United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
EARNEST EUGENE HARRIS, (TDCJ No. 02195155), Plaintiff,
OFFICER JOHN DOE, Et Al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL UNDER 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915A & 1915(E)(2)(B)
T. PITTMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case was recently reassigned from the docket of Judge Reed
O'Connor to this the “P”docket of the
undersigned district judge. The case remains before the Court
for review of pro-se inmate/plaintiff Earnest Eugene
Harris's pleadings under the screening provisions of 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915A and 1915(e)(2)(B). After conducting
that review, the Court finds that all claims asserted by
plaintiff Harris must be dismissed under authority of these
original form civil complaint with attachment pages was
file-stamped on August 6, 2018. Complaint 1-14, ECF No. 1. In
response to the prior Judge's order, Harris completed and
filed answers to the Court's questionnaire on September
5, 2019. Questionnaire Answer 1-12, ECF No. 15. Harris also
recently filed Supplemental Answers to the Court's
questionnaire. Supp. Answer 1-7, ECF No. 16.
complaint, Harris names as defendants City of Fort Worth
police officer John Doe, other Fort Worth officers as unnamed
Doe defendants,  property personnel for the Fort Worth
Police Department, Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke, and
the City of Fort Worth, Texas. Complaint 3, 10, ECF No. 1.
Harris names the defendants in both individual and official
capacities, and he seeks relief against them for alleged
violation of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Complaint, 6, ECF No. 1.
recites that on October 13, 2015 he was the
passenger in a car stopped by Fort Worth police officers.
Complaint 7, ECF No.1. After the driver, Sarah Click, gave
what Harris labels as “involuntary” consent to
search, the officers seized his backpack and computer bag,
and began searching through the backpack/computer bag and his
personal items contained inside, including a laptop computer,
a tablet, a Garmin GPS, a TomTom GPS, an Apple notebook, a
digital camera, and many other items. Complaint 7-8, ECF No. 1;
Suppl. Answers 2-3, ECF No. 16. Harris acknowledges that his
backpack was also found by the officers to contain drug
paraphernalia (a methamphetamine pipe) and an amount of
marijuana. Complaint 8, ECF No. 1. As a result, Harris was
arrested and charged with possession of a controlled
substance under one gram and possession of marijuana.
Complaint 8, ECF No. 1.
contends that Officer Doe illegally tampered with the seized
evidence, and because he could not make bond, he was detained
for 13 months as a result of the charges until said charges
were dismissed in November 2016. Id. Harris also
complains of the seizure of all of the property in his
backpack, and acknowledges that he began attempting to
retrieve the property through his “agent”
identified as Paula White, but was “denied most of his
property.” Id. Harris writes that after the
charges were dropped and he was released, he attempted in
person to retrieve his property, and was told it had been
disposed of and that nothing could be done to obtain relief.
Id. at 9.
asserts two separate violations of his constitutional rights.
He contends that his Fourth Amendment right to not be subject
to an unreasonable search and seizure was violated when
Officer John Doe searched his property without his consent
and without probable cause. Complaint 9, ECF No. 9. He also
asserts a claim under the Fourteenth Amendment for a
violation of due process of law in the taking and detention
of his personal property items found in the backpack/computer
bag. Id. Harris seeks relief in the form of a
declaration from this Court that his Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights were violated, an injunction against the
City of Fort Worth, Texas regarding its training policies, as
well as both compensatory and punitive monetary damages.
Complaint 10-12, ECF No. 1.
LEGAL STANDARD OF REVIEW UNDER §§ 1915A and
Harris is an inmate who has been permitted to proceed in
forma pauperis. As a part of the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”), Congress enacted 28 U.S.C. §
1915A, which requires a district court to review a complaint
from a prisoner seeking relief from a governmental entity,
officer, or employee as soon as possible after docketing.
See 28 U.S.C.A. § 1915A(a) (West 2019). Because
Harris is proceeding in-forma-pauperis, his complaint is also
subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Both
§ 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A provide for sua
sponte dismissal of the complaint or any portion
thereof, if it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state claim
upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See
28 U.S.C.A. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b)(West
complaint is frivolous when it “lacks an arguable basis
either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A claim lacks an
arguable basis in law when it is “based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory.” Id. at
327. A claim lack an arguable basis in fact when it describes
“fantastic or delusional scenarios.” Id.
at 327-28. A complaint fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted when it fails to plead “enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007); accord Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009). To avoid dismissal for failure to state a
claim, plaintiffs must allege facts sufficient to
“raise the right to relief above the speculative
level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Mere
“labels and conclusions” nor “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action”
suffice to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Application of the Statute of Limitations
Supreme Court has held that all § 1983 actions are
governed by the statute of limitations for personal-injury
actions for the state of suit. See Wilson v. Garcia,
471 U.S. 261, 273-76 (1985) (holding that state statute of
limitations period for personal-injury actions applies to all
claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983). In Texas, the applicable
limitations period is two years. See Moore v.
McDonald, 30 F.3d 616, 620 (5th Cir. 1994) (noting that
district courts in Texas must use Texas's general
two-year, personal-injury limitations period); see
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 16.003(a)(West 2017)
(Texas's two-year, personal-injury limitations statute).
A district court may dismiss claims sua sponte under
the screening provisions where it is clear from a review of
the complaint that the alleged ...