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Prasad v. Washington Metro Police Dept.

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

February 28, 2018



          M. Hannah Lauck, United States District Judge

         Sundari K. Prasad, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil action pursuant to Bivens.[1]By Memorandum Order entered on October 30, 2017, the Court directed Prasad to file a particularized complaint. (ECF No. 12.) Thereafter, Prasad filed a Particularized Complaint (ECF No. 15), which 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) 'Tails 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 'Tactual 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)), affd, 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 5 A 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 All. 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, 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 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).

         II. Prasad's Particularized Complaint

         The action proceeds on Prasad's Particularized Complaint (ECF No. 15). Although her original complaint named many defendants, Prasad's Particularized Complaint names the Washington DC Police Dept as the sole defendant. (Id. at 1 .)[2] In order to state a viable claim under Bivens, a plaintiff must allege that a person acting under color of federal authority deprived him or her of a constitutional right or of a right conferred by a law of the United States. See Williams v. Burgess, No. 3:09cv115, 2010 WL 1957105, at *2 (E.D. Va. May 13, 2010) (citing Goldstein v. Moatz, 364 F.3d 205, 210 n.8 (4th Cir. 2004)), aff'd per curiam, No. 10-6798, 2011 WL 3664279, at *1 (4th Cir. Aug. 22, 2011). While Prasad brought this action pursuant to Bivens, the Defendant Washington DC Police Dept, is a state, not a federal actor, thus the Court construes Prasad to bring this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[3] Cf. Pollard v. District of Columbia, 191 F.Supp.3d 58, 67 (D.D.C. June 9, 2016) (citations omitted) (explaining that Washington D.C. police officers "count as state actors for purposes of Section 1983"), qff'd 698 Fed.Appx. 616 (D.C. Cir. 2017).

         In the October 30, 2017 Memorandum Order directing Prasad to file a particularized complaint, the Court explained as follows:

Plaintiffs current Complaint is a rambling narrative that fails to delineate discernable claims against each defendant. Plaintiffs current allegations fail to provide the particular constitutional right that was violated by each defendant's conduct and also fail to provide each defendant with fair notice of the facts and legal basis upon which his or her liability rests. See Bell All. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).
Accordingly, Plaintiff is DIRECTED, within fourteen (14) days of the date of entry hereof, to particularize her complaint in conformance with the following directions and in the order set forth below:
a. At the very top of the particularized pleading, Plaintiff is directed to place the following caption in all capital letters "PARTICULARIZED COMPLAINT FOR CIVIL ACTION NUMBER 3:17CV140."
b. The first paragraph of the particularized pleading must contain a list of defendants. Thereafter, in the body of the particularized complaint, Plaintiff must set forth legibly, in separately numbered paragraphs, a short statement of the facts giving rise to her claims for relief. Thereafter, in separately captioned sections, Plaintiff must clearly identify each civil right violated. Under each section, the Plaintiff must list each defendant purportedly liable under that legal theory and explain why she believes each defendant is liable to her. Such explanation should reference the specific numbered factual paragraphs in the body of the particularized complaint that support that assertion. Plaintiff shall also include a prayer for relief.
c. The particularized pleading will supplant the prior complaints. The particularized pleading must stand or fall of its own accord. Plaintiff may not reference ...

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