United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
D. MERRYDAY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
complaint alleges that the defendants violated his civil
rights when members of the Pinellas County Sheriff's
Office both questioned him about a murder and arrested him
for driving with a suspended or revoked drivers license. An
earlier order (Doc. 8) grants Roberson leave to proceed
in forma pauperis. The Prisoner Litigation Reform
Act requires dismissal of an in forma pauperis
prisoner's case “if the allegation of poverty is
untrue” or if the case “is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).
Although the complaint is entitled to a generous
interpretation, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519
(1972) (per curiam), this pro se complaint
lacks merit under this standard.
alleges that he was questioned by Pinellas County
Sheriff's Detective Miller about a murder “that I
had zero knowledge of” and, allegedly because of his
lack of cooperation, Detective Miller arrested Roberson for
driving while his license was suspended or revoked. (Doc. 1
at 6) Roberson alleges that state prosecutors,
law enforcement officers, and law enforcement organizations
violated his rights, although the basis for a civil rights
violation remains unclear. Roberson alleges that he suffered
a “mental breakdown” but identifies no physical
injury. Roberson requests “$300 million dollars for
punitive damages, mental anguish, pain and suffering, loss of
property, marriage separation, mental and psychological
issues, and violating my constitutional rights.” (Doc.
1 at 7 and 9) Roberson fails to state a claim that he can
pursue in a civil rights action.
sues “Pinellas County Jail House, ”
“Pinellas County Court House, ” and
“Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.” First,
neither the “jail house” nor the courthouse nor
the “Sheriff's Office” is an entity
susceptible to suit. Faulkner v. Monroe Cnty.
Sheriff's Dep't, 523 Fed.Appx. 696, 700S01 (11th
Cir. 2013),  explains:
Whether a party has the capacity to be sued is determined by
the law of the state in which the district court sits.
Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d 1210, 1214-15 (11th Cir.
1992). Florida law has not established Sheriff's offices
as separate legal entities with the capacity to be sued.
Thus, the district court did not err by dismissing
Faulkner's claim against MCSO because MCSO is not a legal
entity with the capacity to be sued under Florida law.
See Fla. City Police Dep't v. Corcoran, 661
So.2d 409, 410 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1995) (noting that the
municipality, not the police department, had the power to sue
and be sued under Florida law).
sues State Attorney Bernie McCabe and Assistant State
Attorneys Michael Marr and Mark McGarry. Although certainly
unclear, Roberson's allegations against the prosecutors
appear based on each acting in the capacity of a prosecutor.
Prosecutorial immunity precludes Roberson's recovering
either compensatory or punitive damages, which relief
Roberson requests. 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 § 1983.”);
Jones v. Cannon, 174 F.3d 1271, 1281 (11th Cir.
1999) (“[A]bsolute immunity extends to a
prosecutor's <acts undertaken . . . in preparing for
the initiation of judicial proceedings or for trial, and
which occur in the course of his role as an advocate for the
State . . . .'”) (quoting Buckley v.
Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 273 (1993)). See also Van
de Kamp v. Goldstein, 555 U.S. 335, 340-43 (2009), and
Hart v. Hodges, 587 F.3d 1288, 1294-96 (11th Cir.
2009), cert. denied, 560 U.S. 953 (2010), for a
thorough review of the breadth of prosecutorial immunity. As
a consequence, Roberson cannot pursue a claim for damages
against the prosecutors.
sues Detectives Kenneth Miller and Richard Anderson. Roberson
asserts no act committed by Detective Anderson. Roberson
asserts no act committed by Detective Miller other than
questioning and arresting him, neither of which supports the
denial of a civil right. Additionally, Roberson gains no
benefit by liberally construing the civil rights complaint to
allege that Roberson was denied a constitutional right during
the state criminal proceedings because that claim would
challenge the validity of the criminal conviction. Under
Preiser v. Rodriquez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973), if a
state prisoner challenges the fact or duration of
confinement, a writ of habeas corpus is the exclusive federal
remedy, and Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87
(1994), precludes Roberson from challenging the validity of
either the conviction or the sentence (including a fine or
penalty) by a civil rights action instead of an application
for the writ of habeas corpus.
We hold that, in order to recover damages for [an] 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 determination, or
called into question by a federal court's issuance of a
writ of habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254. A claim for
damages bearing that relationship to a conviction or sentence
that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable
under § 1983. Thus, when a state prisoner seeks damages
in a § 1983 suit, the district court must consider
whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would
necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or
sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless
the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence
has already been invalidated.
Heck requires dismissal of a civil rights complaint
if a ruling in the plaintiff's favor questions either (1)
the validity of the conviction or sentence or (2) the fact or
duration of confinement. Roberson has no Section 1983 claim
unless he prevails on habeas corpus. “[A] § 1983
cause of action for damages attributable to an
unconstitutional conviction or sentence does not accrue until
the conviction or sentence has been invalidated.”
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. at 489-90.
requests “$300 million dollars for punitive damages,
mental anguish, pain and suffering, loss of property,
marriage separation, mental and psychological issues, and
violating my constitutional rights.” (Doc. 1 at 7 and
9) But without an actual physical injury, Roberson cannot
recover damages because an actual physical injury is required
under the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(e), which states, “No Federal civil action may be
brought by a prisoner confined in a jail, prison, or ...