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Irving v. Hall

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

November 15, 2016

ROBERT P. HALL, et al., Defendants.


          John A. Gibney Jr. United States District Judge

         Angelo Marcellus Irving, a former[1] Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action.[2] The matter is before the Court for evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. As explained below, Irving's claims lack merit and will be dismissed.


         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, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), it will not act as the inmate's advocate and develop, sua sponte, statutory and constitutional claims that 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).


         In his Complaint, Irving alleges that Defendants[3] violated his Fourth Amendment[4] rights.

         Irving alleges:[5]

Plaintiff Angelo M. Irving claims that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when Robert P. Hall, officer of Caroline Police Dept. unlawfully used his authority to search and seize him for robbery of an A.B.C. store, and use of a firearm while committing or attempting to commit a robbery, pursuant to the issuance of a uniform traffic stop, as probable cause. There was no probable cause to stop Irving where no victim alleged that they he or she was robbed. And the traffic stop alone could not form the basis for probable cause to search or seize him, where he was accused of robbery and use of a F/A as basis for the [charges].
The Magistrate named in the warrant also violated Irving's Fourth Amendment rights upon issuing the warrant without probable cause and remanding him to custody without probable cause as a form of seizure.

(Compl. 4, ECF No. 1.) The exhibits attached to Irving's Complaint indicate that Irving was arrested on the charges to which he refers on December 20, 1983. (ECF No. 1-1, at 1-4.) The Court's records demonstrate that, in 1984, Irving was convicted of armed robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the Circuit Court of the County of Caroline, Virginia, and was sentenced to fifteen years of imprisonment. Irving v. Clarke, No. 3:14CV571, 2015 WL 4424848, at *1 (E.D. Va. July 17, 2015). Irving seeks $175, 000.00 in damages, injunctive relief in the form of a finding "that the defendants have violated the 4th Amend[ment], " and "any other relief the Court deems fit." (Compl. 5.)

         The Court construes Irving's Complaint to raise the following claims for relief:

Claim One: Defendant Hall violated Irving's rights under the Fourth Amendment by (a) conducting a traffic stop without probable cause and (b) lacking probable cause to arrest Irving ...

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