United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAMS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on two pro se cases filed by
plaintiff Sarah Center. In the first case, 19-CV-0023 CJW,
filed January 8, 2019, plaintiff alleges various
constitutional violations and violations of the Americans
with Disabilities Act arising out of an arrest for a traffic
violation and the ensuing state court cases. (19-CV-0023 CJW,
Doc. 1-1 at 4-5). In the second case, 19-CV-0060 CJW,
plaintiff made the same allegations, but included grievances
based upon later rulings in the state court
cases.(19-CV-0060 CJW, Doc. 1-2 at 4-5).
Plaintiff also filed motions to proceed in forma pauperis in
both cases. (19-CV-0023 CJW, Doc. 1 and 19-CV-0060 CJW, Doc.
1). Finally, plaintiff filed a supplement in the first case.
(19-CV-0023 CJW, Doc. 3).
MOTIONS TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
did not pay the two $400 filing fees and has instead filed
the two motions to proceed in forma pauperis referenced
above. In order for a court to authorize the
commencement of an action without the prepayment of the
filing fee, a person must submit an affidavit that includes a
statement of all the assets the person possesses. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a)(1). Additionally, “[s]uch affidavit
shall state the nature of the action, defense or appeal and
affiant's belief that the person is entitled to
redress.” Id. In her filings, plaintiff states
she is homeless and has no income. Accordingly, her motions
to proceed in forma pauperis (19-CV-0023 CJW, Doc. 1 and
19-CV-0060 CJW, Doc. 1) are granted. The
clerk's office is directed to file the two complaints
(19-CV-0023 CJW, Doc. 1-1 and 19-CV-0060 CJW, Doc. 1-2)
without the prepayment of fees.
INITIAL REVIEW STANDARD
is some debate about a court's ability to dismiss,
preservice, a meritless case filed by a non-prisoner who is
granted in forma pauperis status. When a court allows a
prisoner to proceed in forma pauperis, there is clear
statutory authorization to conduct an “initial
review” to see whether the claim is viable. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A. Neither § 1915 nor § 1915A explicitly
authorizes the court to conduct an initial review in
non-prisoner cases. Johnson v. Bloomington Police,
193 F.Supp.3d 1020, 1023 (D. Minn. 2016) (citing Porter
v. Fox, 99 F.3d 271, 273 (8th Cir. 1996)). However,
courts generally agree that even in the case of a
non-prisoner, a court may dismiss a filing if it is clearly
frivolous. Id. Frivolousness is higher standard than
mere failure to state a claim under the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. “[A] complaint, containing as it does
both factual allegations and legal conclusions, is frivolous
where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in
fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325
(1989). Additionally, § 1915 states that a court may
dismiss, at any time, an in forma pauperis case that fails to
state a claim under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii); Benter
v. Iowa, Dep't of Transp., 221 Fed. App'x 471
(8th Cir. 2007) (unpublished). Accordingly, many courts rely
§ 1915(e)(2) to dismiss, preservice, in forma pauperis
complaints that clearly fail to state a claim.
claims made by plaintiff in 19-CV-0023 CJW, Doc. No. 1-1 seem
to be as follows: 1) defendant Darrah's Towing towed
plaintiff's car; 2) the police department defendants
towed plaintiff's car; 3) the police department
defendants committed crimes “because I'm
deaf;” 4) the police department defendants gave
plaintiff traffic citations; 5) the police department
defendants threatened to use a taser on plaintiff; 6) the
Linn County District Court failed to give plaintiff notice of
hearings; and 7) the Linn County District Court took away
plaintiff's driver's license.
claims made by plaintiff in 19-CV-0060 CJW, Doc. No. 1-1 seem
to be as follows: 1) The police department defendants are
being “brutal” to the plaintiff because she is
deaf; 2) the police department defendants committed
‘false arrest' against plaintiff; Judge Hammond
ruled against plaintiff in state court; 3) Judge Jones also
ruled against plaintiff; 4) both Judges “ignored the
fact that [plaintiff] is deaf” and committed a
“hate crime”; and 5) the police department
defendants lied in court and intimidated the
the overarching thread in both of plaintiff's complaints
is that the Iowa state courts are violating her rights in
ongoing litigation related to traffic offenses.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
1983 provides, in relevant part:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory . . .
subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the
United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof
to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the
party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other
proper proceeding for redress . . .
Section 1983 was designed to provide a “broad remedy
for violations of federally protected civil rights.”
Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658,
685 (1978). However, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides no
substantive rights. See Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S.
266, 271 (1994); Graham v. Conner, 490 U.S. 386,
393-94 (1989); Chapman v. Houston Welfare Rights
Org., 441 U.S. 600, 617 (1979). “One cannot go
into court and claim a ‘violation of [42 U.S.C.] §
1983' - for [42 U.S.C.] § 1983 by itself does not
protect anyone against anything.” Chapman, 441
U.S. at 617. Rather, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides a remedy
for violations of all “rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution and laws [of the
United States].” 42 U.S.C. § 1983; see also
Albright, 510 U.S. at 271 (42 U.S.C. § 1983
“merely provides a method for vindicating federal
rights elsewhere conferred.”); Graham, 490
U.S. at 393-94 (same); Maine v. Thiboutot, 448 U.S.
1, 4 (1980) (“Constitution and laws” means 42
U.S.C. § 1983 provides remedies for violations of rights
created by federal statute, as well as those created by the
Constitution.). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
a plaintiff must establish: (1) the violation of a right
secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and
(2) the alleged deprivation of that right was committed by a
person acting under color of state law. See West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
Americans With Disabilities Act
Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers and others
dealing with the public to provide accommodations to those
with certain disabilities. To state:
a prima facie claim under the ADA, a plaintiff must show: 1)
[they are] a person with a disability as defined by statute;
2) [they are] otherwise qualified for the benefit in
question; and 3) [they were] excluded from the benefit due to
discrimination based upon disability. See 42 U.S.C.
§ 12131 et seq.; see also Gorman, 152 F.3d at
911-12; Doe v. University of Md. Med. Sys. Corp., 50
F.3d 1261, 1265 (4th Cir. 1995).
Randolph v. Rodgers, 170 F.3d 850, 858 (8th Cir.