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Crews v. Commonwealth

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

July 14, 2016

ANTHONY JAMES CREWS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JAMES C. CACHERIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Sheltercare Program's ("Sheltercare") Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. 16], Defendants Governor Terrence Richard McAuliffe ("McAuliffe") and the Commonwealth of Virginia's ("Commonwealth") Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. 25]. Defendant Eighteenth District Court Service Unit's ("Eighteenth District") Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. 37], and Defendant Elaine Buchavich's ("Buchavich") Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. 51]. Collectively, the Court will refer to these Defendants as "Defendants" and the motions they have filed as "Defendants' Motions to Dismiss." For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants' Motions to Dismiss and dismisses Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint [Dkt. 8] as against Defendants with prejudice.

         I. Background

         At the motion to dismiss stage, the Court must read the complaint as a whole, construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accept the facts alleged in the complaint as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The facts below are taken from Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint and the public record, and are accepted as true only for purposes of these motions.

         In 1987, Plaintiff Anthony James Crews ("Crews" or "Plaintiff") was arrested and accused of drug possession. (Sec. Am. Compl. [Dkt. 12] at 6.) Because Plaintiff was 12 years old at the time, he was taken to a juvenile detention center. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he spent weeks there without receiving an attorney or being served any court papers. (Id.) When he was released, Plaintiff was taken to Defendant Sheltercare in Alexandria, Virginia. (Id.) Plaintiff stayed at Sheltercare for several months. (Id.)

         After several months, Plaintiff was taken by his probation officer, Elaine Buchavich, and another, unidentified lady to Winchester Virginia to visit a school called Timber Ridge. (Id.) Plaintiff claims he was told he was going there to see if would like it. (Id.) During a tour of the school, Plaintiff was provided with lunch in the school's dining hall. (Id.) While he was eating lunch, Buchavich left. Plaintiff claims that he "was left at the school for 2 years." (Id.)

         Plaintiff claims that he was never advised of his rights in connection with his juvenile offense and his stay at Timber Ridge, and that he was denied any opportunity to see a judge or other official to plead his case. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that while he was at Timber Ridge, his "teeth were intentionally broken by the dentist." (Id. at 7.) Fillings were then put in place "to cover the damage." (Id.) Plaintiff claims that he received "little to no services" from Timber Ridge in the way of education, was denied a basic education, and that he was set back in school by 2 years during his time at Timber Ridge. (Id.) Plaintiff also claims that Timber Ridge deprived him of money he had earned while working in the dining hall. (Id. at 6-7.)

         Finally, Plaintiff claims that at the end of his time at Timber Ridge, he "was not returned to [his] family and as a result mistreated, starved, and used for illegal activity that lead to a juvenile conviction as an adult in the State of Maryland." (Id.) Plaintiff claims that as a result of the wrongs he suffered at Timber Ridge, he "cannot find meaningful employment despite graduating college with a masters degree, as an adult." (Id.)

         Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on April 12, 2016, alleging violations of his rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Twelfth Amendments. (Compl. [Dkt. 1], Sec. Am. Compl. at 4.) Plaintiff has responded to each of the Motions to Dismiss filed in this case, and a combined oral argument on the Motions to Dismiss was heard on July 7, 2016. The Motions to Dismiss are now all ripe for adjudication.

         II. Legal Standard

         Defendants move to dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(1).

         "The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, [a Rule 12(b)(6) motion] does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243-44 (4th Cir. 1999) (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). While the court must accept well-pleaded allegations as true when ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court need not accept as true legal conclusions disguised as factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679-81 (2009). Therefore, a pleading that offers only a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007). Nor will a complaint that tenders mere "naked assertion[s]" devoid of "further factual enhancement." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557. In the instance where sufficient facts are alleged in the complaint to rule on an affirmative defense, such as the statute of limitations, the defense may be reached by a motion to dismiss filed under Rule 12(b)(6). This principle only applies, however, if all facts necessary to the affirmative defense "clearly appear[ ] on the face of the complaint." Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464 (4th Cir. 2007) (emphasis in original); see also 5B Wright & Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1357.

         A motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure challenges the Court's subject matter jurisdiction over the pending action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Defendants may attack subject matter jurisdiction in one of two ways. As relevant here, the assertion of immunity is properly addressed by the Court on a motion filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1). Smith v. Wash. Metro. Area Transit Auth., 290 F.3d 201, 205 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing Williams v. United States, 50 F.3d 299, 304 (4th Cir. 1995)). In this instance, all facts alleged in the complaint are presumed to be true. Adams, 697 F.2d at 1219; Virginia v. United States, 926 F.Supp. 537, 540 (E.D. Va. 1995). The burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction falls on the plaintiff. McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936); Adams, 697 F.2d at 1219. "Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and we presume that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction.

         The burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction." Wheeling Hosp., Inc. v. Health Plan of the Upper Ohio Valley, ...


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