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Casson v. Powell

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division

February 27, 2019

MARK A. CASSON, Plaintiff
v.
MATT POWELL, ET AL., Defendants

          DEE D. DRELL JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JOSEPH H.L. PEREZ-MONTES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is a civil rights Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 (Docs. 1, 8) filed by pro se Plaintiff Mark A. Casson (“Casson”) (#467213). Casson is an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections, incarcerated at the Riverbend Detention Center in Lake Providence, Louisiana. Casson alleges that he was subjected to excessive force during his arrest. Casson names as Defendants Officer Matt Powell, the Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force, and Agent Jeffrey Kelly.

         Because the Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force is not a legal entity, Casson's claims against it should be DENIED, and the entity should be DISMISSED from this suit, WITH PREJUDICE.

         I. Background

         Casson alleges that Defendants arrived at his home claiming to have received complaints regarding drug trafficking. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Casson fled the scene. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Casson states that he was apprehended, handcuffed, and returned to his residence, which was being searched. While handcuffed, Casson fled again. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Casson was caught behind his residence. (Doc. 1, p. 7).

         Casson alleges that Defendants Powell and Kelly choked Casson, slammed him to the ground, kneed him in the back, pressed their elbows into his neck, and placed their hands over Casson's “mouth and nose in a suffocating manner.” (Doc. 8, p. 1). Casson was taken to the hospital and treated for muscle pain in his neck. (Doc. 1, p. 8; Doc. 1-2, p. 1). Casson was then transported to the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center (“NPDC”). (Doc. 1, p. 8).

         In an Amended Complaint, Casson states that he was charged with possession of various narcotics. (Doc. 8, p. 1). Casson provides that he entered a guilty plea to one of the drug charges, and the remaining charges were dismissed. (Doc. 8, p. 1). Casson does not allege that he was charged with, or convicted of, resisting arrest. (Doc. 8).

         II. Law and Analysis

         A. Casson's complaint is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(b) and 1915A.

         Casson is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis. (Doc. 5). As a prisoner seeking redress from an officer or employee of a governmental entity, Casson's Complaint (Doc. 1) is subject to preliminary screening pursuant to § 1915A. See Martin v. Scott, 156 F.3d 578, 579-80 (5th Cir. 1998) (per curiam). Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis, Casson's complaint is also subject to screening under § 1915(e)(2). Both § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A(b) provide for sua sponte dismissal of a complaint, or any portion thereof, if the Court finds it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         A complaint is frivolous when it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A claim lacks an arguable basis in law when it is “based on an indisputably meritless legal theory.” Id. at 327. A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it fails to plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009).

         B. Casson cannot state a claim against a task force.

         The Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Task Force is not a juridical person amenable to suit. Rule 17 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that the capacity to sue or be sued shall be determined by the law of the state in which the district court is held. Fed.R.Civ.P. 17. Thus, Louisiana law governs whether the Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Task Force is an entity with the capacity to sue or be sued. Under Louisiana law, to possess such a capacity, an entity must qualify as a juridical person. This term is defined ...


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