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Young v. Perry

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Danville Division

March 2, 2017

RICKEY G. YOUNG, Plaintiff,
v.
LANE PERRY, SHERIFF, and HENRY COUNTY SHERRIFF'S OFFICE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JACKSON L. KISER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are Defendants Lane Perry's and the Henry County Sheriff's Office's Motion to Dismiss. [ECF No. 13.] This matter has been fully briefed, and the parties argued their respective positions in open court on February 23, 2017. For the reasons stated herein, the Motion to Dismiss will be granted.

         I. STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[1]

         On or about November 11, 2016, Defendants Sheriff Lane Perry and the Henry County Sheriff's Department “wrongfully and illegally arrested plaintiff [Rickey Young] in his deeded home . . . .” (Compl. ¶ 5 [ECF No. 3].)[2] Defendants arrested Plaintiff “with handcuffs in the presence of his neighbors at approximately 5 p.m. The plaintiff remained in handcuffs or arrest and jail until his bonded release at 2:00 a.m., on or about November 12, 2016, the following morning.” (Id. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff was arrested for “interference with the rights of others . . . .” (Id. ¶ 5.)

         Plaintiff also asserts that Defendants “wrongfully and illegally searched the plaintiff is violation of 42 U.S.C. [§] 1983, under color of state law, his car, and then wrongfully and illegally towed the plaintiff's car . . . . The defendants damaged the plaintiff's car during the search, conducted in violation of 42 U.S.C. [§] 1983, federal and state law . . . .” (Id. ¶ 8.) He also contends that “[t]he defendants wrongfully and illegally transported the plaintiff to the Magistrate for booking.”

         At the time of his booking, “the defendants told the Magistrate, and others, plaintiff had been convicted of a felony.” (Id. ¶ 9.) That statement was false.[3] The defendants are also alleged to have “wrongfully and illegally [taken] a gun from plaintiff's car in an effort to wrongfully and illegally charge the plaintiff with felonious possession of a weapon.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff further alleges that “[t]he defendants made written and verbal statements indicating that plaintiff wrongfully and illegally, without permission, entered his own home in violation of the law. The statements are false and defamatory.” (Id. ¶ 10.)

         Plaintiff maintains that the statements by “defendants” “infer [sic] that the plaintiff commited [sic] crimes of moral turpitude when plaintiff entered property belonging to another when the property in fact belonged to the plaintiff. The statements taken as a whole infer [sic] that the plaintiff commited [sic] acts of falsity, fraud and deceit, as well as commission of a criminal offense, damaging the plaintiff's reputation locally, nationally, and globaly [sic]. The statements caused the plaintiff damage to his reputation in general and special damages in the form of injury to his reputation throughout the world.” (Id. ¶ 11.) At the time the statements were made, Plaintiff contends Defendants knew or should have known that they were false. (Id. ¶ 14.) He also contends that the statements were made with “actual malice and with wrongful and willful intent to defame” him. (Id. ¶ 15.)

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on December 8, 2016, apparently alleging causes of action for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and defamation. He seeks compensatory damages of $750, 000.00, and punitive damages of $500, 000.00. Defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) on January 4, 2017. Plaintiff responded on January 23. I heard arguments on February 23, 2017, and the matter is now ripe for disposition.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When a challenge to subject matter jurisdiction is raised under Rule 12(b)(1), “the burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction is on the plaintiff.” Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R. Co. v. U.S., 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991) (citing Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982)). “In determining whether jurisdiction exists, the district court is to regard the pleadings' allegations as mere evidence on the issue, and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment.” Id. “The court must grant the motion ‘only if the material jurisdictional facts are not in dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law.'” Little v. Stock Bldg. Supply, LLC, No. 4:10-cv-129, 2011 WL 5146179, at *3 (E.D. N.C. Sept. 2, 2011) (quoting Richmond, 945 F.2d at 768). Generally speaking, allegations of Eleventh Amendment immunity, like those raised by Sheriff Lane Perry, are treated as challenges to subject matter jurisdiction. See, e.g., Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 677-78 (1974).

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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. In determining facial plausibility, the court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true. Id. The complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief” and sufficient “[f]actual allegations . . . to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks omitted). Therefore, the Complaint must “allege facts sufficient to state all the elements of [the] claim.” Bass v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003). Although “a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, ” a pleading that merely offers “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff's Complaint is unclear on whether he is suing Sheriff Perry in his official capacity, his individual capacity, or both. By captioning his Complaint against “Lane Perry, Sheriff, ” it seems clear that he seeks recovery only against Sheriff Perry in his official capacity as Sheriff of Henry County. Nevertheless, considering Plaintiff's pro se status, I ...


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