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Villafana v. Clarke

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

March 30, 2018

JACQUES PAUL VILLAFANA, Plaintiff,
v.
HAROLD W. CLARKE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Robert E. Payne Senior United States District Judge.

         Jacques Paul Villafana, 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. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss the action for failure to state a claim for relief and as legally frivolous.

         I. STANDARD OF 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); see' 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. 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).

         "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 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).

         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 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, " rather than merely "conceivable." Id. at 570. "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) . Therefore, 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 does not act as the inmate's advocate, sua sponte developing statutory and constitutional claims 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).

         II. SUMMARY OF ALLEGATIONS AND CLAIMS

         By Memorandum Order entered on January 26, 2018, the Court directed Villafana to file a particularized complaint because the allegations in his original complaint failed to provide each defendant with fair notice of the facts and legal basis upon which his or her liability rests. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)); (Mem. Order 1-2, ECF No. 21.) Villafana has filed a Particularized Complaint. (ECF No. 22.) In his Particularized Complaint, Villafana states the following:[2]

1. Jacques Paul Villafana (Mr. Villafana's) medical records were sent to him from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2016, after he filed a disability claim with the Department of Veteran Affairs. Upon receiving the medical records, Lawrenceville Correctional Center's mail room opened and searched Mr. Villafana's medical records without authorization.
2. So, on October 14th, 2016, Mr. Villafana wrote to the Defendant (the Director of the Department of Corrections) informing him that the Virginia Department of Corrections Operating Procedure 803.1(D), violated Mr. Villafana's privacy rights.
3. In his letter, Mr. Villafana also informed the Defendant that Operating Procedure 803.1(D), which governs offender correspondences, classifies correspondences from the Department of Veteran Affairs - which is a federal legislative office - as "special purpose correspondence, " and is not given the privacy of legal mail.
4. Mr. Villafana went on to inform the Defendant that he had the sole authority under Virginia Code § 53.1-53 to prescribe reasonable rules regarding prisoner correspondences, and requested that an amendment to Operating Procedure 8 03.1(D) be made, which would alleviate Mr. Villafana of the harm he suffered and any potential harm in the future.
5. In response to Mr. Villafana's letter, Ms. Sherida Davis-Brown (Correspondence Unit Manager) responded on November 17th, 2016 and informed Mr. Villafana that he had to utilize Operating Procedure 866.1: Offender Grievance Procedure, if the issue was still a concern; and, the issue ...

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