United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
J. DAVIS, United States District Judge
Pernell Antonio Grant, initiated this action on February 15,
2018, by filing a pro se Civil Rights Complaint Form
(Doc. 1; Complaint). At the time he filed his Complaint,
Plaintiff was serving a prison sentence at Jefferson
Correctional Institution (JCI). See Complaint at 2.
Since the filing of his Complaint, Plaintiff has been
released from JCI, but was subsequently arrested in Duval
County where he is currently being held as a pretrial
detainee. In his Complaint, Plaintiff names six
Defendants: (1) Office of the State Attorney; (2) City of
Jacksonville; (3) Duval County Pretrial Detention Center; (4)
Florida Department of Corrections; (5) the State of Florida;
and (6) JCI. Id. at 1-3. Plaintiff asserts
Defendants violated his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights
related to a 2010 arrest, prosecution, and subsequent
conviction. Id. at 7-9. He seeks damages from all
Defendants. Id. at 9.
to this Court's screening obligation under the Prison
Litigation Reform Act, a district court shall dismiss a
complaint if the court determines that the action is
frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, or “seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief.”
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). With respect to
whether a complaint “fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted, ” § 1915A(b) mirrors the
language of Rule 12(b)(6), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
so courts apply the same standard in both contexts.
Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir.
1997); see also Alba v. Montford, 517 F.3d 1249,
1252 (11th Cir. 2008). “To survive a motion to dismiss,
a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted
as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “Labels and
conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action” that amount to
“naked assertions” will not do. Id.
(quotations, alteration, and citation omitted).
a complaint must “contain either direct or inferential
allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to
sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory.”
Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr. for Choice, Inc., 253 F.3d
678, 683 (11th Cir. 2001) (quotations and citations omitted).
In reviewing a pro se plaintiff's pleadings, a
court must liberally construe the plaintiff's
allegations. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520-21 (1972); Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171,
1175 (11th Cir. 2011). However, the duty of a court to
construe pro se pleadings liberally does not require
the court to serve as “de facto counsel”
for the plaintiff. Freeman v. Sec'y, Dept. of
Corr., 679 Fed.Appx. 982, 982 (11th Cir. 2017) (citing
GJR Invs., Inc. v. Cty. of Escambia, 132 F.3d 1359,
1369 (11th Cir. 1998)).
Complaint is subject to dismissal under the Court's
screening obligation. First, Plaintiff appears to challenge
the fact and length of his conviction and sentence. Indeed,
his factual allegations simply chronicle his arrest,
indictment, prosecution, conviction, sentence, and transfers
between the Duval County Pretrial Detention Center and JCI.
See Complaint at 7-8. Under “Statement of
Claim, ” Plaintiff implies he was arrested under a
warrant not supported by probable cause and charged under a
charging document not supported by witness testimony, in
violation of the Fourth Amendment, and he was deprived of his
liberty under the Fifth Amendment. Id. at 9. To the
extent Plaintiff challenges his conviction and resulting
sentence, a civil rights action is not the appropriate avenue
through which to proceed. See Bradley v. Pryor, 305
F.3d 1287, 1289 (11th Cir. 2002) (“[H]abeas corpus is
the exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the
fact or duration of his confinement.”) (citing
Preiser v. Roriguez, 411 U.S. 475
extent Plaintiff attempts to raise claims properly addressed
in a civil rights complaint, he has not stated a claim
cognizable under § 1983. To state a claim under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that “a
person” acting under the color of state law deprived
him of a right secured under the United States Constitution
or federal law. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. With
respect to five of the named Defendants, Plaintiff has named
entities that do not qualify as “persons” under
§ 1983. The Supreme Court has held that states,
including state agencies and arms of the state, are
“not persons within the meaning of § 1983.”
Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S.
58, 64, 70 (1989). The State Attorney's office, FDOC, and
JCI are each considered “arms of the state, ” and
therefore, not properly-named Defendants in Plaintiff's
Civil Rights Complaint. See Gardner v. Riska, 444
Fed.Appx. 353, 355 (11th Cir. 2011) (holding the Department
of Corrections, a state agency, was not a person under §
1983); Scheider v. Leeper, No. 3:15-CV-364-J-34JRK,
2016 WL 916557, at *3 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 10, 2016) (recognizing
the state attorney's office, as an arm of the state, may
not be sued in a civil rights claim); Hannah v. Union
Corr. Inst., No. 3:12-CV-436-J-20JBT, 2012 WL 1413163,
at *2 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 23, 2012) (dismissing a civil rights
action where the only named defendant, a correctional
institution, was a state institution operated by the
department of corrections). With respect to the Duval County
Pretrial Detention Center, Plaintiff has similarly failed to
name a Defendant amenable to suit. 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) (stating that certain
subdivisions of local or county governments, such as
sheriff's departments and police departments, generally
are not legal entities subject to suit). “A
correctional facility or the jail is not a proper defendant
in a case brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.”
