United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights case filed by Plaintiff Trenton Joseph Guida,
under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff
proceeds in forma pauperis and pro se. He
is currently incarcerated in the Washington County Detention
Center ("WCDC"). Currently before the Court is a
Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 10) filed by Defendant Deputy Tanner
Weeks, pursuant to Rule 8(a) and Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons explained herein,
the Motion is GRANTED.
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges defamation of character.
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Deputy Weeks stated over
the intercom, "Guida, if you was to do boy push ups
instead of little girl push ups, you would get better
results." (Doc. 1, p. 4). Plaintiff also alleges that on
another occasion, Deputy Weeks approached Plaintiff during
dinner and asked him "why [he] was in his feelings so
bad." Id. at 5. Guida asserts that these
comments, one made over the jail intercom and one made in the
presence of other male inmates, made him appear vulnerable
and weak and put him in danger of "preditorial [sic]
male inmates." Id. Guida further asserts that
the comments caused him emotional distress and embarrassment
and endangered his safety and welfare.
8(a) contains the general pleading rules and requires a
complaint to present "a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). "In order to meet this standard,
and survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), 'a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its
face.'" Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,
588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
plausibility standard requires a plaintiff to show at the
pleading stage that success on the merits is more than a
'sheer possibility.'" Id. at 594. The
standard does "not impose a probability requirement at
the pleading stage; it simply calls for enough fact to raise
a reasonable expectation, " see Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007), or a reasonable
inference that the "defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged, " see Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678; see also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th
Cir. 2004) (finding that while pro se complaints are to be
liberally construed, they must allege sufficient facts to
support the claims).
1983 provides a federal cause of action for the deprivation,
under color of law, of a citizen's "rights,
privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and
laws" of the United States. In order to state a claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that the
defendant acted under color of state law and that he violated
a right secured by the Constitution. West v. Atkins,
487 U.S. 42 (1988); Dunham v. Wadley, 195 F.3d 1007,
1009 (8th Cir. 1999). The deprivation must be intentional;
mere negligence will not suffice to state a claim for
deprivation of a constitutional right under Section 1983.
Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986);
Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344 (1986).
Plaintiff alleges only that Deputy Weeks made a verbal
comment that made Plaintiff appear vulnerable and put him in
danger of attack by other inmates. The allegations, if
accepted as true, do not set forth a violation of
Plaintiff's constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. "Generally, mere verbal threats made by a
state-actor do not constitute a § 1983 claim."
Hopson v. Fredericksen, 961 F.2d 1374, 1378 (8th
Cir. 1992) (citations omitted). "The Constitution does
not protect against all intrusions on one's peace of
mind. Fear or emotional injury which results solely from
verbal harassment or idle threats is generally not sufficient
to constitute an invasion of an identified liberty
interest." King v. Olmsted Cnty., 117 F.3d
1065, 1067 (8th Cir. 1997) (quoting Pittsley v.
Warish, 927 F.2d3, 7 (1st Cir. 1991)).
it has been held that a threat is actionable if it is
"so brutal or wantonly cruel as to shock the conscience,
... or if the threat exerts coercive pressure on the
plaintiff, " King, 117 F.3d at 1067, the
statements at issue in the instant matter-even if true-do not
meet that level of severity. These comments are, at most,
inappropriate or unprofessional, but they do not amount to a
constitutional violation. Plaintiff has purported to sue
Deputy Weeks in both his official and personal capacities;
however, all claims will be dismissed due to Plaintiff's
failure to state a claim of constitutional import.
Furthermore, Plaintiff has not alleged a plausible
"policy" claim against Washington County that would
implicate official-capacity liability. In other words, he has
not pointed to "any officially accepted guiding
principle or procedure that was constitutionally
inadequate." Jenkins v. Cnty. of Hennepin, 557
F.3d 628, 633 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Mettler v.
Whitledge, 165 F.3d 1197, 1204 (8th Cir. 1999)).
these reasons, the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 10) filed by
Defendant Deputy Tanner Weeks is GRANTED, and all claims
against him are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for failure to
state a ...