LOGAN – A Hocking County man who’s suing current and former Logan Police officers in federal court for allegedly violating his civil rights has been told by a judge for the second time that he needs to rewrite and re-file his legal complaint.
In an opinion and order issued April 23, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly A. Jolson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, ordered plaintiff Andrew M. Smigelski of Sugar Grove to file a second amended complaint by Friday, May 7.
The judge cited around 140 paragraphs currently included in Smigelski’s lawsuit that he will have to delete, because they are immaterial or “impertinent” to any legal claim Smigelski is making. Four other paragraphs, the judge found – in which Smigelski claims that one of the defendants is a neo-nazi and a white supremacist – will need to be removed because they are “scandalous in content.”
In his original federal lawsuit, filed last year, Smigelski alleged that he was subjected to unlawful search and seizure and excessive force during the course of being arrested, charged and jailed in connection with an alleged 2018 dispute he had with his neighbors.
In connection with this dispute, Smigelski was convicted of misdemeanor menacing in 2019 in Hocking County Municipal Court; he appealed that conviction to Ohio’s Fourth District Court of Appeals but lost. He then filed his federal civil rights lawsuit.
The first version of his federal suit named more than 20 defendants including the FBI, and raised multiple constitutional claims. Because he was acting as his own attorney and filing the suit in forma pauperis – meaning he is not responsible for its costs – the court was required to analyze the merits of his claims, and to dismiss any that were frivolous, malicious, failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted, or sought money damages from a defendant who was immune to such damages.
After that initial review, Jolson dismissed much of Smigelski’s original suit and told him to file a revised version, in which the only defendants permitted were three current Logan Police officers — Gregg Cluley, Ryan Gabriel and Ben Skinner — and one former officer, Josh Mowery. The judge approved Smigelski to sue Cluley for alleged misrepresentation in obtaining a search warrant, and the others for alleged use of excessive force. She also ruled that the officers could be sued only in their individual capacities, not in their official police roles.
Smigelski filed an amended version of his lawsuit in accordance with Jolson’s order, and the defendants responded with motions asking either that the suit be dismissed, or that Smigelski be required to remove great swaths of content from it as irrelevant or scandalous. In her latest opinion and order, Jolson grants most of what the defendants have asked for, short of dismissing any of the defendants.
She also reiterates what she has said in previous court filings: That Smigelski can sue Cluley on the bad search warrant issue; the three other officers on the excessive force issue; and an unidentified guard or guards at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail in Nelsonville for allegedly violating his constitutional rights by collecting his DNA.
Finally, Jolson orders that because the second version of Smigelski’s complaint did not specify what damages or other relief he is seeking, he needs to make those points clear in his revised complaint.