United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER FOR DISMISSAL
Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge.
Joseph Sherod Cannon is a Massachusetts state prisoner. He
filed an action in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York, naming as defendants the
Lowell District Court, the Lowell and Lawrence District
Attorneys, the Billerica House of Correction
("BHC"), the Bridgewater State Hospital
("BSH"), the Chelmsford Police Department
("CPD"), his probation officer, his criminal
defense counsel, and other individuals. The complaint was not
entirely coherent, but it appeared that Cannon had alleged
that he was falsely imprisoned based on a probation violation
detainer in October of 2013.
October 7, 2015, the action was transferred to this court. On
May 5, 2016, this Court issued a memorandum and order
directing Cannon to demonstrate good cause why his complaint
should not be dismissed within 42 days for the reasons stated
therein. He also was directed to file an amended complaint.
The memorandum and order discussed in detail the various
legal impediments to Cannon's claims. These included the
failure to set forth plausible claims in accordance with Rule
8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; the lack of
liability of the BHC; the failure to state plausible civil
rights claims against his former defense counsel; the lack of
respondeat superior liability of the defendants BSH,
the Lowell District Court, the CPD, and the District
Attorneys of Lowell District Court and Lawrence District
Court; the lack of liability of the CPD; the bar to claims
against the Lowell District Court presented by Eleventh
Amendment sovereign immunity; the bar to claims for monetary
damages against the District Attorneys of Essex and Middlesex
Counties; and the possible bar of Cannon's claims based
on the favorable termination rule of Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
6, 2016, Cannon filed an amended complaint. The amended
complaint again named as defendants the Lowell District
Court, the Lawrence District Court, the BHC, and the BSH. It
also added as defendants the Essex County Jail and John Doe
and Jane Doe, both officers of the CPD. The other individual
defendants named in the original complaint were not included.
amended complaint, Cannon alleges that on October 9, 2013, he
was arrested by officers of the CPD. The following day, he
was detained by the Lowell District Court based on multiple
counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. On
January 8, 2014, he was sentenced on a probation violation.
The complaint alleges that he has never been released,
notwithstanding the fact that the Lawrence District Court
dismissed his case on February 20, 2015. He contends this
constitutes double jeopardy and false imprisonment for a
16-month period, and also constitutes cruel and unusual
further alleges that his reputation has been damaged because
the defendants published matters concerning his arrest. He
alleges that all of the defendants "agreed, conspired,
and acted in concert to falsely and maliciously initiate
criminal prosecution of Plaintiff . . . ." Am. Compl.
(Docket No. 11 at 2). He contends that as a result he was
indicted based on false and perjured testimony of other
witnesses procured by the defendants by means of threats,
bribes, and intimidation. He seeks $45 million in monetary
damages and other costs.
under a broad reading, the pro se amended complaint
still is legally deficient in a number of respects.
Specifically, the complaint fails to state plausible claims
upon which relief can be granted against the Lowell District
Court, the Lawrence District Court, the BHC and the BSH,
essentially for the same reasons previously set forth by the
Court in the Memorandum and Order. Moreover, the Essex County
Jail, like the BHC, is not a suable entity under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Thus, the claims of conspiracy, malicious
prosecution, false imprisonment, cruel and unusual
punishment, and defamation against these defendants must be
respect to the claims against the unidentified John Doe and
Jane Doe police officers, the allegations are general and
conclusory in nature, and devoid of underlying facts in
support. The general allegation that all of the defendants
conspired to violate his civil rights is not sufficient to
meet the pleading requirements to state plausible or
cognizable claims. See Williams v. City of Boston,
771 F.Supp.2d 190 (D. Mass. 2011). "‘A civil
rights conspiracy is commonly defined is ‘a combination
of two or more persons acting in concert to commit an
unlawful act, or to commit a lawful act by unlawful means,
the principal element of which is an agreement between the
parties to inflict a wrong against or injury upon another,
and an overt act that results in damages.'"
Estate of Bennett v. Wainwright, 548 F.3d 155, 178
(1st Cir. 2008) (quoting Earle v. Benoit, 850 F.2d
836, 844 (1st Cir.1988)). Thus, "[t]o present an
adequate conspiracy claim, there must be allegations of (1)
an agreement between two or more state actors . . . (2) to
act in concert to inflict an unconstitutional injury; and (3)
an overt act done in furtherance of that goal causing
damages." Lumpkin v. Lucey, Civil Action No.
09-11921-RGS, 2010 WL 1794400, at *5 (D. Mass. 2010)
(quotations and citations omitted). Additionally, allegations
of a conspiracy under § 1983 "must . . . be
supported by material facts, not merely conclusory
statements." Slotnick v. Garfinkle, 632 F.2d
163, 165 (1st Cir. 1980). The complaint fails to meet this
standard and thus his claims against the John and Jane Doe
police officers must be dismissed.
with respect to John and Jane Doe, the complaint fails to set
forth cognizable claims based on malicious prosecution, false
arrest, cruel and unusual punishment, or defamation in
accordance with Rule 8. He fails to set forth any factual
basis from which it reasonably could be inferred that these
two defendants falsely arrested or imprisoned him, or
otherwise acted wrongfully in violation of his civil rights.
The amended complaint fails to provide sufficient notice to
the defendants of the claims asserted against them and the
grounds for those claims.
Court already has afforded plaintiff an opportunity to amend
his pleadings to state plausible claims, and has detailed the
numerous legal impediments to his claims. Despite this, and
even though he did not name all of the defendants in the
original complaint, he simply has reasserted his legally
deficient claims and added new deficient claims. In light of
this, the Court need not afford plaintiff an opportunity to
file a further amended complaint.
because the complaint fails to state plausible claims upon
which relief can be granted and for the reasons set forth in
this Memorandum and Order and the prior Memorandum and Order
(Docket No. 8), this action will be DISMISSED in its entirety
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and (iii) and
§ 1915A(b)(1) and (2).