United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
CHANSE T. STARR, Plaintiff,
MELAINE CORK, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
A. BRADY JUDGE
T. Starr, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against two Allen County
probation officers, the Allen County Probation Department,
and the Commissioners of Allen County after his probation was
revoked. (Compl., ECF No. 1.)
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review the
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. The Court applies the same standard
as when deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Lagerstrom v. Kingston,
463 F.3d 621, 624 (7th Cir. 2006). To survive dismissal, a
complaint must state a claim for relief that is plausible on
its face. Bissessur v. Indiana Univ. Bd. of Trs.,
581 F.3d 599, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2009). “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 misconduct alleged.”
Id. at 603. Nevertheless, a pro se
complaint must be liberally construed “however
inartfully pleaded.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
alleges that, on March 14, 2012, he was sentenced to a term
of incarceration to be followed by three years of probation.
He was released on June 9, 2014, and his term of probation
therefore should have ended on June 9, 2017. Yet, in
September 2017, Starr was charged with public intoxication
and Officer Melanie Cork and Officer April Winfield filed a
report with the court indicating that Starr had violated his
probation. The court revoked Starr's probation and
sentenced him to four years of incarceration and an
additional two years of probation. Starr sues the Defendants
for money damages.
claims cannot proceed for several reasons. As an initial
matter, Starr cannot proceed against the Allen County
Probation Department because there is no general
respondeat superior liability under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, and an employer cannot be held liable simply because it
employed the individuals involved in this case. Chavez v.
Ill. State Police, 251 F.3d 612, 651 (7th Cir. 2001).
it is unclear why Starr has included the Commissioners of
Allen County in the caption of this case, as he does not
explain how they caused his probation to be revoked in the
body of his complaint. In fact, it is not entirely clear that
Starr intended to include the Commissioners of Allen County
as a defendant in this action. What is clear is that he has
not alleged facts that state a claim against them.
Starr has not stated a plausible constitutional claim against
Officer Cork or Officer Winfield. “In order to state a
claim under [42 U.S.C.] § 1983 a plaintiff must allege:
(1) that defendants deprived him of a federal constitutional
right; and (2) that the defendants acted under color of state
law.” Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th
Cir. 2006). While Starr generally complains that Officer Cork
and Officer Winfield did not perform their jobs as expected,
he does not identify any specific federal constitutional
right that their actions violated. Nor do these allegations
call to mind the violation of any such right. And, even if
they did, the most Starr alleges is that the Defendants'
conduct was negligent. Mere negligence on the part of a
government official, however, does not violate the
Constitution. Pierson v. Hartley, 391 F.3d 898, 902
(7th Cir. 2004). Thus, as plead, the complaint does not
allege any plausible constitutional claim.
to the extent there is a plausible constitutional claim in
the complaint, it would be barred by Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In Heck, the
Supreme Court held:
[T]o recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional
conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by
actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or
sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the
conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal,
expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state
tribunal authorized to make such a determination, or called
into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of
Id. at 486-87. In other words, a § 1983 claim
is not cognizable when “a judgment in favor of the
plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his
conviction or sentence . . . unless the plaintiff can
demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been
invalidated.” Id. at 487. Thus, Starr cannot
proceed under § 1983 until he shows that his probation
revocation and resulting incarceration have been invalidated.
See, e.g., Antonelli v. Foster,
104 F.3d 899, 901 (7th Cir. 2001) (recognizing that
Heck applies to a civil rights suit premised on the
invalidity of confinement pursuant to parole revocation).
Here, although Starr claims that his term of probation had
already expired and was therefore wrongfully revoked, there
is no indication from the complaint that his probation
revocation has been vacated or that his resulting
incarceration has otherwise been invalidated. Nor is it
plausible to arrive at such a conclusion as Starr is still
incarcerated. Unless and until that occurs, he cannot seek
damages for any alleged wrongful incarceration. Because it
appears implausible that Starr's probation revocation or
resulting imprisonment has been invalidated, the complaint
does not state a claim.
has sought a restraining order against the defendants, but
because his complaint does not state a claim, that motion
must be denied.
Starr's complaint does not state a claim, if his
probation revocation and resulting imprisonment have been set
aside, he needs to file an amended complaint providing that
additional information and addressing the other deficiencies
noted in this Order. See Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722
F.3d 1014 (7th Cir. 2013).
these reasons, the Court:
(1) DENIES Chanse T. Starr's Motion for Protective