United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
ARNOLD B. CLARKE, Plaintiff,
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, Defendant
Hannan Lauck United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on its April 14, 2016
Memorandum Order (the "Memorandum Order") and 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).(ECF No. 2.) For the reasons stated
below, the Court will dismiss Clarke's Amended Complaint
(ECF No. 5) for failure to state a claim on which relief may
be granted.28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
1915(e)(2) '"is designed largely to discourage the
filing of, and waste of judicial and private resources upon,
baseless lawsuits that paying litigants generally do not
initiate because of the costs of bringing suit."'
McLean v. United States, 566 F.3d 391, 399
(4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490
U.S. 319, 327 (1989). The Court must sua sponte
dismiss a claim filed in forma pauperis under
Section 1915(e)(2) if the action is frivolous or malicious or
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Michau v. Charleston Cty, S.C., 434 F.3d
725, 728 (4th Cir. 2006); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Although the word "prisoner" is occasionally used
throughout 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the court must screen any
complaint filed by a plaintiff, whether a prisoner or not,
when he or she files in forma pauperis. See Michau,
434 F.3d at 728 (affirming the district court's dismissal
of non-prisoner's complaint, filed in for ma
pauperis, pursuant to Section 1915(e)(2) because the
section "governs [in forma pauperis] filings in
addition to complaints filed by prisoners").
reasons discussed below, the Court finds that the Amended
Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. The Court will dismiss Clarke's Amended
Complaint without prejudice.
Standard of Review
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.
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.'" BellAtl Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (omission
in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). However, 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); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 679 (2009). A plaintiff must assert not just
speculative or conceivable facts, but facts that state a
plausible claim on the face of a complaint. Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570. "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 Twombly, 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)).
courts have a duty to construe pro se pleadings
liberally. Bracey v. Buchanan, 55 F.Supp.2d
416, 421 (E.D. Va. 1999). S pro se plaintiff must
nevertheless allege a cause of action. Id. (citing
Sado v. Leland Mem'l Hosp, 933
F.Supp. 490, 493 (D. Md. 1996). The Court cannot act as a
pro se litigant's "advocate and develop,
sua sponte, statutory and constitutional
claims" that the litigant failed to raise on the face of
the complaint. Newkirk v. Circuit Court of
Hampton, No. 3:14cv372, 2014 WL 4072212, at *1 (E.D. Va.
Aug. 14, 2014).
Amended Complaint seeks "900 billion dollars" for
the "withholding and hiding of money owed to [Clarke]
for over 40 years." (Am. Compl. 3.) Clarke appears to
have had contracts with an unknown party dating from 1972,
when he began working at E.I. DuPont following high school
graduation. (Id.) In 1976, Clarke was incarcerated
and ordered to pay an unknown amount of restitution by a
judge in Henrico County, Virginia. (Id.) In the
ensuing years, as a result of the restitution obtained by the
Commonwealth, Clarke alleges that he has been "harassed,
slandered, shot by family member [sic], incarcerated for
asking lawyers ... about his money, ... [and] threaten [sic]
with bodily harm." (Id. at 4.)
complaint contains deficiencies well beyond any plausibility
analysis this Court must undertake. While Clarke vaguely
alleges that he was a party to some contracts, he does not
specify the terms of the contracts, the other parties to the
contracts, or how such contracts were breached. Further,
although he alleges that he has suffered a number of common
law torts, including slander, assault, and battery, he does
not state the person who committed such acts. Therefore, his
Complaint fails to "give the defendant fair notice of
what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation
omitted). Even construing this pro se Amended
Complaint liberally, Clarke has failed to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, and this Court must dismiss the
Amended Complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).