United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
PRIEST MOMOLU V.S. SIRLEAF, JR., Plaintiff,
BARBARA MICKELJOHN, et al., Defendants.
E. PAYNE, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Momolu V.S. Sirleaf, Jr., a Virginia inmate proceeding
pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this 42
U.S.C. § 1983 action. The action proceeds on the
PARTICULARIZED COMPLAINT. (ECF No. 23.) The matter is before
the Court for evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Â§Â§ 1915(e)(2)
and 1915A. As discussed below, the action will be dismissed
as frivolous, malicious, and for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted.
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).
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).
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).
the outset of this action, Sirleaf has obstinately refused to
follow the directives of the Court. The initial Complaint filed
by Sirleaf was forty-six rambling pages, purportedly brought
on behalf of himself, his son, and his wife, stemming from
his son's conviction and incarceration in the State of
Maryland. In the October 24, 2018 Memorandum Order filing the
action for screening, the Court explained the following to
1. As a preliminary matter, the action proceeds with
Plaintiff as the sole Plaintiff in this action. He may not
bring an action as a "next friend" for his common
law wife or son. "[A] next friend does not himself
become a party to the [civil] action in which he
participates, but simply pursues the cause on behalf of the
detained person, who remains the real party in
interest." Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 294 F.3d 598, 603
(4th Cir. 2002) (some internal quotation marks omitted)
(quoting Whitmore v. Arkansas, 95 U.S. 149');">495 U.S. 149, 163
To establish "next friend" standing, (1) the
"next friend must provide an adequate explanation-such
as inaccessibility, mental incompetence, or other
disability-why the real party in interest cannot appear on
his own behalf to prosecute the action," and (2) the
"next friend" must also establish that he is
"truly dedicated to the best interests of the person on
whose behalf he seeks to litigate" and has "a
significant relationship with the real party in
interest." Id. at 603 (some internal quotation
marks omitted) (quoting Whitmore, 495 U.S. at
163-64). "The burden is on the next friend clearly to
establish the propriety of his status and thereby justify the
jurisdiction of the court." Id. at 603 (some
internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Whitmore,
495 U.S. at 163-64).
Plaintiff's current submission fails to demonstrate that
he qualifies as a "next friend" for his son or
wife. Plaintiff fails to explain why his wife or son could
not bring an action on their own behalf. See Aguilar v.
Bragg, 463 Fed.Appx. 333, 334 (5th Cir. 2012);
Francis v. Warden, FCC Coleman-USP, 246 Fed.Appx.
621, 623 (11th Cir. 2007); Tate v. United States, 72
Fed.Appx. 265, 267 (6th Cir. 2003) . Parties may plead and
conduct their own cases personally or by counsel in all
courts of the United States. See 28 U.S.C. §
1654. Moreover, to the extent Plaintiff believes he can
represent his wife or son in this action, individuals who are
not licensed attorneys may not represent third parties
because such representation constitutes the unauthorized
practice of law. Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia, Pt. 6,
§ I; see DePonceau v. Pataki, 315 F.Supp.2d
338, 341-42 (W.D.N.Y. 2004); Kone v. Wilson, 630
S.E.2d 744, 745-46 (Va. 2006). Accordingly, Plaintiff is
reminded that he is the sole Plaintiff in this action and any
claim that Plaintiff purportedly brings on behalf of his wife
or son will not be considered.
(ECF No. 10, at 1-2 (alterations in original).) Subsequently,
Sirleaf filed several documents entitled, "§
Allegation -- Claim Arising under treaty [28 USCA 1331; Fed R
Civ P 8(a)(1)]" that the Court took no action on. (ECF
No. 11, 12.) After review of the initial Complaint, by
Memorandum Order entered on March 4, 2019, the Court directed
Sirleaf to file a particularized complaint within fourteen
days of the date of entry thereof. The Court explained the
following to Sirleaf:
Upon the Court's initial review of the Complaint, it
appears that Plaintiff does not explain how the various
defendants have personally been involved in the deprivation
of his rights. Rather, the majority of the claims
allege violations of his son's rights or simply state
that "plaintiffs'" rights were violated. As the
Court already explained, any claim brought on behalf of his
wife or son will not be considered.
The Complaint in this action also fails to comply with
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). That rule provides:
(a) Claim for Relief. A pleading that states
a claim for relief must contain:
(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the
court's jurisdiction, unless the court already has
jurisdiction and the claim needs no new jurisdictional
(2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief; and
(3) a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief
in the alternative or different types of relief.
Civ. P. 8(a). Plaintiff's rambling submission is neither
short nor plain. Rather, it is comprised of a variety of
separate documents with rambling allegations that do not
appear to provide the basis for the Court's jurisdiction
or succinctly present his claims.
in order to state a viable claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
[1 a plaintiff must allege that a person acting under color
of state law deprived him of a constitutional right
or of a right conferred by a law of the United States.
See Dowe v. Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke
Valley, 145 F.3d 653, 658 (4th Cir. 1998) (citing 42
U.S.C. § 1983). 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). Plaintiff's current allegations fail 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)).
Moreover, Plaintiff is placed on notice that civil tort
actions are "not appropriate vehicles for challenging
the validity of outstanding criminal judgments."
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486 (1994).
Accordingly, Plaintiff is DIRECTED, within fourteen (14) days
of the date of entry hereof, to particularize his Complaint
in conformance with the following directions and in the order
set forth below:
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
b. The first paragraph of the particularized pleading 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
FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE FOREGOING DIRECTIONS
WILL RESULT IN DISMISSAL OF THE ACTION. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). Moreover, if Plaintiff files a
particularized complaint that alleges that
"plaintiffs'" rights were violated, or if he
again attempts to bring the action on behalf of his son or
his common law wife, the Court will dismiss ...