Monroe v. Jail, No. 2:15-cv-729-FtM-99MRM, 2015 WL
7777521, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 3, 2015) (citing Chapter 30,
Florida Statutes); accord Mellen v. Florida, No.
3:13-cv-1233-J-34PDB, 2014 WL 5093885, at *8 (M.D. Fla. Oct.
9, 2014). Thus, the following Defendants are subject to
dismissal because they do not qualify as
“persons”: (1) Office of the State Attorney; (2)
FDOC; (3) State of Florida; (4) JCI; and (5) Duval County
Pretrial Detention Center.
the final named Defendant, the City of Jacksonville,
Plaintiff has not alleged facts sufficient to state a claim
for relief. While municipalities generally are amenable to
suit under § 1983, their liability must be based on
something other than the fact that the City employs or
supervises officials who a plaintiff alleges violated his
constitutional rights. Monell v. N.Y. City Dep't of
Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691, 694 (1978). In other
words, a claim against a municipality, such as a City, may
not be premised on a theory of supervisory liability.
Id. Rather, to proceed against a municipality, a
plaintiff must allege the existence of a policy or custom
constituting “deliberate indifference to [violation of
a] constitutional right.” Moody v. City of Delray
Bch., 609 Fed.Appx. 966, 967 (11th Cir. 2015) (quoting
McDowell v. Brown, 392 F.3d 1283, 1289 (11th Cir.
2004)) (holding the district court properly dismissed a
pro se plaintiff's civil rights complaint
against a City where she failed to allege a City-approved
custom or policy caused a violation of her constitutional
rights but rather premised her claim on a theory of
respondeat superior)). Plaintiff has failed to allege that a
policy or custom of the City of Jacksonville caused the
violation of any constitutional or federal rights.
See Complaint at 7-9.
even if Plaintiff had properly stated claims under §
1983, Plaintiff's claims arising out of conduct that
occurred more than four years prior to the filing of his
Complaint are time-barred under the applicable statute of
limitations. See Clark v. State of Ga. Pardons &
Paroles Bd., 915 F.2d 636, 640 n.2 (11th Cir. 1990)
(“The expiration of the statute of limitations . . .
warrants a dismissal as frivolous.”); see also
Burton v. City of Belle Glade, 178 F.3d 1175, 1188 (11th
Cir. 1999) (acknowledging that Florida's residual
personal injury four-year limitations periods applies in
§ 1983 actions) (citing Owens v. Okure, 488
U.S. 235, 249-50 (1989)). Plaintiff complains of a 2010
arrest and prosecution leading to a 2012 conviction.
See Complaint at 7. To the extent Plaintiff could
have stated a proper civil rights claim against appropriate
“persons, ” the statute of limitations to do so
has long since expired.
court determines that a complaint is subject to dismissal
pursuant to its screening function under § 1915A(b), it
generally should grant a pro se plaintiff leave to
amend “unless a more carefully drafted complaint could
not state a claim.” Bank v. Pitt, 928 F.2d
1108, 1112 (11th Cir. 1991), overruled in part by Wagner
v. Daewoo Heavy Indus. Am. Corp., 314 F.3d 541, 542
(11th Cir. 2002) (en banc). Where an amendment would be
futile, a district court may properly dismiss a pro
se plaintiffs Complaint without an opportunity to amend.
See Cockrell v. Sparks, 510 F.3d 1307, 1310 (11th
Cir. 2007) (“Leave to amend a complaint is futile when
the complaint as amended would still be properly dismissed or
be immediately subject to summary judgment for the
defendant.”). In light of the above, any opportunity
for Plaintiff to amend his Complaint would be futile.
case is DISMISSED without prejudice.
Clerk shall enter judgment dismissing this
case without prejudice, terminate any pending motions, and
close the file.
AND ORDERED in ...