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Chien v. Commonwealth

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

March 5, 2018

ANDREW CHIEN, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, et al, Defendants.

          Hon. Theresa Buchanan

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          LIAM O GRADY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' various Motions to Dismiss (Dkt. Nos. 75, 77, 79, 83, 86, and 92), For the reasons below and for good cause shown, the Motions to Dismiss are GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, pro se, filed the initial complaint in this matter on June 12, 2017. Dkt. No. 1. The background facts of this case as set forth in Plaintiffs 125-page complaint are materially indistinguishable from those alleged in a related case Chien v. Grogan, 2017 WL 3381978 (E.D. Va. Aug. 3, 2017), aff'd, 2018 WL 746523 (4th Cir. Feb. 7, 2018) (unpublished per curiam opinion). The Court's Memorandum Opinion dismissing that case provides a recitation of the underlying facts of this matter. See id.

         On August 28, 2017, the Court granted all pending motions to dismiss the case, having overlooked that it earlier granted an extension of time for Plaintiff to respond to the pending motions. Dkt. Nos. 47 and 48. The Court rescinded the order on September 12, 2017 and also granted Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint in light of the reasons for dismissal identified in the Court's mistaken order. Due to confusion over what constitutes amendment of complaint, the amended complaint in this case was not filed until October 19, 2017. Dkt. 73. The instant motions seek dismissal of that October 19, 2017 amended complaint.

         Despite having had the benefit of this Court's dismissal in the Grogan matter and the mistaken, but explanative, dismissal of the original complaint in this matter, the amended complaint warrants dismissal for many of the same reasons identified in the Court's August 28, 2017 order. Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint on virtually the same grounds. The instant motions are fully briefed and the Court has dispensed with oral arguments.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) permits the defendant to move for dismissal of a claim when the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The court must dismiss the action if it determines at any time that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). Defendants may, as in this case, attack "the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, quite apart from any pleading" because even with sufficient pleading, the district court could not have jurisdiction over the claim. White v. CMA Const. Co. Inc., F.Supp. 231, 233 (E.D. Va. 1996). The plaintiff bears the burden to establish that subject matter jurisdiction exists. See Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999). The Court grants a Rule 12(b)(1) motion if the material jurisdictional facts are known and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law. See Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991).

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain sufficient factual information to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 550 (2007). A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) must be considered in combination with Rule 8(a)(2), which requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief so as to "give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While "detailed factual allegations" are not required, Rule 8 does demand that a plaintiff provide more than mere labels and conclusions stating that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Id. Because a Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of a complaint without resolving factual disputes, a district court "'must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint' and 'draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.'" Kensington Volunteer Fire Dep't v. Montgomery County, 684 F.3d 462, 467 (4th Cir. 2012) (quoting E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011)). Accordingly, a complaint may survive a motion to dismiss "even if it appears 'that a recovery is very remote and unlikely.'" Id. (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Wendy Hughes - Failure to State a Claim

         During the relevant time period, Ms. Hughes was the Clerk of Court for Chesterfield County Circuit Court. Plaintiff alleges five claims against her: 1) violating Va. Code § 18.2-472; 2) perjury; 3) aiding false imprisonment; 4) violation of the Due Process clause, and 5) violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(4). Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against Ms. Hughes on these counts.

         Violation of Va. Code § 18.2-472 has no civil remedy. In order for a private right of action to arise out of the Virginia Code, the civil remedy must appear on the face of the statute. See Sch Bd of City of Norfolk v. Giannoutsos, 238 Va. 144, 147, 380 S.E.2d 647, 649 (1989) ("[When] a statute creates a right and provides a remedy for the vindication of that right, then that remedy is exclusive unless the statute says otherwise"). Va. Code § 18.2-472 criminalizes false entries or destruction of records but does not provide a civil right of action. Accordingly, the claims here, predicated on state criminal statutes that afford no civil remedy, must be dismissed for failing to state a claim.

         As to aiding false imprisonment, the elements of the tort of false imprisonment are plainly not supported by the facts alleged in the amended complaint. False imprisonment is the "direct restraint by one person of the physical liberty of another without adequate legal justification" and consists of restraining a person's freedom of movement by force of fear. Jordan v. Shands,255 Va. 492, 497 (1998) (quoting W.T. Grant Co. v. Owens, 149 Va. 906, 921 (1928)). There are simply no facts sufficiently ...


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