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Azure v. Great Falls Police Department

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

October 25, 2018

BRIAN JAMES AZURE, Plaintiff,
v.
GREAT FALLS POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendant.

          ORDER

          John Johnston United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Brian Azure filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his constitutional rights during the course of his arrest on January 24, 2018. (Doc. 2.) Mr. Azure failed to name a proper defendant and his claims may be barred by the doctrines set forth in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) and Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). He will be given an opportunity to file an amended complaint.

         I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         A. Parties

         Mr. Azure is a former prisoner proceeding without counsel and in forma pauperis. He was incarcerated at the Cascade County Detention Facility in Great Falls, Montana at the time he filed his Complaint but his April 19, 2018 Notice of Change of Address indicates that he has been released from custody. (Doc. 8.) He names the Great Falls Police Department as the only Defendant. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 1.)

         B. Allegations

         Mr. Azure alleges that on January 24, 2018, he was approached by Great Falls Police Officer Kevin Supalla at his brother's residence. He was searched, handcuffed, placed in a police cruiser, and taken to the Loaf N' Jug Convenience Store. He claims he was not read his Miranda rights. Officer Supalla left Mr. Azure in the police car but then returned and tried to get Mr. Azure to admit that he threatened the clerk at the convenience store. He continued to attempt to coerce Mr. Azure to make this admission on the ride to the jail. Mr. Azure was charged with robbing the store. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 1-2.)

         II. INITIAL SCREENING

         Mr. Azure was a prisoner at the time he filed his Complaint and he is proceeding in forma pauperis so the Court must review his Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and § 1915A. Sections 1915A(b) and 1915(e)(2)(B) require the Court to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis and/or by a prisoner against a governmental defendant before it is served if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. A complaint is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). “A case is malicious if it was filed with the intention or desire to harm another.” Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2005). A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if a plaintiff fails to allege the “grounds” of his “entitlement to relief.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quotation omitted).

         Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a complaint “that states a claim for relief must contain . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the [plaintiff] is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). That is, 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) (quotations omitted). A complaint's allegations must cross “the line from conceivable to plausible.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680.

         There is a two-step procedure to determine whether a complaint's allegations cross that line. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556; Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662. First, the Court must identify “the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 680. Factual allegations are not entitled to the assumption of truth if they are “merely consistent with liability, ” or “amount to nothing more than a ‘formulaic recitation of the elements' of a constitutional” claim. Id. at 679, 681. A complaint stops short of the line between probability and the possibility of relief where the facts pled are merely consistent with a defendant's liability. Id. at 678.

         Second, the Court must determine whether the complaint states a “plausible” claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. A claim is “plausible” if the factual allegations, which are accepted as true, “allow[ ] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678. This inquiry is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679 (citation omitted). If the factual allegations, which are accepted as true, “do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not “show[n]”-“that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         “A document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally construed,' and ‘a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Erickson v. Pardu, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); cf. Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(e) (“Pleadings must be construed so as to do justice”).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. ...


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