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Nexus Services, Inc. v. Vance

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

January 24, 2018

NEXUS SERVICES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
K3MBERLY SUE VANCE in her official and individual capacity, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Hon. Michael F. Urbanski Chief United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the court on defendant's Motions to Dismiss, ECF Nos. 6, 8, in which defendant Kimberly Sue Vance ("Vance") moves to dismiss Counts One and Three of plaintiff Nexus Services, Inc.'s ("Nexus") Complaint (the "Complaint" or "Compl."), ECF No. 1. For the reasons discussed below, the court will GRANT Vance's Motions to Dismiss.

         I.

         The Complaint and attached statements contain the following allegations.[1]Vance, an off-duty police officer with the City of Waynesboro Police Department, Compl. ¶ 2, drove her personal vehicle onto Nexus' campus in Verona, Virginia, id ¶ 8. Vance was wearing her police polo shirt, a gun belt, and a badge around her neck. Interim Healthcare Witness Statement ("Interim Statement"), Compl. Ex. 2, at 1.

         A Nexus security guard stopped Vance and asked her what she was doing, to which Vance responded that she was going to visit Interim HealthCare ("Interim") to seek home healthcare services. Id. ¶ 9; Security Guard Witness Statement ("Sec. Guard Statement"), Id. Ex. 1, at 1. The security guard noticed that Vance was wearing a police polo, but could not identify the department name on the polo. Sec. Guard Statement 1. Based on Vance's statement, the security guard let her enter the premise and pointed her in the direction of Interim. Id.; Compl. ¶ 10.

         Once Vance entered Interim's office, she was approached by an Interim employee. Compl. ¶ 11. Vance informed the employee that she had lied to the guard to gain entrance to Nexus' campus to "look around." Id. ¶¶ 11, 19-20; Interim Statement 1. Nevertheless, Vance talked with the employee about Vance's mother and some medical conditions facing her mother. Interim Statement 1. She then asked the employee how long the Nexus guard shack had been there. Id. After she left Interim, Vance drove her vehicle to the rear portion of the Nexus property "in an apparent effort to 'look around' the entire campus." Compl. ¶ 21. Vance was on Nexus' campus for no more than three minutes. Sec. Guard Statement 1 (noting that Vance entered the campus "at approximately 13:10" and "exit[ed] the campus at approximately!] 13:12").

         Vance entered the campus on behalf of an unnamed third party, a former Nexus employee with whom Vance associates. Id. ¶¶ 14, 24. The Complaint does not plead that the third party had any connection to the City of Waynesboro police department. Instead, the Complaint pleads that "Vance was not authorized by any superior officer to conduct a search of [Nexus5] corporate campus on the date in question." Id. ¶ 28.

         Based on these allegations, the Complaint asserts three counts against Vance: (1) Count One, a Section 1983 claim based on a violation of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unlawful searches; (2) Count Two, a state-law trespass claim; and (3) Count Three, a state-law defamation claim.[2]

         II. Legal Standard

         Vance moves to dismiss Counts One and Three under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Rule 12(b)(6) permits a dismissal when a plaintiff fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient "facts to state a claim to'' relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The complaint's "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 555.

         A court must construe factual allegations in the nonmoving party's favor and will treat them as true, but is "not so bound with respect to [a complaint's] legal conclusions." Dist. 28. United Mine Workers of Am.. Inc. v. Wellmore Coal Corp., 609 F.2d 1083, 1085 (4th Cir. 1979). Indeed, a court will accept neither "legal conclusions drawn from the facts" nor "unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments." E. Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd. P'ship.'213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). Further, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).'Only after a claim is stated adequately may it then "be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Twombly. 550 U.S. at 563.

         III. Section 1983

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and must show that the deprivation of that right was committed by a person acting under color of state law.[3] Crosby v. City of Gastonia, 635 F.3d 634, 639 (4th Cir. 2011) (citing West v. Atkins. 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988)).

         A. ...


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