United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
E. PAYNE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Michael Trotman, Jr., a former Virginia inmate,
submitted this ambiguous civil action. The matter is before
the Court for evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2) and Trotman's compliance with the Court's
November 27 and December 8, 2017 Memorandum Orders.
Specifically, by Memorandum Order entered November 27, 2017,
the Court directed Trotman to submit a particularized
complaint. (ECF No. 5.) The Court noted that Trotman's
submissions failed to provide each named defendant "with
fair notice of the facts and legal basis upon which his or
her liability rests." (Id. at 1-2 (citation
omitted).) The Court also warned Trotman that if he failed to
submit an appropriate particularized complaint that comported
with the joinder requirements as set forth in the Memorandum
Order, the Court would drop all defendants not properly
joined with the first named defendant. (Id. at 3-4.)
Memorandum Order entered on December 8, 2017, the Court
directed Trotman, within fourteen (14) days of the date of
entry thereof, to inform the Court of whether he was
incarcerated when he first submitted his Motion for Leave to
Proceed in Forma Pauperis to the Eastern District of
Virginia in October 2017. (ECF No. 6, at 2.) The Court warned
Trotman that a failure to respond would result in dismissal
of the action without prejudice. (Id.)
December 11, 2017, the Court received Trotman's
Particularized Complaint. (ECF No. 7.) On December 18, 2017,
the United States Postal Service returned the Court's
December 8, 2017 Memorandum Order marked with what appears to
read, "DISCHARGED RETURN TO SENDER." (ECF No. 9, at
1.) On December 21, 2017, the Court received from Trotman a
notice of change of address, and the Clerk mailed a second
copy of the December 8, 2017 Memorandum Order to Trotman.
(ECF No. 10.) More than fourteen (14) days have elapsed since
the Clerk mailed a second copy of the December 8, 2017
Memorandum Order to Trotman and Trotman has not responded.
Trotman failed to comply with the directives of the Court,
and for this reason alone, this action can be dismissed.
because Trotman filed a Particularized Complaint and because
the Court received the information about the dates of
Trotman's confinement from the Office of the Sheriff of
the County of Suffolk, New York (see ECF No, 8), the Court
will turn to a preliminary review of the Particularized
Complaint. As explained below, the Particularized Complaint
is untimely and legally frivolous.
to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") this
Court must dismiss any action 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)). The
second standard is the familiar standard for a motion to
dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
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 plaintiff's 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).
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,
therefore, 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).
SUMMARY OF CLAIMS AND DEFENDANTS
Particularized Complaint names twenty-one individuals as
defendants. Trotman's Particularized Complaint reads more
like a timeline of alleged wrongdoings than a complaint that
raises claims for relief. On the first two pages, Trotman
lists five Virginia state statutes that he
''request[s] this Court grant motion for civil
action." (Part. Compl. 1.) Trotman fails to identify
what cause of action those statutes provide him or how those
statutes were violated. Instead, on the following pages, he
places the corresponding numbers assigned to the five
Virginia statutes next to each set of allegations. Only one
of the Virginia Code sections that he lists is a civil
statute: Virginia Code section 57-1, the "Act for
religious freedom recited."
Court identifies the following claims from his Particularized
Claim One: In May of 2013, Trotman informed Defendant
Albright that the use of synthetic substances such as
thorazine was against his spiritual beliefs. (Part. Compl.
Claim Two: In September of 2013, Defendant Lofton-Beach
administered dementia medicine to Trotman, forced him to take
pills, and "called a [n] emergency squad to inject
[Trotman] with needles." (Id.)
Claim Three: In September of 2013, Defendant Wilkerson
reported that Trotman attempted to attack her when "her