable cause
affidavits to his complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
10(c) (“A copy of a written instrument that is an
exhibit to a pleading is part of the pleadings for all
purposes.”). Contrary to Griffith's allegations,
Officer Sandilla uses road names rather than counties to
identify the locations of the events described in the
affidavit. Griffith may be referring to the county
names in the case captions on the affidavits, but these
county names function only to identify the court in which the
affidavit was filed rather than location of the events
described therein. Therefore, Griffith cannot proceed on the
allegations that Officer Sandilla falsely described the
locations of the events.
asserts a claim of malicious prosecution against the New
Chicago Police Department. “It is well established that
there is no respondeat superior liability under §
1983.” Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 622 (7th
Cir. 2010). To pursue a claim under Section 1983 against a
local government unit, a plaintiff must show that his injury
was the result of that unit's official policy or custom.
Rice ex rel. Rice v. Corr. Med. Servs., 675 F.3d
650, 675 (7th Cir. 2012). However, Griffith does not
challenge any policy or practice of the New Chicago Police
Department. Therefore, the complaint does not state a claim
against this defendant.
also asserts a claim of malicious prosecution against Officer
Sandilla. A claim of malicious prosecution may be brought
under Section 1983, but this is rarely appropriate because
“individuals do not have a federal right not to be
summoned into court and prosecuted without probable cause,
under either the Fourth Amendment or the Fourteenth
Amendment's Procedural Due Process Clause.” Ray
v. City of Chicago, 629 F.3d 660, 664 (7th Cir. 2011).
“[T]o state a viable malicious prosecution claim under
§ 1983, a plaintiff must allege a violation of a
particular constitutional right, such as the right to be free
from unlawful seizures under the Fourth Amendment, or the
right to a fair trial under the Due Process Clause.”
Welton v. Anderson, 770 F.3d 670, 673 (7th Cir.
alleges that Officer Sandilla's false statements about
his driving resulted in a criminal charge of reckless driving
and incarceration. However, the probable cause affidavit
indicates that Griffith was also incarcerated based on
charges of automobile theft and resisting law enforcement.
The affidavit further includes facts to support those
criminal charges, and Griffith does not allege that these
facts are false. Therefore, the complaint suggests that
Griffith would have been incarcerated even without the
criminal charge of reckless driving. This, in turn, suggests
that the false statements about his driving did not violate
his right to be free from unlawful seizures. Nor does
Griffith allege that the false statements about his driving
deprived him of his right to a fair trial or any other
constitutional right. As a result, the complaint does not
state a claim of malicious prosecution against Officer
the complaint does not state a valid claim, the court will
grant Griffith an opportunity to file an amended complaint.
See Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014 (7th Cir.
2013). However, Griffith should only file an amended
complaint if he can address the deficiencies set forth in
this order. If he chooses to file an amended complaint, a
copy of this court's approved form - Prisoner Complaint
(INND Rev. 8/16) - should be available upon request from the
jail law library. On the amended complaint, he must put the
cause number of this case which is on the first page of this
order, and he should organize his narrative in numbered
these reasons, the court:
(1) GRANTS Randy Alan Griffith, Jr., until February 20, 2019,
to file an amended complaint; and
(2) CAUTIONS Randy Alan Griffith, Jr., that, if he does not
respond by that deadline, this case will be dismissed without