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Comstock v. Owens

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

June 17, 2019

JESSICA AARON COMSTOCK, Plaintiff,
v.
ANGELA OWENS, DRAKE MADDIX, J. MATTHEW BUSH, TOBY COMBEST, VELTON Officer, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS, SCREENING AND DISMISSING COMPLAINT, AND DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO SHOW CAUSE

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

          Plaintiff Jessica Aaron Comstock is a prisoner in the Bartholomew County Jail in Columbus, Indiana. Ms. Comstock filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against five Columbus police officers on June 13, 2019. The Court makes the following rulings.

         I. Motion For Leave To Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Ms. Comstock's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, dkt. [2], is denied without prejudice. The motion does not comply with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) which requires the attachment of a certified copy of the prisoner's inmate trust account financial transactions for the six-month period preceding the filing of the lawsuit. Ms. Comstock shall file another motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, documented with the required attachment, or pay the $400 filing fee to the clerk of the district court, no later than July 19, 2019.

         II. Screening Standard

         Because Ms. Comstock is a “prisoner” as defined by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(c), this Court has an obligation under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) to screen her complaint before service on defendants.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim for relief, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. In determining whether the complaint states a claim, the Court applies the same standard as when addressing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Cesal v. Moats, 851 F.3d 714, 720 (7th Cir. 2017). To survive dismissal,

[the] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for 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 misconduct alleged.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Pro se complaints such as that filed by Ms. Comstock are construed liberally and held to “a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Cesal, 851 F.3d at 720.

         III. The Complaint

         Ms. Comstock names five officers of the Columbus Police Department as defendants: Angela Owens, Drake Maddix, J. Matthew Bush, Toby Combest, and Officer Velton. She alleges that on May 2, 2019, she was stopped by police in Columbus for traffic offenses. Officers Owens and Velton, and “possibly” Officer Maddix, searched her without a warrant at the scene of the arrest, pulling her clothes down and exposing Ms. Comstock's breasts and vagina. Officer Owens ordered Ms. Comstock to remove a bag she saw protruding from Ms. Comstock's vagina, and alleges it contained thirty-four grams of methamphetamine. Dkt. 1, pp. 3-4. Her car was impounded, searched, and her phone seized. Ms. Comstock alleges she was charged with “everything found inside the car” even though the car was not hers.

         Ms. Comstock alleges violations of the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. She seeks compensatory damages and equitable relief.

         IV. Analysis

         Liberally construing the complaint, Ms. Comstock is asserting claims for unlawful search and seizure and false arrest. She asserts sufficient facts to reflect that she is currently in jail awaiting a disposition of criminal charges connected with the allegations in her complaint. The Court takes judicial notice of the Indiana state court's online docket records. See Fed. R. Evid. 201. The docket indicates that on May 3, 2019, Ms. Comstock was charged in Bartholomew County Superior Court 1, case number ...


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