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Crews v. Commonwealth

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

September 8, 2016



          James C. Cacheris JUDGE

         This matter is now before the Court on Defendant Leary Educational Foundation, doing business as Timber Ridge School's (“Timber Ridge” or “Defendant”) motion to dismiss [Dkt. 78]. For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and dismisses Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint [Dkt. 8] as against Timber Ridge 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 this motion.

         In 1987, Plaintiff was arrested and accused of drug possession. (Am. Compl. 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 Sheltercare Program (“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 (“Buchavich”), and another, unidentified woman to Winchester Virginia to visit a school called Timber Ridge. (Id.) Plaintiff claims he was told he was going there to see if he 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 there. (Id.) Plaintiff also claims that he was deprived by Timber Ridge 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, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (Compl. [Dkt. 1], Sec. Am. Compl. at 4.) On April 19, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint. Timber Ridge contends that they were not served with any of Plaintiff's filings until July 8, 2016. Timber Ridge filed this Motion to Dismiss, along with an accompanying Roseboro notice, on July 20, 2016. Plaintiff has not filed any opposition to this Motion. The motion was argued in court on August 25, 2016, and it is now ripe for decision.

         II. Legal Standard

         Defendant moves to dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). A motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) challenges the Court's subject matter jurisdiction over the pending action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction falls on the plaintiff. McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936); Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982). “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, Inc., 683 F.3d 577, 583-84 (4th Cir. 2012)(internal citations omitted).

         “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.

         In considering a motion to dismiss, a court is limited to considering the pleadings, documents attached to the pleadings, documents integral to, relied upon, or referenced to within the pleadings, and official public records pertinent to the plaintiff's claims. See Philips v. Pitt County Memorial Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009); Witthohn v. Fed. Ins. Co., 164 F.App'x 395, 396 (4th Cir. 2006); Gasner v. County of Dinwiddie, 162 F.R.D. 280, 282 (E.D. Va. 1995).

         III. ...

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