United States District Court, D. Minnesota
AARON J. CURRY, Plaintiff,
OFFICER KETCHMARK ZAKARI and OFFICER JEREMY BRODIN, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
FRANKLIN L. NOEL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Aaron J. Curry commenced this lawsuit by filing a
“[c]riminal complaint” alleging violations of his
Fourth Amendment rights by two law-enforcement officials.
Compl. at 1 [ECF No. 1]. Because Curry applied for in
forma pauperis (“IFP”) status, his complaint
was subject to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), which requires
the Court (among other things) to evaluate whether Curry has
stated a plausible claim upon which relief may be granted. On
initial review, this Court concluded that Curry had not yet
stated a viable claim for relief. For one thing, Curry could
not initiate criminal proceedings. For another thing, Curry
had not specified whether he was suing those officers in
their individual or official capacities. And most
importantly, Curry had not raised adequate allegations
showing how the officers in question had violated the law.
See ECF No. 3.
than recommend dismissal, however, this Court provided Curry
with an opportunity to amend his complaint. Curry has now
filed his amended complaint [ECF No. 5], and this matter is
once again before the Court on Curry's application to
again, after review of that IFP application, this Court
concludes that Curry qualifies financially for IFP status.
But an IFP application will be denied, and an action will be
dismissed, when an IFP applicant has filed a complaint that
fails to state a cause of action on which relief may be
granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii);
Atkinson v. Bohn, 91 F.3d 1127, 1128 (8th Cir. 1996)
(per curiam); Carter v. Schafer, 273 Fed. App'x
581, 582 (8th Cir. 2008) (per curiam) (“[C]ontrary to
plaintiffs' arguments on appeal, the provisions of 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e) apply to all persons proceeding IFP and
are not limited to prisoner suits, and the provisions allow
dismissal without service.”). In reviewing whether a
complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, this
Court must accept as true all of the factual allegations in
the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in the
plaintiff's favor. Aten v. Scottsdale Ins. Co.,
511 F.3d 818, 820 (8th Cir. 2008). Although the factual
allegations in the complaint need not be detailed, they must
be sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the
speculative level . . . .” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The complaint must
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Id. at 570. In assessing the
sufficiency of the complaint, the court may disregard legal
conclusions that are couched as factual allegations. See
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). Pro se
complaints are to be construed liberally, but they still must
allege sufficient facts to support the claims advanced.
See Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir.
amended complaint, like the initial complaint, suffers from
at least two infirmities, one technical, and one more
substantial. First, the technical defect: Curry has not
alleged whether he is suing defendants for alleged violations
of his constitutional rights in their personal
capacities or in their official capacities.
Curry's claims must therefore be interpreted as being
brought against defendants in their official capacities only.
See Egerdahl v. Hibbing Community College,
72 F.3d 615, 620 (8th Cir. 1996). This, in turn,
substantially limits the type of relief that Curry may seek in
(and more importantly), Curry does not plausibly allege any
violation of the law. The pleadings make clear that Curry
believes he was subjected to an unlawful search, but the
basic facts and events at issue in this lawsuit remain
unclear, despite Curry having been given a second attempt to
present his claims. Further, the vast majority of Curry's
factual allegations amount to legal conclusions - for
example, his allegation that his car was illegally searched,
or that one of the defendants has continued to harass him
following that search. Rather than allege facts
showing how the search was illegal or
showing how defendants' actions have amounted to
harassment, Curry has simply alleged that these unlawful
actions have taken place. But legal conclusions are not
entitled to the usual assumption of truth given to
allegations in pleadings. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
579. And without these legal conclusions, little remains of
it is hereby recommended that this matter be dismissed
pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). That said, because it
is not impossible that Curry could present a claim for relief
based on the nucleus of events suggested in the pleadings,
this Court will recommend that this matter be dismissed
on the foregoing, and on all of the files, records, and
proceedings herein, IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED THAT:
1. This action be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
2. Plaintiff Aaron J. Curry's application to proceed
in forma pauperis [ECF No. 2] be DENIED.
Objections: This Report and Recommendation is not an
order or judgment of the District Court and is therefore not
appealable directly to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Local Rule 72.2(b)(1), “a party may file and serve
specific written objections to a magistrate judge's
proposed finding and recommendations within 14 days after
being served a copy” of the Report and Recommendation.
A party may respond to those objections within 14 days after
being served a copy of the objections. LR 72.2(b)(2). ...