United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
Gregory R. Prizzell, United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff’s amended
complaint (Dkt. 4), filed September 3, 2019. For the reasons
that follow, the Court dismisses the amended complaint,
without prejudice, for failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted.
Screening and dismissal standards
Plaintiff’s amended complaint is subject to screening
under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A. In
screening the amended complaint, the Court must identify any
cognizable claim and dismiss any claim which is frivolous,
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief. Id. §§
1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A(b). In determining whether dismissal is
appropriate, the Court must accept as true all well-pleaded
factual allegations in the amended complaint and liberally
construe the facts in Plaintiff’s favor. Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009); Hall v.
Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). But the
Court need not “accept as true a legal conclusion
couched as factual allegation.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Papasan
v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). And, while
Plaintiff does not necessarily need to include
“detailed factual allegations” in the amended
complaint, he is obliged to provide “more than labels
and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements
of a cause of action will not do.” Id.
Ultimately, the Court’s must decide whether the
complaint contains “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at
570. “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
Plaintiff’s allegations and claims
Accepting Plaintiff’s well-pleaded factual allegations
as true, the Court gleans the following facts from the
amended complaint. Sometime before August 18, 2017, the Tulsa
Police Department released to the public surveillance video
footage depicting a Tulsa bank robbery. Dkt. 4, at 4.
Rashonda Basham contacted the Tulsa Police Department and
identified her 17-year-old daughter, T.A., as the woman seen
on the surveillance video robbing the bank. Id.
Basham told police officers that Plaintiff, who was not seen
in the video, was T.A.’s boyfriend, that Plaintiff
bought a car, specifically, “a new grey crown vic,
” with money from the robbery, and that she had seen
T.A. in that car with Plaintiff. Id. at 6. Basham
also “helped the police locate [Plaintiff] and [his]
vehicle and residence.” Id. at 5, 8.
Police Officers S. Sultzer and Helburg (or Helberg) briefly
detained Plaintiff on August 18, 2017, to question him about
the robbery. Dkt. 4, at 2-3, 6-7. Plaintiff denied any
relationship with T.A., denied involvement in the bank
robbery, admitted that he owned the car described by Basham
(which, according to Plaintiff is “actually blue,
” not grey), and told officers that he bought the car
with money he won at the casino. Id. at 6-10.
Following a brief investigatory detention, Sultzer and
Helburg arrested Plaintiff without a warrant. Id. at
6. In conjunction with Plaintiff’s arrest,
“unnamed officers at the scene” seized
Plaintiff’s car without a warrant. Id. at 9.
According to Plaintiff, the car was parked outside his
apartment. Id. Twenty to thirty minutes after
Plaintiff’s arrest, law enforcement officers located
and arrested T.A. Id. at 6-7. Officers transported
Plaintiff and T.A. to the police station for further
questioning. Id. at 7.
admitted her involvement in the bank robbery “within 30
minutes” of her arrest. Dkt. 4, at 7. For the next five
hours, officers continued to question T.A. and Plaintiff.
Id. Both Plaintiff and T.A. denied that Plaintiff
was involved in the bank robbery, and T.A. “said that
she robbed the bank alone.” Dkt. 4, at 7. At some
point, “the police brought Ms. Basham into
[T.A.’s] interrogation room” “to convince
[T.A.] to change her story and implicate [Plaintiff].”
Id. at 7.
August 25, 2017, the State of Oklahoma charged Plaintiff, in
the District Court of Tulsa County, No. CF-2017-4562, with
conspiracy and robbery. See State v. Payne, No.
last visited September 30, 2019. The State dismissed both
charges on December 1, 2017. Id. Four days later,
the federal government filed a two-count indictment in this
court charging Plaintiff with conspiracy and bank robbery.
See Dkt. 26, United States v. Payne, N.D.
Okla. No. 17-CR-0140-CVE (filed Dec. 5, 2017). Plaintiff
ultimately pleaded guilty to both charges, and the sentencing
court imposed a 46-month prison sentence for each conviction,
with both sentences to be served concurrently. See
Dkt. 62, United States v. Payne, N.D. Okla. No.
17-CR-0140-CVE (filed May 8, 2018).
amended complaint, Plaintiff purports to sue three
defendants: the City of Tulsa, Tulsa Police Officer S.
Sultzer, and Rashonda Basham. Dkt. 4, at 1-3. Plaintiff
claims the defendants violated his rights under the Fourth
Amendment by detaining him without reasonable suspicion
(Count 1), arresting him without probable cause (Count 2),
and seizing his vehicle without probable cause (Count 3).
Id. at 2-3, 6-9. Plaintiff seeks $100, 000 in
compensatory damages and $29, 000 in punitive damages
“to be paid by each Defendant.” Id. at
accepting Plaintiff’s well-pleaded factual allegations
as true, the Court finds the amended complaint fails to state
any plausible § 1983 claims against the defendants. To
state plausible § 1983 claims, Plaintiff must allege, at
a minimum, that each defendant identified in the amended
complaint acted under color of state law to deprive him of a
federally protected right. Schaffer v. Salt Lake City
Corp., 814 F.3d 1151, 1155 (10th Cir. 2016).
City of Tulsa
Plaintiff identifies the City of Tulsa as “policy
makers” and seeks to hold the City liable for the
Fourth Amendment violations alleged in Counts 1, 2, and ...