United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
SUNDARI K. PRASAD, Plaintiff,
JODY JAMES-WOODS, et al., Defendants.
Hannah Lauck United States District judge
K. Prasad, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983
action. The matter is before the Court for
evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and
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). 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)), aff'd, 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).
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 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, 1 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 All.
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); lodice 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
sponle, 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).
Complaint, Prasad names as Defendants Jody James-Woods, an
employee of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Supreme Court
of Virginia "The People," and Hamilton Hendrix, an
individual named in the majority of her prior actions.
(Compl. 1-2, ECF No. I.) Prasad filed this action on a form for
filing a Bivens action; however, as Prasad does not
allege that any of the named Defendants acted under color of
federal authority, see Williams v. Burgess, No.
3;O9CVl 15, 2010 WL 1957105, at *2 (E.D. Va. May 13, 2010)
(citation omitted), the Court construes this action as one
brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
is currently detained pending her trial in the Circuit Court
for the City of Hampton, Virginia. Prasad alleges that
Defendants James-Woods and the Supreme Court of Virginia
"The People" have given her the
"run-around," have been rude in their
correspondence with Prasad, and have mishandled her filings.
(Id. at 5-6.) Prasad indicates that Hendrix has
violated her constitutional rights "by lying to keep
[her] incarcerated." (Id. at 6.) Prasad
requests monetary damages and to "waive every ...
[filing] fee." (Id. at 7.)
both unnecessary and inappropriate to engage in an extended
discussion of Prasad's theories for relief. See
Cochran v. Morris, 73 F.3d 1310, 1315 (4th Cir. 1996)
(emphasizing that "abbreviated treatment" is
consistent with Congress's vision for the disposition of
frivolous or "insubstantial claims" (citing
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989))).
Ultimately, Prasad's Complaint will be dismissed for
failing to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) and as legally frivolous.
Supreme Court of Virginia and
Prasad's allegations, it appears that James-Woods is an
employee of the Clerk's Office of the Supreme Court of
Virginia. Judicial immunity applies to quasi-judicial
officers acting pursuant to court directives. See Butler
v. Johnson, No. 1;O7cvl 196 (GBL/TRJ), 2007 WL 4376135,
at *3 (E.D. Va. Dec. 12, 2007) (citing Lockhart v.
Hoenstine, 411 F.2d 455, 460 (3d Cir. 1969)).
"[Q]uasi-judicial" immunity shields court officers
from the "danger that disappointed litigants, blocked by
the doctrine of absolute immunity from suing the judge
directly, will vent their wrath on clerks, court reporters,
and other judicial adjuncts." Kincaid v. Vail,
969 F.2d 594, 601 (7th Cir. 1992) (quoting Scruggs v.
Moellering, 870 F.2d 376, 377 (7th Cir. 1989)); see
McCray v. Maryland, 456 F.2d 1, 5 n.l 1 (4th Cir. 1972)
(holding that clerks have "derivative immunity"
when they act under the direction of the court). Clerks are
entitled to quasi-judicial immunity when they perform
"judicial act[s]... having an integral relationship with
the judicial process." Wymore v. Green, 245
Fed.Appx. 780, 783 (10th Cir. 2007) (alteration in original)
complains that James-Woods mishandled her filings with the
Supreme Court of Virginia and was rude to Prasad. Prasad
fails to allege that Defendant James-Woods's actions fall
outside of her judicially mandated duties. Thus, she is
immune from suit. See, e.g., Wymore, 245 Fed.Appx.
at 783 (finding clerk entitled to quasi-judicial immunity
when refusing to file inmate's court documents);
Hutcherson v. Priest, No. 7:10-CV-00060, 2010 WL
723629, at *3 (W.D. Va. Feb. 26, 2010); Butler, 2007
WL 4376135, at *3. ...