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Green v. Doss

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

February 28, 2019

ANTHONY M. GREEN, SR., Plaintiff,
TIMOTHY DOSS, et al, Defendants.



         Anthony M. Green, Sr., a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. The action proceeds on Green's Particularized Complaint ("Complaint," ECF No. 18). Green claims that his constitutional rights were violated because he was not permitted to marry during his incarceration at the Middle Peninsula Regional Security Center ("MPRSC"). (See Id. at 1-2.) Green names Superintendent Timothy Doss ("Superintendent Doss") and Major T. A. Proctor ("Major Proctor") as Defendants (collectively "Defendants"). (Id. at 1.) Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 27.) Green filed a Response. (ECF No. 29.) For the reasons stated below, the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 27) will be granted in part and denied in part.


         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 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.'" BellAtl. 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 BellAtl. 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 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).

         A motion made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) challenges the court's jurisdiction over the subject matter of a complaint. Such challenges can be facial, asserting that the facts as pled fail to establish jurisdiction, or factual, disputing the pleadings themselves and arguing that other facts demonstrate that no jurisdiction exists. Lufti v. United States, 527 Fed.Appx. 236, 241 (4th Cir. 2013) (citing Kerns v. United States, 585 F.3d 187, 192-93 (4th Cir. 2009)). If a defendant raises a factual challenge, "the district court may then go beyond the allegations of the complaint and resolve the jurisdictional facts in dispute by considering evidence outside the pleadings, such as affidavits." United States ex rel. Vuyyuru v. Jadhav, 555 F.3d 337, 348 (4th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). Consideration of evidence outside of the pleadings on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion does not necessarily convert the motion to one for summary judgment. Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999) (citation omitted); McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393, 409 (4th Cir. 2010) (Agee, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part) (discussing that motions under Rule 12(b)(1) are not restricted by Rule 12(d)). Regardless of whether the challenge is facial or factual, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof to preserve jurisdiction. Jadhav, 555 F.3d at 348; Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991).


         When Green submitted his original complaint, he was incarcerated at MPRSC. (ECF No. 1, at 3.) Shortly after submitting his original complaint, Green submitted a Notice of Change of Address to the Court, indicating that he had been transferred to Haynesville Correctional Center. (ECF No. 6.)

         Green contends that "Mr. Doss continuously denied my request to get married, which is a violation of my fundamental and constitutionally protected rights." (Compl. 2.)[1]Green states:

In March 2017, I place[d] a request in to be married at Middle Peninsula Regional Security Center. My request was denied by the Superintendent Timothy Doss, reason being, Mr. Doss doesn't allow marriages to be conducted at his facility.
In April 2017, 1 met with Mr. Doss about me getting married in the facility and he stated he doesn't allow marriages and there is no law that compels him to approve marriages.
In May 2017, I filed a grievance and on June 15, 2017, Major Proctor responded stating that Mr. Doss stated that he would allow marriages but Mr. Doss continued to deny me the right to marry, reason being, that he was waiting for his attorney to change [the] policy.
In August 2017, I spoke with Mr. Doss, for the last time, and he stated he had more important things to do and he will not allow me to get married at his ...

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