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Smith v. Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

April 24, 2018

KEITH L'SHAWN SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
OKLAHOMA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, OFFICER SCHAFFER, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BERNARD M. JONES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, now a state inmate, appearing pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office and Officer Schaffer alleging excessive force and sexual assault while Plaintiff was a pre-trial detainee at the Oklahoma County Detention Center. [Doc. No. 1]. United States District Judge David L. Russell has referred the matter for initial proceedings consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C). For the reasons set forth below, it is recommended that, on screening, the Court dismiss the claims against the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office with prejudice and the claims against Officer Schaffer without prejudice.

         I. Plaintiff's Claims

         According to Plaintiff, he asked for a wheelchair transport to the medical unit on April 25, 2017, but Officer Schaffer informed fellow officers that Plaintiff refused to “comply with being removed from [his] cell.” Compl. at 6. Plaintiff alleges that at least five officers entered his cell, tackled him to the floor, stripped him naked, restrained him, and then carried him down the hall “by each appendage.” Id. at 6-7. Plaintiff claims his genitals were exposed and were injured during transport and that officers “broke [his] right wrist.” Id. at 7.

         Plaintiff sues the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office and Officer Schaffer, in their official capacities only, for monetary damages. Id. at 4, 7.

         II. Screening

         Because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis and has sued government officials, the Court has a duty to screen the Complaint and dismiss any portion that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(a), (b), 1915(e)(2)(B).

         Mirroring a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) review, the Court must accept Plaintiff's allegations as true and construe them, and any reasonable inferences to be drawn from them, in the light most favorable to him. See Mink v. Knox, 613 F.3d 995, 1000 (10th Cir. 2010). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); see also Gee v. Pacheco, 627 F.3d 1178, 1184 (10th Cir. 2010).

         III. Analysis

         The Court should dismiss Plaintiff's claims against the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office with prejudice, and should dismiss his claims against Officer Schaffer without prejudice.

         A. Defendant Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

         The Court should first dismiss Plaintiff's claims against the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office, because this Defendant is not a suable entity under § 1983. See, e.g., Moore v. Diggins, 633 Fed.Appx. 672, 677 (10th Cir. 2015) (holding the Denver Sheriff's Department “is not a suable entity under § 1983” and citing Martinez v. Winner, 771 F.2d 424, 444 (10th Cir. 1985) as “dismissing § 1983 claims against the City of Denver Police Department because it was not a separate suable entity”); Lindsey v. Thomson, 275 Fed.Appx. 744, 747 (10th Cir. 2007) (affirming dismissal of § 1983 claims against police departments and county sheriff's department, noting defendants were “not legally suable entities”). As such, Plaintiff's claims against the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office should be dismissed with prejudice on screening. See Kauble v. Bd. of Cnty. Comm'rs of Cnty of Oklahoma ex rel Oklahoma Cnty Sheriff's Office, No. CIV-17-729-D, 2018 WL 912285, at *3 (W.D. Okla. Feb. 15, 2018) (unpublished district court order) (dismissing the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office “[b]ecause the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office does not have a legal identity separate from that of Oklahoma County, it is not a suable entity and not a proper defendant in a civil rights action”).

         B. Defendant ...


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