United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
TERRY C. BRADLEY, Plaintiff,
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, et al., ; Defendants.
Glen E. Conrad Senior United States District Judge
C. Bradley, proceeding pro se, commenced this action by
filing a form complaint against the Commonwealth of Virginia,
"Virginia Tech College/ Virginia Tech Police
Department," the Circuit Court of Montgomery County,
Virginia, and the Montgomery County Commonwealth's
Attorney's Office. The plaintiff has not paid the filing
fee but will be granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis for purposes of initial review of her
complaint. For the following reasons, the court concludes
that the case must be dismissed for failure to state a claim,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii).
plaintiffs complaint indicates that she was arrested in
Montgomery County for an unidentified offense in October of
2011. The plaintiff claims that the Commonwealth's
Attorney's Office "fabricated judicial
proceedings" against her and that the Office now
maintains that "a valid plea agreement exists between
the plaintiff and the Commonwealth." Compl. Attach. 1,
Diet. No. 6-1. The plaintiff alleges that the Commonwealth
has "repeatedly depended upon [the plea agreement] as
support for the contention of guilty" and the
"subsequent denial of expungement." Id.
The plaintiff further alleges that the Commonwealth and/or
the Circuit Court "exacerbate[d] the plaintiffs
grievances by knowingly and maliciously sentencing the
plaintiff under arbitrary and capricious means."
plaintiff claims that she was unaware of any of the events
that purportedly occurred in Montgomery County until 2018,
when she applied for a job in North Carolina. "During a
customary background check, it was discovered the plaintiff
had an alleged felony conviction." Id. The
plaintiff claims that she has since uncovered evidence
indicating that "no criminal record exists."
Id. The plaintiff filed a form "Complaint for
Violation of Civil Rights" in the Eastern District of
North Carolina on February 20, 2019. On March 22, 2019, a
judge in that district transferred the case to the Western
District of Virginia after concluding that venue was improper
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), which governs in forma
pauperis proceedings, the court has a mandatory duty to
screen initial filings. Eriline Co. S.A. v. Johnson,
440 F.3d 648, 656-57 (4th Cir. 2006). The court must dismiss
a case "at any time" if the court determines that
the complaint "fails to state a claim on which relief
may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).
standards for reviewing a complaint for dismissal under
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) are the same as those which apply
when a defendant moves for dismissal under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). De'Lonta v. Angelone.
330 F.3d 630, 633 (4th Cir. 2003). Thus, in reviewing a
complaint under this statute, the court must accept all
well-pleaded factual allegations as true and view the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Philips v. Pitt Cty. Mem. Hosp.. 572 F.3d 176, 180
(4th Cir. 2009). To survive dismissal for failure to state a
claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual
allegations "to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level" and "to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twomblv. 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007).
plaintiff seeks to recover monetary damages from the named
defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Compl. 6, Dkt.
No. 6 (requesting monetary damages in the amount of 50
million dollars). Section 1983 provides a cause of action
against any "person" who, under color of state law,
causes the deprivation of another person's rights under
the Constitution or laws of the United States. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. For the following reasons, the court concludes
that the plaintiffs complaint fails to state a plausible
claim under § 1983 against any of the named defendants.
Claims against the Commonwealth
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must name a
defendant who qualifies as a "person" within the
meaning of the statute. The Supreme Court has made clear that
"a state is not a 'person' for purposes of
determining who can be sued under § 1983." Va.
Office for Prot. & Advocacy v. Reinhard. 405 F.3d
185, 189 (4th Cir. 2005) (citing Will v. Mich. Dep't
of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Accordingly,
the Commonwealth of Virginia is not subject to liability
under § 1983 and any claims against it must be
Claims against the Circuit Court and the
Commonwealth's Attorney's Office
same reason, the court must dismiss any claims against the
Circuit Court of Montgomery County and the Office of the
Commonwealth's Attorney. It is well settled that a state
court is not a "person" subject to suit under
§ 1983. See Harris v. Champion, 51 F.3d 901,
906 (10th Cir. 1995) (observing that "this and other
circuit courts have held that a state court is not a
'person' under [§] 1983") (collecting
cases); see also Olivia v. Bover.163 F.3d 599 (4th
Cir. 1998) (unpublished table opinion) (concluding that
"the Defendant court system is not a person" for
purposes of § 1983). The same is true for the
Commonwealth's Attorney's Office. See. e.g..
Newkirk v. Circuit Court. No. 3:14-cv-00372, 2014 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 113032, at * 5 (E.D. Va. Aug. 14, 2014)