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Prasad v. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

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

October 3, 2017



         Sundari K. Prasad, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action.[1] The matter is before the Court for evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§1915(e)(2) and 1915A.

         I. Preliminary Review

         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). 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)), qff'd, 36 F.3d 1091 (4th Cir. 1994). 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 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 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 Ail. 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 BellAtl. 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 or her complaint. See Brockv. 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).

         II. Prasad's Complaint

         The action proceeds on Prasad's Particularized Complaint ("Complaint, " ECF No. 13). In her Complaint, Prasad alleges:[2]

In and around 1997-2004, 1 was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, incorporated [at Virginia Commonwealth University]. During "pledge" period, I was subjected to very harsh treatment [and] vicious trauma in the form of "hazing" - which [was] physical, mental, and emotional. "Sisters" (other members) would have us complete various tasks that were physical such as exercises, buy them items using our money, some performed sexual favors, some were yelled at, screamed at, suffered loss of sleep, loss of meals, etc.
During "pledge" period, several letters were written to the elder of our pledge group to tell of our hazing - this was blamed on three of us - all three of us were "legacy" - [meaning] our mothers were sorority sisters and we were automatically granted membership by "bloodline." The other sorority sisters considered us "pauper" as if we meant nothing. All during this "process" as they called it, we were denied food, sleep, showers, talking to our families, and other rights, and were harassed, and some beaten and forced to undergo "process" daily to "cross the burning sands." Us three "legacies" were not included - but were still initiated. I refused to participate in the hazing as it was against PanHellenic rules. In 2004, they kicked me out of the sorority - for no reason at all - after I stood up to the hazing [and] still reported it, [and] complained about them violating my [Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA")] rights, etc. In jail - I had flashbacks of this trauma.
The Defendants have defiled the Plaintiffs human [and] civil rights by demeaning her to no less than a slave. "We have to break you down to build you up." Then kicking her out of [the] sorority [because] she complained about the hazing. They are against [her because] she is disabled (Eta Tau joked about her mental illness of depression often).

(Compl. 1-3.)

         Prasad alleges violations of the ADA, "human rights, " and the First, [3] Thirteenth, [4]Fourteenth, [5] and Fifteenth[6] Amendments. (Id. at 2-3.) Prasad seeks injunctive relief as well as monetary damages. (Id. at 3-4.)

         III. Analysis

         It is both unnecessary and inappropriate to engage in an extended discussion of Prasad's theories for relief. See Cochran v. Morris,73 F.3d 1310, 1315 (4th Cir. 1996) (emphasizing that "abbreviated treatment" is consistent with Congress's vision for the disposition of frivolous or "insubstantial claims" (citing Neitzke v. Williams,490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989))). Although Prasad's Complaint has many legal infirmities, it ultimately will be dismissed as ...

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