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Sheldon v. Price

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

May 13, 2019

KEVIN SHELDON, Plaintiff,
v.
T. ROWE PRICE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Robert E. Payne, Senior United States District Judge.

         Kevin Sheldon, a federal inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil action. The action proceeds on the FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT (''Particularized Complaint," ECF No. 22) that was filed in response to the Court's directive to file a particularized complaint. The matter is before the Court for evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A.

         I. PRELIMINARY 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," 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 Atl. 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 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. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         By Memorandum Order entered on March 4, 2019, the Court directed Sheldon to file a particularized complaint. The Court noted that:

Courts must liberally construe pro se civil rights complaints in order to address constitutional deprivations. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). Nevertheless, "[p]rinciples requiring generous construction of pro se complaints are not . . . without limits." Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985) . "[T]he Court cannot initiate criminal or regulatory investigations of any defendant. Rather, authority to initiate criminal complaints rests exclusively with state and federal prosecutors." Barron v. Katz, No. 6:17-CV-195-KKC, 2017 WL 3431397, at *1 (E.D. Ky. Aug. 9, 2017) (citing Sahagian v. Dickey, 646 F.Supp. 1502, 1506 (W.D. Wis. 1986)). Furthermore, Plaintiff as "a private citizen lacks a judicially cognizable interest in the [criminal] prosecution or nonprosecution of another." Linda R.S. v. Richard P., 410 U.S. 614, 619 (1973); see Lopez v. Robinson, 914 F.2d 486, 494 (4th Cir. 1990) ("No citizen has an enforceable right to institute a criminal prosecution."). Thus, Plaintiff's current allegations fails to provide the 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)). Plaintiff provides no federal or constitutional law that authorizes the action he seeks.

(ECF No. 16, at 1-2.) Accordingly, the Court directed to Sheldon to follow a particularized complaint that complied with the following directives:

a. At the very top of the particularized pleading, Plaintiff is directed to place the following caption in all capital letters "PARTICULARIZED COMPLAINT FOR CIVIL ACTION NUMBER 3:18CV550."
b. The first paragraph of the particularized pleading must identify the statute, rule or case that authorizes this action. The second paragraph must contain a list of defendants. Thereafter, in the body of the particularized complaint, Plaintiff must set forth legibly, in separately numbered paragraphs, a short statement of the facts giving rise to his claims for relief. Thereafter, in separately captioned sections, Plaintiff must clearly identify each civil right violated. Under each section, the Plaintiff must list each defendant purportedly liable under that legal theory and explain why he believes each defendant is liable to him. Such explanation should reference the specific numbered factual paragraphs in the body of the particularized complaint that support that assertion. Plaintiff shall also include a prayer for relief.
c. The particularized pleading will supplant the prior complaints. The particularized pleading must stand or fall of its own accord. Plaintiff may not reference statements in the prior complaints.
FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE FOREGOING DIRECTIONS WILL RESULT IN DISMISSAL OF THE ACTION. See ...

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