United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
M. BORDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
cause of action is before the court on a 42 U.S.C. §
1983 amended complaint filed by Joe Conley, a state inmate,
on August 24, 2017. The named defendants are former
Mayor Mike Schmitz, City Manager Mike West, Lieutenant Ray
Mock, Investigator William Traynham, and Chief of Police
Steve Parrish. Conley alleges that these defendants violated
his Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal
protection by breaching a “verbal
contract/agreement” and through misrepresentations.
Conley requests damages from the named defendants for failing
to execute their oath of office faithfully leading to
violations of his constitutional rights and later to his
incarceration. Conley requests trial by jury. Doc. 9. Upon
review, the court concludes that Conley's complaint is
due to be dismissed prior to service of process under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). 
A. Standard of Review Under 28 U.S.C. §
Conley is proceeding in forma pauperis, the court
reviews his amended complaint under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B), which requires the dismissal of any action is
frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant immune from such relief. A claim is frivolous when
it “has little or no chance of success, ” that
is, when it appears “from the face of the complaint
that the factual allegations are clearly baseless or that the
legal theories are indisputably meritless.” Carroll
v. Gross, 984 F.2d 392, 393 (11th Cir. 1993). A claim is
frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis in law or
fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325
(1989). A claim is frivolous as a matter of law where, among
other things, the defendants are immune from suit,
id. at 327, the claim seeks to enforce a right that
clearly does not exist, id., or there is an
affirmative defense that would defeat the claim, such as the
statute of limitations. Clark v. Ga. Pardons &
Paroles Bd., 915 F.2d 636, 640 n.2 (11th Cir. 1990).
Courts are accorded “not only the authority to dismiss
[as frivolous] a claim based on indisputably meritless legal
theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the
complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims
whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.”
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. A complaint may be
dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
“only if it is clear that no relief could be granted
under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with
the allegations.” Hishon v. King &
Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984) (citing Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)); see Mitchell v.
Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997) (noting
that § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)'s language tracks the
language of Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)).
The Challenged Conviction
alleges that, on May 29, 2016, he and Defendant Traynham, an
investigator with the Dothan Police Department, made an
agreement that Conley would not be charged with a drug
offense if Conley provided Traynham with credible information
regarding the names of drug dealers. Conley maintains that he
provided the requested information and was released without
being charged for drug possession. Six months later, on
November 30, 2016, Traynham breached the agreement by issuing
a warrant for Conley's arrest on a drug possession
charge. Conley contends that Traynham's actions violated
his Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal
protection and resulted in a “subsequent loss of [his]
liberty.” Doc. 9 at 3 & 5.
request for damages in this § 1983 action is due to be
dismissed. The Supreme Court's decision in Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), bars Conley's
Fourteenth Amendment claims to the extent he contends that he
is wrongfully imprisoned on the challenged drug offense.
Among other offenses, Conley is incarcerated on a conviction
for possession of a controlled substance entered against him
by the District Court for Houston County for which he was
sentenced on November 8, 2017 to a concurrent term of 90
months.  Without an invalidation of this
conviction, Conley s claims provide no basis for relief.
Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 646 (1997);
Heck, 512 U.S. 477; Preiser v. Rodriguez,
411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973).
federal law establishes that “habeas corpus is the
exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the fact
or duration of his confinement and seeks an immediate or
speedier release, even though such a claim may come within
the literal terms of § 1983.” Heck, 512
U.S. at 481 (citing Preiser, 411 U.S. at 488-90).
The decision in Heck expounded on Preiser
in holding that claims for damages challenging the legality
of a prisoner's conviction or confinement, even where the
prisoner has exhausted available remedies, are not cognizable
in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action “unless and until the
conviction or sentence is reversed [by a state court],
expunged [by executive order], invalidated, or impugned by
the grant of a writ of habeas corpus” and complaints
containing such claims must therefore be dismissed.
Heck, 512 U.S. at 489. The relevant inquiry is
“whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would
necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or
sentence.” Id. at 487.
