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Willoughby v. Henrico County

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

June 27, 2014

MIKE M. WILLOUGHBY, Plaintiff,
v.
HENRICO COUNTY, ET AL., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION (GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS FOR LEAVE TO AMEND AND TO TOLL THE FEDERAL STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS)

HENRY E. HUDSON, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motions to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (ECF Nos. 11, 15, and 18)[1], filed by Henrico County, Owen I. Ashman, Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney Office, Judge Lee A. Harris, and the Commonwealth of Virginia (collectively "Defendants") on May 5, 2014.[2] This matter is also before the Court on Mike Willoughby's ("Plaintiff') Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint[3] (ECF No. 22), filed May 23, 2014 and Plaintiff's Motion Toll the Federal Statute of Limitations (ECF No. 23), filed on June 5, 2014. For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' Motions to Dismiss will be granted, Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend will be denied, Plaintiff's Motion to Toll the Federal Statute of Limitations will be denied, and the action will be dismissed with prejudice.

I. BACKGROUND

As required by Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court assumes Plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations to be true, and views all facts in the light most favorable to him. T.G. Slater & Son v. Donald P. & Patricia A. Brennan, LLC, 385 F.3d 836, 841 (4th Cir. 2004) (citing Mylan Labs, Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)). Viewed through this lens, the facts are as follows:

Plaintiff was arrested on October 7, 2007 for malicious wounding and abduction. (Compl. 1 (unnumbered paragraphs), 3:14-cv-00223, ECF No. 4; 3:14-cv-00224, ECF No. 1-1; 3:14-cv-00225, ECF No. 1-1; 3:14-cv-00226, ECF No. 1-1; 3:14-cv-00227, ECF No. 1-1). His trial was held in Henrico County Circuit Court, with Judge Lee A. Harris presiding, and Owen I. Ashman as counsel for the Commonwealth. Id. A psychological evaluation was conducted on April 24, 2008 to determine Plaintiff's competency to stand trial. (Compl. Ex. D thereto, ECF No. 4-4). The core of Plaintiff's allegations are that Judge Harris and Ashman "didn't ensure that... [he] receive[d] a fair psychological evaluation to help in [his] legal defense, and forced [him] to have an inaccurate trial, resulting in damages." (Compl. at ¶ 3). Plaintiff claims that Judge Harris and Ashman are responsible for these damages, and sues both individuals in their official capacity, as well as the County of Henrico, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, based on the theory that the individuals named were employees of the three entities.[4] (Compl. at ¶ 3).

Plaintiff attaches various exhibits evidencing a 2008 psychological evaluation during which the court-appointed psychologist gathered and used five sources of information: "(1) Court order for the evaluation, (2) Telephone interviews with Sheila Willoughby, his mother, and Gwen Dabney, his aunt, (3) Telephone interview with Gary Major at Henrico Mental Health, (4) Treatment records from the Henrico Jail West, (5) Interview with the defendant [Mike Willoughby] on 4/3/08 at the Henrico Jail East." (Compl. Ex. D thereto). Plaintiff starred and circled a portion of the evaluation which states "No warrants or offense-related records were provided for review, " but does not explain what such emphasis means. (Compl. Ex. D thereto). The evaluating court-appointed psychologist concluded that Plaintiff"possessed a rational and adequately factual understanding of a trial and the roles of courtroom personnel, and possessed the capacity to assist counsel in preparing a defense." (Compl. Ex. E thereto (ECF No. 4-5)).

Plaintiff asks this Court for three million dollars in relief, resulting from a deprivation of his rights as a disabled individual under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), a deprivation of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and negligence of Defendants. (Compl. at ¶¶ 4; 3 (unnumbered paragraphs); 4 (unnumbered paragraphs)). He alleges Defendants caused him injuries and monetary damages including medical expenses, broken heels, loss of Social Security income, and pain and suffering. (Compl. at ¶ 4). Plaintiff also claims that he was incapacitated but provides no facts to suggest this aside from a letter evidencing a Social Security Administration determination that he had been found to have become "disabled under our rules on January 3, 2003." (Compl. 3; Compl. Ex. A-l thereto (ECF No. 4-8)).

II. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff in this case offers but a mere "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" in his Complaint. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. He pleads money damages of three million dollars as well as damages resulting from his personal and physical injuries, and requests three million dollars of relief. (Compl. at ¶ 4). However, the causal link between Defendants' actions, if any, and the asserted damages is wholly missing and this Court cannot decipher a plausible claim from the few facts presented.

A. MOTIONS TO DISMISS

i. STANDARD OF REVIEW

"A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require[] only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A complaint need not assert "detailed factual allegations, " but must contain "more than labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). Thus, the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, " id. (citation omitted), to one that is "plausible on its face, " id. at 570, rather than merely "conceivable." Id. In considering such a motion, a plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations are taken as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. T.G. Slater, 385 F.3d at 841 (citation omitted). Legal conclusions enjoy no such deference. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

Additionally, "[a] document filed pro se is to be liberally construed.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-105 (1976)). To that end, "a pro se complaint, however in artfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). And "[p]leadings must be construed to do justice." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d). At the same time, courts recognize that a plaintiff "can plead himself out of court by pleading facts that show that he has no legal claim." Atkins v. City of Chicago, 631 F.3d 823, 832 (7th Cir. 2011) (Posner, J.) (citing Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d 575, 588 (7th Cir. 2009); Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1086 (7th Cir. 2008); ...


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