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Leigh Owens v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division

June 21, 2019

JUWAN GAINES LEIGH OWENS
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, MAJOR PENA, BRIAN MANLEY, and BETSY DEVOS

          THE HONORABLE LEE YEAKEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          ANDREW W. AUSTIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         The Magistrate Judge submits this Report and Recommendation to the District Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b) and Rule 1(f) of Appendix C of the Local Court. Before the Court are Plaintiff's original and amended complaints. Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         At the time he filed his original complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff was confined in the Travis County Correctional Complex. According to Plaintiff, he was arrested by Austin Police Department officers on April 12, 2019. Plaintiff alleges he has been treated unlawfully by the Travis County Correctional Complex and the Austin Police Department. He seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages for “infringing on [his] daily life.”

         After review of Plaintiff's complaint, Plaintiff was advised neither the Travis County Correctional Complex nor the Austin Police Department was an entity capable of being sued. Plaintiff was ordered to file an amended complaint, naming defendants capable of being sued. The Court ordered Plaintiff to state exactly what each defendant either did or failed to do while acting under color of state law that violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights. On June 6, 2019, the Court received Plaintiff's purported amended complaint. However, Plaintiff's amended complaint is nonsensical and appears to be an attempt to satisfy his outstanding student loan balance with a “contract/bond in the amount of 100 million” dollars. Plaintiff also did not amend any of the parties he wished to sue. He did, however, add that he is seeking punitive damages.

         On June 17, 2019, the Court received a subsequent pleading that also appears to be an amended complaint. This complaint is directed to the Federal Claims Court. In the amended complaint Plaintiff names as defendants the United States, Major Pena, Chief of Police Brian Manley, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

         Although Plaintiff is a Travis County detainee, he claims federal officials violated his constitutional rights. Plaintiff additionally claims employees of the Austin Police Department and the Travis County Correctional Complex are holding him against his will without fair representation. even though Plaintiff admits he is represented by counsel in his pending state criminal cases. Plaintiff seeks “[e]ither compensation, debt dissolve, or immunity from the pilot program, or secure party access to U.S. Treasury Account from non profit secret society, lodges, churches, U.S. Department of Education.”

         DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

         A. Standard Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)

         An in forma pauperis proceeding may be dismissed sua sponte under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) if the court determines the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from suit. A dismissal for frivolousness or maliciousness may occur at any time, before or after service of process and before or after the defendant's answer. Green v. McKaskle, 788 F.2d 1116, 1119 (5th Cir. 1986). When reviewing a plaintiff's complaint, the court must construe plaintiff's allegations as liberally as possible. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). However, the petitioner's pro se status does not offer him “an impenetrable shield, for one acting pro se has no license to harass others, clog the judicial machinery with meritless litigation and abuse already overloaded court dockets.” Farguson v. MBank Houston, N.A., 808 F.2d 358, 359 (5th Cir. 1986).

         B. Defendants Pena and Manley

         Section 1983 provides a cause of action to individuals whose federal rights have been violated by those acting under color of state law. Doe v. Dall. Indep. Sch. Dist., 153 F.3d 211, 215 (5th Cir. 1998). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights; rather, it merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. See Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). In order to state a claim under Section 1983, a plaintiff must (1) allege a violation of rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution or federal law, and (2) demonstrate the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. Doe, 153 F.3d at 215.

         Plaintiff fails to allege any facts showing Defendants Pena or Manley did anything to violate his constitutional rights. This failure is fatal to his claims. See Brinkmann v. Dallas County Deputy Sheriff Abner, 813 F.2d 744, 748 (5th Cir. 1987); see also Thompson v. Steele, 709 F.2d 381, 382 (5th Cir. 1983) (observing “[p]ersonal involvement is an essential element of a civil rights cause of action”). “Supervisory officials are not liable under § 1983 for the actions of subordinates on any theory of vicarious liability”; they must have been “personally involved in the alleged constitutional deprivation or have engaged in wrongful conduct that is causally connected to the constitutional ...


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