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Belfield v. Stolle

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

April 3, 2015

BRIAN BELFIELD, Plaintiff,
v.
KEN STOLLE, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES R. SPENCER, Senior District Judge.

Brian Belfield, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action.[1] The matter is before the Court for evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a) and 1915(e)(2).

A. Preliminary Review

Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") this Court must dismiss any action filed by a prisoner if the Court determines the action (1) "is frivolous" or (2) "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The first standard includes claims based upon "an indisputably meritless legal theory, '" or claims where the "factual contentions are clearly baseless.'" Clay v. Yates, 809 F.Supp. 417, 427 (E.D. Va. 1992) (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)). The second standard is the familiar standard for a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

"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) (citing 5 A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990)). In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations are taken as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993); see also Martin, 980 F.2d at 952. This principle applies only to factual allegations, however, and "a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

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) (second alteration in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Plaintiffs cannot satisfy this standard with complaints containing only "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. (citations omitted). Instead, a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, " id. (citation omitted), stating a claim that is "plausible on its face, " id. at 570, rather than merely "conceivable." Id. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl Corp., 550 U.S. at 556). In order for a claim or complaint to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, the plaintiff must "allege facts sufficient to state all the elements of [his or] her claim." Bass v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003) (citing Dickson v. Microsoft Corp., 309 F.3d 193, 213 (4th Cir. 2002); Iodice v. United States, 289 F.3d 270, 281 (4th Cir. 2002)). Lastly, while the Court liberally construes pro se complaints, Gordon v. Leeke, 51A F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), it does not act as the inmate's advocate, sua sponte developing statutory and constitutional claims the inmate failed to clearly raise on the face of his complaint. See Brock v. Carroll, 107 F.3d 241, 243 (4th Cir. 1997) (Luttig, J., concurring); Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

B. Allegations

In his Complaint, [2] Belfield alleges, in sum:

As a state inmate that's been[ ] in the Va. Beach City Jail that these people wanted ship off to prison. And as well as the state not calling for me after I have been here over a year and 2 months. That's called pain[ ] and suffering of a civil rights matter which is a law suit matter as well. On the jail of the City of Va. Beach and the state prison system as well too. So my claim is that a state inmate should not be treated wrong in a city jail at all far as feeding goes. With bugs on the trays from the kitchen every day in the morning. And we don't eat 7 days a week within 12 hours apart[ ] from the next tray which will be a dinner tray at 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon. And on top of that people he is overcharging over a 100% on his canteen items so I really think that the IRS needs to look in to his listed on the internet online people very much so and you will see that I am not lying at all about any of this far as this matter goes people. And the canteen address is VBDS caremark.com online people look it up please?... so my claim is about pain and suffering of my civil rights of the law as a person as well as a[n] inmate. So I hope you people will honor me that I have been violated in the city jail of Va. Beach, Va. 23456.

( Id. at 5.) Belfield names Sheriff Ken Stolle as the sole defendant. ( Id. at 2.) Belfield seeks unspecified money damages. ( Id. at 6.) The Court construes Belfield to raise the following claims:

Claim One: Stolle violated Belfield's Eighth Amendment rights[3] because he receives meal trays with insects.
Claim Two: Stolle violated Belfield's Eighth Amendment rights by providing inadequate food.
Claim Three: Stolle violated Belfield's Eighth Amendment rights by overcharging ...

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