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Roberts v. Immigration Center of America, LLC

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

July 21, 2016

KEN ROBERTS, Plaintiff,


          Robert E. Payne Senior United States District Judge.

         Ken Roberts, a federal detainee proceeding pro se, filed this action in the Circuit Court for Prince Edward County, Virginia. On December 4, 2015, Immigration Center of America, LLC, Jeffrey Crawford, Rebecca Jackson, Russell B. Harper, Ken Newsome, Warren Coleman, Robert Wooten, Mabel Logan, and Douglas Kingery (collectively, "Defendants") removed the action to this Court.[1] The matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss will be granted.


         "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 5A 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 plaintiff's 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. Igbal, 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, " rather than merely "conceivable." Id. 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 Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 556). Therefore, 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, 574 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).


         Roberts invoices the Court's jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Compl. 4, ECF No. 1-1.)[2] "Immigration Center of America [ ("ICA")] . . . operates a detention center for illegal immigrants in Farmville, Virginia, under a contract with the Border and Transportation Security division of the Department of Homeland Security, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement." (Compl. Fact. Alleg. 5 22.) The remaining Defendants are either investors/owners of ICA or employees of ICA. (Compl. 5.)

         On May 27, 2015, Roberts was placed "in the custody of Immigration Center of America - Farmville by defendant, Department of Homeland Security, for intake and processing for immigration proceedings." (Compl. Fact. Allegations f 24.) Roberts remained at ICA Farmville until late November or early December of 2015, at which time he was transferred to a jail in Williamsburg. (ECF No. 1, at 4.)

         During his incarceration at ICA Farmville, Roberts asserts that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by, inter alia, failing to provide adequate toilet paper, (Compl. Fact. Alleg. ¶ 27) and failing to provide a diet that accommodated Roberts's religious beliefs, (id. ¶¶ 37-47). Roberts also contends that Defendants' actions violated his rights under Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA") of 2000, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc et seq. (Id. ¶ 55.) Roberts demands injunctive and declaratory relief and monetary damages. (Id. 10-12.)


         RLUIPA provides, in pertinent part, that:

"No government shall impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an institution . . . unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the burden on that person-
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling ...

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