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House v. Jackson

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

July 20, 2016

BRANDON HOUSE, Plaintiff,
v.
CASEY JACKSON; JASON JACKSON; LARRY CAIN; and DAWAN MORGAN, Defendants.

          Brandon House, Plaintiff, Pro Se.

          Casey Jackson, Defendant, represented by Amber Schubert, Arkansas Attorney General.

          Jason Jackson, Defendant, represented by Amanda M. LaFever, Arkansas Municipal League.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Brandon House originally submitted this pro se action for filing on April 29, 2015 in the Eastern District of Arkansas. ECF No. 2. On May 1, 2015 the case was transferred to the Western District. ECF No. 3. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)(2014), the Honorable Robert T. Dawson[1], United States District Judge, referred this case to the undersigned for the purpose of making a Report and Recommendation.

         The case is before me on a Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 32) filed by Defendant Dawan Morgan. Plaintiff has not responded. After careful consideration, I make the following Report and Recommendation.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is currently an inmate in the Miller County Correctional Facility in Texarkana, Arkansas. ECF No. 35. Defendant Dawan Morgan is employed by the Department of Community Corrections, a program of the Arkansas Department of Correction. In his Complaint Plaintiff alleges on October 28, 2013 he was arrested for violating the terms of his probation and placed in jail in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. ECF No. 2. He claims his civil rights were violated during the arrest and he was not, at that time, advised of the reason for his arrest. Plaintiff states he bonded out of jail and went to visit Defendant Morgan, his probation officer, on November 4, 2013. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Morgan told him his probation was being revoked because of the arrest. Plaintiff alleges from May until November 4, 2013, Defendant Morgan was "derelict" in his duties as Plaintiff's probation officer. ECF No. 2. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Morgan was never available to see him and failed to notify Plaintiff he was not in compliance with the terms and conditions of his probation until he received a report of probation violation, filed by Defendant Casey Jackson, on November 4, 2013. Plaintiff also claims Defendant Morgan's "unprofessional conduct" led to his "conviction." ECF No. 2. Plaintiff seeks "justice, freedom, liberty and compensation" for his wrongful arrest and he wants to see Defendants punished or reprimanded. ECF No. 2.

         Defendant Morgan has moved to dismiss the case against him pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (b)(6) on the following grounds: (1) sovereign immunity bars Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Morgan in his official capacity; (2) Plaintiff has failed to state a constitutional claim against Defendant Morgan in his individual capacity; and (3) Plaintiff's claims are barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).

         APPLICABLE LAW

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(6) provides that a motion to dismiss should be granted on a plaintiff's claim if he "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." A complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it appears beyond a doubt the plaintiff's complaint can prove no set of facts to support the plaintiff's purported cause of action. Schaller Tel. Co. v. Golden Sky Sys., Inc., 298 F.3d 736, 740 (8th Cir. 2001). In determining whether to dismiss this action under Rule 12 (b)(6), the Court will assume the facts alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint are correct and will draw reasonable inferences from the facts in favor of the allegations in the Complaint. Turner v. Holbrook, 278 F.3d 754, 757 (8th Cir. 2002); In re Navarre Corp. Sec. Litig., 299 F.3d 735, 738 (8th Cir. 2002).

         DISCUSSION

         1. Official Capacity Claim

         Under section 1983, a defendant may be sued in either his individual capacity, or in his official capacity, or claims may be stated against a defendant in both his individual and his official capacities. Gorman v. Bartch, 152 F.3d 907, 914 (8th Cir. 1998). With respect to the official capacity claims, they are "functionally equivalent to a suit against the employing governmental entity." Veatch v. Bartels Lutheran Home,627 F.3d 1254, 1257 (8th Cir. 2010). In other words, Plaintiff's official capacity claims against Defendants are treated as claims against the State of Arkansas. Murray v. Lene, 595 F.3d 868, 873 (8th Cir. 2010); Short v. Westark Cmty. Coll.,347 Ark. 497, ...


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