Balisok, the Court further concluded that an
inmate's “claim[s] for declaratory [and injunctive]
relief and money damages, . . . that necessarily imply the
invalidity of the punishment imposed, is not cognizable under
§ 1983” unless the inmate can demonstrate the
challenged action has been invalidated. Balisok, 520
U.S. at 648. The Supreme Court determined that this is true
not only when a prisoner challenges the judgment as a
substantive matter but also when “the nature of the
challenge to the procedures could be such as necessarily to
imply the invalidity of the judgment.” Id. at
645. When a prisoner challenges the legality or duration of
his custody, or raises a constitutional challenge that could
entitle him to an immediate or earlier release, his sole
federal remedy is a writ of habeas corpus. Id. at
648; see also Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 78
(2005); Preiser, 411 U.S. at 489. The court
“reemphasize[d] that . . . a claim either is cognizable
under § 1983 and should immediately go forward, or is
not cognizable and should be dismissed.”
Balisok, 520 U.S. at 649; see also Okoro v.
Callaghan, 324 F.3d 488, 490 (7th Cir. 2003) (citing
Balisok, 520 U.S. at 646-48, and holding that
“[i]t is irrelevant that [the plaintiff] disclaims any
intention of challenging his conviction; if he makes
allegations that are inconsistent with the conviction's
having been valid, Heck kicks in and bars his civil
suit”); Miller v. Indiana Dept. of Corrs., 75
F.3d 330, 331 (7th Cir. 1996) (holding that, under
Heck, “[t]he [determinative] issue . . . is
not the relief sought, but the ground of the
claims concern matters related to the validity and the
legality of his confinement. It is clear from the amended
complaint that Conley's the drug possession conviction
has not been invalidated in an appropriate proceeding.
Consequently, the instant collateral attack on this
conviction is prohibited because habeas corpus is the
exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the
validity or duration of his confinement. Balisok,
520 U.S. at 645-46; Heck, 512 U.S. at 487;
Preiser, 411 U.S. at 488-90; Eutzy v.
Tesar, 880 F.2d 1010, 1011 (8th Cir. 1989). These
claims, therefore, are subject to summary dismissal under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
complains that Defendants Schmitz, West, Parrish, and Mock-as
executive officers, judicial superiors, and
supervisors-failed to implement policies and procedures
designed to protect confidential informants from violations
of their constitutional rights. To the extent Conley seeks to
hold Defendants Schmitz, West, Parrish, and Mock liable on
the basis of respondeat superior, this claim
entitles him to no relief.
§ 1983 action, liability against a supervisor cannot be
based on a subordinate's or an employee's actions.
See Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658,
691-92 (1978) (holding that the doctrine of respondeat
superior is inapplicable to § 1983 actions);
Belcher v. City of Foley, 30 F.3d 1390, 1396 (11th
Cir. 1994) (holding that 42 U.S.C. § 1983 does not allow
a plaintiff to hold supervisory officials liable for the
actions of their subordinates under a theory of
respondeat superior or vicarious liability). That
Defendants Schmitz, West, Parrish, and Mock hold supervisory
positions is insufficient to establish liability. Instead,
the language of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 requires proof of an
affirmative causal connection between the actions taken by a
defendant and the alleged constitutional deprivation.
Swint v. City of Wadley, Ala., 51 F.3d 988, 999
(11th Cir. 1995); Jones v. Preuit & Mauldin, 851
F.2d 1321 (11th Cir. 1988); see also Cottone v.
Jenne, 326 F.3d 1352, 1360 (11th Cir. 2003) (holding
that a supervisory official is liable only if he
“personally participate[d] in the alleged
unconstitutional conduct or [if] there is a causal connection
between [his] actions . . . and the alleged constitutional
deprivation”). The law of the Eleventh Circuit directs
“that the inquiry into causation must be a directed
one, focusing on the duties and responsibilities of each of
the individual defendants whose acts or omissions are alleged
to have resulted in a constitutional deprivation.”
Williams v. Bennett, 689 F.2d 1370, 1381 (11th Cir.
1982). Absent some allegation that Defendants Schmitz, West,
Parrish, or Mock knew of, sanctioned, participated in, or