United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
SHARION AYCOCK U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court, sua sponte, for
consideration of dismissal. Plaintiff Jerry Lee Darnell, a
Mississippi inmate housed at Winston-Choctaw County Regional
Correctional Facility, has filed a civil rights suit pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Investigator James Faris,
Deputy Mark McGairty, Asst. D.A. Lindsay Clemons, the Lowndes
County Sheriff's Department, and Asst. D.A. Mark Jackson.
Having fully considered Plaintiff's allegations and the
applicable law, the Court finds that the instant complaint
should be dismissed with prejudice as malicious.
to Darnell, on August 4, 2010, he and Jeff King were
preparing to tow a vehicle belonging to King's brother
when Deputy Mark McGairty approached the men and questioned
Darnell regarding the ownership of some speakers and an air
conditioner in the back of the vehicle. Darnell states that
he told McGairty that the items were his, but he alleges that
McGairty nonetheless arrested him after two individuals
falsely identified the property as theirs. He claims that
Investigator James Faris then produced a falsified report
claiming that Darnell confessed to burglary. Darnell asserts
that he was arrested without a valid warrant or affidavit,
and he claims that he was denied a timely initial appearance.
contends that Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay Clemons
and Mark Jackson knew the allegations against him were false
based on the bad-faith affidavits and reports of McGairty and
Faris. As a result, he claims, he was wrongfully arrested,
maliciously prosecuted, and imprisoned for burglary and
receipt of stolen property.
concedes that he previously initiated a lawsuit involving the
allegations contained in the instant complaint and against
the individual defendants named in this action. See
Doc. #1 at 2. That action was dismissed with prejudice on May
3, 2016. See Darnell v. Howard, 1:15CV132-SA-JMV.
Darnell has been permitted to proceed in forma
pauperis in this action, his complaint is subject to
sua sponte dismissal under the Prison Litigation
Reform Act (“PLRA”). See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
(subjecting prisoner complaint to preliminary screening
regardless of in forma pauperis status). Pursuant to
the PLRA, the Court is obligated to evaluate the complaint
and dismiss it if 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.”
§ 1915(e)(2). A claim is frivolous if it “lacks an
arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke
v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A complaint fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if relief
could not be granted to the plaintiff “under any set of
facts that could be proven consistent with the
allegations” in the complaint. Bradley v.
Puckett, 157 F.3d 1022, 1025 (5th Cir. 1998) (citation
omitted); see also Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) (holding that
complaint fails to state a claim only where it does not plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face”).
has previously presented the factual allegations contained in
this action in a prior federal action that was dismissed with
prejudice by this Court in Cause No. 1:15CV132-SA-JMV, which
counted as a “strike” for purposes of 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(g). In that action, it was determined that
Darnell's claims against Faris and McGairty were barred
by Mississippi's three-year statute of limitations, while
Assistant District Attorneys Clemons and Jackson enjoyed
prosecutorial immunity. See Darnell v. Howard,
1:15CV132-SA-JMV, Doc. #13 (Report and Recommendation) and
Doc. #19 (Final Judgment adopting Report and Recommendation).
Court finds that the claims brought by the plaintiff in this
§ 1983 action are barred by the doctrine of res judicata
and the related doctrine of collateral estoppel. Res judicata
means “a thing decided, ” and the doctrine states
that a final judgment on the merits rendered by a court of
competent jurisdiction is conclusive as to the parties and
those in privity with them. Cromwell v. County of
Sac., 94 U.S. 351, 352 (1876); Kaspar Wire Works,
Inc. v. Leco Engineering & Machine, Inc., 575 F.2d 530,
535 (5th Cir.1978). Res judicata bars a plaintiff from
bringing a second suit based upon the same event or series of
events by asserting additional facts or proceeding under a
different legal theory. See Brown v. Felsen, 442
U.S. 127, 131 (1979). In the Fifth Circuit, res judicata bars
a claim if: (1) the parties are the same in both actions, (2)
the prior judgment is rendered by a court of competent
jurisdiction, (3) the prior judgment was final on the merits,
and (4) the cases involve the same cause of action. Swate
99 F.3d 1282, 1286 (5th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted).
Similarly, collateral estoppel precludes relitigation of
essential issues that were actually adjudicated in a prior
case involving a party to that case. See Allen v.
McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94 (1980).
previously brought a federal action involving the same claims
and defendants that are involved in the instant lawsuit, and
that action was dismissed with prejudice. Therefore, under
the doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata, he is
barred from relitigating the instant action, and his
complaint will be dismissed as malicious. Bailey v.
Johnson, 846 F.2d 1019, 1021 (5th Cir.1988) (noting that
repetitive litigation of “virtually identical causes of
action” is subject to dismissal as malicious); see
also Pittman v. Moore, 980 F.2d 994, 994-95 (5th Cir.
1993) (holding “a district ...