United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
TERRELL E. BATTLE, Plaintiff,
JESSICA LYNN GARCIA, Defendant.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
MORALES HOWARD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Terrell Battle, a pretrial detainee at the Jacksonville
Pretrial Detention Center, initiated this action on August 7,
2019, by filing a pro se Civil Rights Complaint (Complaint;
Doc. 1) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Battle names Jessica
Garcia, an Assistant State Attorney prosecuting him in an
ongoing criminal case, as the sole Defendant. Although not a
model of clarity, in his Complaint, Battle asserts he has
been unlawfully detained since July 20, 2015, denied his due
process and equal protection rights, denied the right to
confront his accuser, falsely imprisoned, and maliciously
prosecuted because Garcia filed an Information charging
Battle with undisclosed crimes but failed to produce for
Battle's review a copy of the sworn statement from a
material witness Garcia relied on in charging Battle in the
Information. Complaint at 4-5. As relief, Battle requests
compensatory and punitive damages. Id. at 5.
Prison Litigation Reform Act requires the Court to dismiss
this case at any time 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. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). Additionally, the Court
must read Plaintiff's pro se allegations in a liberal
fashion. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972).
claim is frivolous if it is without arguable merit either in
law or fact." Bilal v. Driver, 251 F.3d 1346,
1349 (11th Cir. 2001) (citing Battle v. Central State
Hosp., 898 F.2d 126, 129 (11th Cir. 1990)). A complaint
filed in forma pauperis which fails to state a claim under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is not automatically
frivolous. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328
(1989). Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) dismissals should only be
ordered when the legal theories are "indisputably
meritless," id. at 327, or when the claims rely
on factual allegations which are "clearly
baseless." Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32
(1992). "Frivolous claims include claims 'describing
fantastic or delusional scenarios, claims with which federal
district judges are all too familiar.'"
Bilal, 251 F.3d at 1349 (quoting Neitzke,
490 U.S. at 328). Additionally, a claim may be dismissed as
frivolous when it appears that a plaintiff has little or no
chance of success. Id.
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege that (1) the defendant deprived him or her of a right
secured under the United States Constitution or federal law,
and (2) such deprivation occurred under color of state law.
Salvato v. Miley, 790 F.3d 1286, 1295 (11th Cir.
2015); Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171, 1175 (11th
Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (citation omitted); Richardson v.
Johnson, 598 F.3d 734, 737 (11th Cir. 2010) (per curiam)
(citations omitted). Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit
"'requires proof of an affirmative causal connection
between the official's acts or omissions and the alleged
constitutional deprivation' in § 1983 cases."
Rodriguez v. Sec'y, Dep't of Corr., 508 F.3d
611, 625 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Zatler v.
Wainwright, 802 F.2d 397, 401 (11th Cir. 1986)). More
than conclusory and vague allegations are required to state a
cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See L.S.T.,
Inc., v. Crow, 49 F.3d 679, 684 (11th Cir. 1995) (per
curiam); Fullman v. Graddick, 739 F.2d 553, 556-57
(11th Cir. 1984). As such, "'conclusory allegations,
unwarranted deductions of facts, or legal conclusions
masquerading as facts will not prevent dismissal.'"
Rehberger v. Henry Cty., Ga., 577 Fed.Appx. 937, 938
(11th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (citation omitted). In the
absence of well-pled facts suggesting a federal
constitutional deprivation or violation of a federal right,
Battle cannot sustain a cause of action against the
§ 1983 malicious prosecution claim requires a plaintiff
to prove “a violation of his Fourth Amendment right to
be free from unreasonable seizures, as well as the elements
of the common law tort of malicious prosecution.”
Zargari v. United States, 658 Fed.Appx. 501, 506
(11th Cir. 2016). The essential elements of a Florida common
law malicious prosecution claim include:
(1) an original criminal or civil judicial proceeding against
the present plaintiff was commenced or continued; (2) the
present defendant was the legal cause of the original
proceeding against the present plaintiff as the defendant in
the original proceeding; (3) the termination of the original
proceeding constituted a bona fide termination of that
proceeding in favor of the present plaintiff; (4) there was
an absence of probable cause for the original proceeding; (5)
there was malice on the part of the present defendant; and
(6) the plaintiff suffered damage as a result of the original
Id. at 506 n.2 (quoting Alamo Rent-A-Car v.
Mancusi, 632 So.2d 1352, 1355 (Fla. 1994)). Here, the
Complaint reflects that Battle is currently awaiting trial.
Complaint at 6-7. Accordingly, he cannot satisfy the third
prong of Florida's malicious prosecution claim. See
Zargari, 658 Fed.Appx. at 506 n.2. As such his §
1983 malicious prosecution claim is due to be denied.
Id. at 506. Accordingly, Battle has failed to state
a § 1983 claim based on malicious prosecution. Likewise,
a § 1983 false imprisonment claim requires a plaintiff
to demonstrate that he or she has been detained after it was
or should have been known that the plaintiff was entitled to
be released. See Cannon v. Macon County, 1 F.3d
1558, 1562-63 (11th Cir. 1993). Here, Battle states he is
currently awaiting trial; therefore, Battle has not shown
that he is entitled to being released, and his claim of false
imprisonment is due to be denied.
Battle's remaining arguments, the Court finds that he is
attempting to challenge the fact and validity of his
confinement; however, such claims are not cognizable in
§ 1983 proceedings. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477, 481 (1994) (noting that “habeas corpus is the
exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the fact
or duration of his confinement and seeks immediate or
speedier release, even though such a claim may come within
the literal terms of § 1983.”); Hutcherson v.
Riley, 468 F.3d 750, 754 (11th Cir. 2006) (“Simply
put, if the relief sought by the inmate would either
invalidate his conviction or sentence or change the nature or
duration of his sentence, the inmate's claim must be
raised in a § 2254 habeas petition, not a § 1983
civil rights action.”). Accordingly, as Battle's
claims would invalidate his criminal proceedings, he must
seek relief via a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Prior to instituting a federal
habeas proceeding, Battle must first exhaust all state
remedies, after which Battle may then seek a petition for
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 if he
review of the Complaint, it appears that Battle has little or
no chance of success on any claims of federal constitutional
deprivation against Garcia. The Complaint is due to be denied
on the basis of the conclusory nature of Battle's
allegations, see Rehberger, 577 Fed.Appx.
at 938, as well as for the reasons articulated above.
Therefore, this case will be dismissed, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B), without prejudice.
case is hereby DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Clerk of Court shall enter judgment dismissing this case
without prejudice, terminating any ...