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Hughley v. Alabama Department of Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

February 13, 2019




         Before the court is the pro se complaint of Plaintiff Johnny Hughley. Doc. 6. Also pending is a motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2) and a motion for preliminary injunction. Doc. 8. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) this case was referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for review and submission of a report with recommended findings of fact and conclusions of law. Doc. 3. For the reasons stated below, the Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that the motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2) be GRANTED, but that the motion for preliminary injunction (Doc. 8) be DENIED, that Hughley's federal claims be DISMISSED with prejudice prior to service of process pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)[1] for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and that Hughley's state-law claims be DISMISSED without prejudice.


         The court has subject-matter jurisdiction over the claims in the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367. The court finds adequate allegations to support both jurisdiction and venue in the Middle District of Alabama.


         The facts in this recommendation are those alleged in the Second Amended Complaint. Doc. 6. On May 15, 1986, Hughley filed a civil action against Motors Insurance Corporation; Royal Oldsmobile; Columbus, Inc.; and Tony Cocus. Doc. 6 at 2. On or about October 16, 1987, the State of Alabama illegally detained Hughley in the Chambers County jail and in state prison. Doc. 6 at 2. The complaint does not allege on what basis Chambers County detained Hughley, but it does claim that he was never convicted of rape or admitted that he was guilty of rape. Doc. 6 at 3. Hughley also submitted evidence indicating that he had been convicted for rape in the second degree but that the conviction was later set aside and the case dismissed. Doc. 1-1.

         During the time in which Hughley was held in custody, he lost his residence and business. Doc. 6 at 3. And, while incarcerated, the Alabama Department of Corrections subjected him to hard labor, made money from his work, and denied him access to the court based on a fraudulent document that it knew to have been obtained illegally. Doc. 6 at 3.

         Further, attorneys John A. Tinney; Fred Gray, Sr.; C.S. Whittelsey; and Mike D. Cook defrauded Hughley out of certain settlement funds even though he provided them with transcripts indicating that his rape conviction had been set aside. Doc. 6 at 4. Hughley did not learn of this fraud until May 2018. Doc. 6 at 4. When he requested reimbursement for the attorneys' conduct, the Alabama State Bar Association intentionally defrauded him out of insurance funds that should have covered his loss. Doc. 6 at 5.

         Additionally, Captain Majors of the Lee County, Alabama Sheriff's Office intentionally committed perjury to obtain an indictment of Hughley. Doc. 6 at 5. The State of Alabama utilized this fraudulent conviction to enhance Hughley's sentence and obtain another conviction against him. Doc. 6 at 6.


         A. Section 1915 Dismissal

         The same standards governing dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) also govern the review of a complaint under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Douglas v. Yates, 535 F.3d 1316, 1320 (11th Cir. 2008). In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, the court must indulge reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor but is “not required to draw plaintiff's inference.” Aldana v. Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc., 416 F.3d 1242, 1248 (11th Cir. 2005). Similarly, “unwarranted deductions of fact” are not admitted as true for the purpose of testing the sufficiency of a plaintiff's allegations. Id.

         A complaint may be dismissed if the facts as pleaded do not state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (explaining that “only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss”); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 561, 570 (2007) (retiring the prior standard allowing dismissal only where “it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim”). In Twombly, the Supreme Court emphasized that a complaint “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). Factual allegations in a complaint need not be detailed but “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555 (internal citations omitted). “[U]nadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation[s]” will not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Further, when a successful affirmative defense, such as the statute of limitations, appears on the face of the complaint, dismissal for failure to state a claim is warranted. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007).

         In addition to the pleading requirements of Twombly and Iqbal, a plaintiff's pro se status must be considered when evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint. “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. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). Yet any leniency cannot serve as a substitute for pleading a proper cause of action. See Odion v. Google Inc., 628 Fed.Appx. 635, 637 (11th Cir. 2015) (recognizing that although courts must show leniency to pro se litigants, “this leniency does not give a court license to serve as de facto counsel for a party, or to rewrite an otherwise deficient pleading in order to sustain an action”) (internal quotation marks omitted). “While the pleadings of pro se ...

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