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Conyers v. Virginia Housing Development Authority

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

September 19, 2017

NICOLLE CONYERS, Plaintiff,
v.
VIRGINIA HOUSING DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, and MCGUIREWOODS, LLC, Defendants.

          OPINION

          John A. Gibney, Jr. United States District Judge

         The pro se plaintiff, Nicolle Conyers, filed this action against McGuireWoods, LLC and the Virginia Housing Development Authority ("VHDA") (collectively "the defendants") to vacate a 2013 judgment. Conyers claims that the defendants committed fraud on the court by lying about the VHDA's legal business classification. The defendants have moved to dismiss. The Court grants the defendants' motion because Conyers' alleged facts do not plausibly show that the defendants engaged in the kind of egregious conduct required to constitute fraud on the court.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The VHDA terminated Conyers in December 2010. Conyers then filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in February 2011. The VHDA declared itself a state agency in its EEOC position statement.

         In 2012, the EEOC issued Conyers a "Notice to Sue." Conyers then filed her complaint in this district claiming that the VHDA violated Title VII. Relevant here, Conyers did not bring a due process claim at that time, and the complaint classified the VHDA as a state agency. See Conyers v. Va. Hous. Dev. Autk, 927 F.Supp.2d 285, 292 (E.D. Va. 2013). The VHDA, represented by McGuireWoods, denied being a state agency in its answer to the 2012 complaint.

         In late 2012, the VHDA moved for summary judgment. In support of the motion, the VHDA submitted an allegedly perjured affidavit from its HR Director that classified the VHDA as a non-profit organization. Conyers now claims that the VHDA and the HR Director knew that the VHDA was a state agency, rather than a non-profit, because the VHDA refers to itself as the "Virginia State Housing Authority, a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia." (PL's Compl. at ¶ 12, Dk. No. 1.) Conyers also says that McGuireWoods knew that the VHDA was a state agency because McGuire Woods had represented the VHDA in prior litigations where it stated that the VHDA was a state agency.

         The Court granted the motion for summary judgment. See Conyers, 927 F.Supp.2d at 292. In the opinion granting the motion, the Court stated that the VHDA was a non-profit organization in the background section, but it did not rely on this classification in any part of its analysis. Id.

         Conyers now alleges that the defendants committed fraud on the court when they submitted inconsistent statements in the 2011 EEOC position statement, the 2012 answer to the complaint, and in support of the 2012 motion for summary judgment (collectively the "2012 misrepresentations"). Conyers seeks relief from the Court's 2013 judgment upholding summary judgment under Rule 60(d)(3) and, alternatively, Rule 60(d)(1).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The VHDA and McGuire Woods have moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A Rule 12(b)(6) motion gauges the sufficiency of a complaint without resolving any factual discrepancies or testing the merits of the claims. Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992). In considering the motion, a court must accept all allegations in the complaint as true and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 253 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999)). The principle that a court must accept all allegations as true, however, does not apply to legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must state facts that, when accepted as true, "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. (quoting Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).

         The Court understands that a pro se litigant presents claims differently from a trained attorney. See Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). Accordingly, courts construe pro se complaints liberally. Id. This principle of liberal construction, however, has its limits. Id. Courts do not need to discern the unexpressed intent of the plaintiff or to conjure up issues on the plaintiffs behalf. See Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 413 n.3 (4th Cir. 2006); Beaudett, 775 F.2d at 1276.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60 sets forth the procedure for seeking relief from a judgment or order. Where a party waits more than a year after a court has entered a judgment, a party may only seek relief under Rule 60(d). The Court liberally construes the pro se plaintiffs complaint to assert two claims under Federal Rule Civil Procedure 60(d)(3) and 60(d)(1).

         A. Rule ...


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